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SOCA backtracks on jail threat for file sharers

16 Feb 2012
Web blocking. Content owners want to stop copyright infringement

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has withdrawn a notice threatening downloaders of copyrighted music files with up to 10 years in jail and an unlimited fine.

The threat was originally placed on the music site, which SOCA had taken down for illegally hosting copyright material.

It has now changed the holding page image that appears when users try to access the site, removing the threat of jail or a fine to those that had used the service.

Below: Previous SOCA holding image on website

Website takedown by SOCA

SOCA said the action was part of a wider effort to raise awareness of the work it is doing to combat websites offering copyrighted content.

"The targeted SOCA activity was part of an operational programme aimed at protecting UK's businesses and the wider economy," it said.

It also revealed that as a result of the action several similar sites had taken proactive steps to avoid a similar fate.

"Responses to the takedown have included action by three more music sites. One has taken itself offline voluntarily, one claims to be considering taking itself offline, and another has posted a claim on its home page to now only be dealing in legal music files following the activity," it said.

"A number of site users have deleted their download histories."

V3 asked SOCA for details on these sites but the organisation said it was not providing this information.

The takedown prompted an outcry from online rights groups, with the Open Right's Group revealing it had requested a meeting with SOCA to discuss the implications of its actions.

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Dan Worth

Dan Worth is the news editor for V3 having first joined the site as a reporter in November 2009. He specialises in a raft of areas including fixed and mobile telecoms, data protection, social media and government IT. Before joining V3 Dan covered communications technology, data handling and resilience in the emergency services sector on the BAPCO Journal

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