Early last Thursday morning the UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) were again mobilizing against online piracy.
Following a joint investigation with licensing outfit PRS for Music, officers from PIPCU and Merseyside police raided an address in Everton, Liverpool. Their target was a 38-year-old man believed to be involved in the unlawful distribution of music online.
In addition to uploading the UK’s Top 40 Singles to various torrent sites each week, police said the man also ran his own website offering ‘acapella’ audio tracks. Police further added that the man generated “significant” advertising revenue from his endeavors while possibly costing the industry “millions” in lost revenue.
A tip received by TF indicated that the man was connected to several accounts on the world’s major torrent sites, including The Pirate Bay and KickassTorrents. We can now reveal that the accounts were registered in the name of ‘OldSkoolScouse’. For those outside the UK, the term ‘scouse’ refers to the accent found primarily in and around the Liverpool area.
As shown in the KickassTorrents screenshot above, the profile links to a domain – www.oldskoolscouse.co.uk. Up until last Friday (the day after the raid) the domain linked to another site, www.deejayportal.com, which was billed as the “Number #1 community and resource, for DJs & Producers.”
As can be seen from the image below, DeeJayPortal featured acapella tracks as described by the police.
It remains unclear how many users each domain had, but in the bigger picture the numbers are very small indeed. At its height DeeJayPortal appears to have barely scraped the world’s top 200,000 most popular sites while OldSkoolScouse is currently outside the top three million.
Both domains went down last Friday, as did the OldSkoolScouse Twitter account and Facebook page. As illustrated below, the former regularly announced torrent uploads of the UK Top 40 to DeeJayPortal.
Yet again it appears that the arrest last week was a case of rightsholders and police targeting low-hanging fruit. Using widely available research tools we were able to quickly uncover important names plus associated addresses, both email and physical. It seems likely that he made close to no effort to conceal his identity.
Due to being in the police spotlight it will come as little surprise that there was no weekly upload of the UK’s Top 40 most-popular tracks from OldSkoolScouse last Friday, something which probably disappointed the releaser’s fans. However, any upset would have been very temporary indeed.
As shown below, at least four other releases of exactly the same content were widely available on public torrent sites within hours of the UK chart results being announced last Friday, meaning the impact on availability was almost non-existent.
However, perhaps of more interest to the police and rightsholders is the impact the arrest will have on the public’s perception of how risky it is to engage in online piracy in the UK. Certainly, more people are being arrested in the UK file-sharing scene than in the United States currently, quite a surprise considering the aggressive anti-piracy stance usually taken in the U.S.
Finally, it will be really interesting to see if the arrest last week will conclude with a case going to court. PIPCU have made many arrest announcements connected to online piracy in the past two years, yet to our knowledge not one person has gone to trial.