UK Seize Popular Music Blog, Arrest Operators and Threaten Readers
As part of a criminal investigation the UK Government has shut down the popular blog RnBXclusive which posted news, commentary and links to music. Authorities have arrested the owners of the site for allegedly defrauding the music industry. In addition, the Serious Organised Crime Agency is threatening users of RnBXclusive that they face 10 years in prison if they downloaded music through the site.
Founded in 2008, RnBXclusive.com quickly became one of the most popular R&B / hip hop blogs. With over a quarter million fans on Facebook it was the go-to destination for many music fans.
But that all changed today when the UK Governmentâ€™s Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) took over the domain and arrested its operators.
â€śSOCA has taken control of this domain name. The individuals behind this website have been arrested for fraud,â€ť reads a message on the siteâ€™s home page.
In addition to arresting the siteâ€™s operators for allegedly defrauding the music industry by posting links to copyrighted music, SOCA also warns those who used the site to download tracks.
In a rather threatening tone SOCA explains that RnBXclusive readers face up to 10 years in prison.
â€śThe majority of music files that were available via this site were stolen from the artists. If you have downloaded music using this website you may have committed a criminal offence which carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years imprisonment and an unlimited fine under UK law.â€ť
Ominous Warning Banner
To guarantee maximum impact the warning also displays the IP-address of those who visit the site. SOCA explains that they may use this information for further investigation.
â€śSOCA has the capability to monitor and investigate you, and can inform your internet service provider of these infringements. You may be liable for prosecution and the fact that you have received this message does not preclude you from prosecution.â€ť
The above is reminiscent of a message that was displayed when the UK authorities shut down the popular BitTorrent tracker OiNK. At the time, the siteâ€™s visitors also received a warning. The OiNK case, however, turned out to be a waste of tax payer money and the siteâ€™s owner eventually walked free.
Finally, SOCAâ€™s warning on RnBXclusive concludes with a rather tendentious claim which appears to come directly from a music industry lobby group.
â€śAs a result of illegal downloads young, emerging artists may have had their careers damaged. If you have illegally downloaded music you will have damaged the future of the music industry.â€ť
The above is worrying, because it wouldnâ€™t be the first time that UK authorities are dragged into a criminal investigation solely based on evidence provided by the entertainment industries. In fact, this was the main reason why the operators of another BitTorrent tracker â€“ FileSoup â€“ had their case dismissed.
In the US similar mistakes were made with the seizure of the music blog Dajaz1. More than a year after Homeland Securityâ€™s Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) seized the siteâ€™s domain, they finally gave it back. It turned out that the seizure was a mistake.
Mel of Dajaz1 also sees similarities between todayâ€™s actions and the seizure of their site in 2010.
â€śUnbelievable, apparently the UK Govt doesnâ€™t believe in Due Process either and their claims of damaging the industry and artists is unsupported propaganda,â€ť she told TorrentFreak. â€śWeâ€™re completely against the process of seizing first and asking questions later.â€ť
Thus far UK authorities havenâ€™t officially responded to the RnBXclusive shutdown and arrests. We will add an update as more news becomes available.