Belgian Anti-Piracy Group Facing Copyright Fraud, Embezzlement & Money Laundering Charges

from the funny-how-that-works dept

The Belgian anti-piracy group, SABAM, has been one of the most aggressive anti-piracy groups out there. The group recently lost two huge court cases in which it tried to get courts to force ISPs and hosting firms to put in place filters to stop infringement. Perhaps more controversially, the organization has tried to require social networks to pay a flat fee for all the infringement happening on their networks. A year ago, there was a story of SABAM taking cash for a band they didn't represent after a TV show played a "joke" on the group.

However, in what appears not to be a joke, it looks like SABAM and some of its execs are facing some pretty serious charges, including "falsifying accounts to cover up bribe payments, abuse of trust, copyright fraud and embezzlement," according to TorrentFreak. Apparently, according to the charges, SABAM wasn't very good at actually distributing the money it was supposed to distribute to artists. Things to keep in mind every time one of these groups insists it's looking out for the interests of artists...


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    Skeptical Cynic (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:07am

    Look. Learn. Listen.

    To artist's,

    They represent their stock holders and not you. You are just a paycheck for them. They only care about extracting the most profit from you as fast as they can because they believe your band will only be famous for a minute.

    So if you plan on a career as a musician then you need to find the long term solution.

     

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      Atkray (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 9:22am

      Re: Look. Learn. Listen.

      Not so much a paycheck as cattle to be milked as long as there is milk then slaughtered for whatever the current market price is.

       

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      Sneeje (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 10:29am

      Re: Look. Learn. Listen.

      Completely agree with the sentiments, but I bet organizations like these don't have shareholders. Would be interesting to confirm--I looked at the site and it lists itself as a "private collective management society".

      So, I guess it is actually worse--they represent the interests of the leaders of the organization and no one else.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:34am

    Woo Schadenfreude!

     

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    :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:36am

    ...erm...

    "Abuse of trust"?

    Who trusted them??

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:37am

    How ironic

    These Anit-Piracy, Copyright lobbyists, Collection Agencies, and other such organizations and companies always end up facing some kind of charge or investigation of real criminal activity. Says something about them, doesn't it.

     

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      Torg (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:41am

      Re: How ironic

      And how do you expect them to be able to combat piracy if they're handicapped by laws?

       

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        Lord Binky, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 11:16am

        Re: Re: How ironic

        With their fangs while we sleep.

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 12:06pm

        Re: Re: How ironic

        And how do you expect them to be able to combat piracy if they're handicapped by laws?

        They're in a catch 22 then - because without laws there would be no piracy!

         

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          That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 3:02pm

          Re: Re: Re: How ironic

          If they considered consumers and made things available at reasonable prices would have about the same effect.

          Because people would have no reason to get dressed up, poke out an eye to justify the eye patch, cut off their leg for a peg... but then we'd need laws to protect the parrot industry I guess....

           

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    Lord binky, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:42am

    Missing the point...

    If it wasn't for all the damn piracy, there would be so much money going to artists that these little hiccups would be completely unnoticed like diverted fractions of pennies.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:42am

    But if we don't collect 6 figure salaries while collecting money met for artists the artists will starve and die!

     

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    Steve R. (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:43am

    The Moral Highground?

    They get laws passed to "protect" them from the evil pirates, yet they seem to have no moral restraint when it comes to embezzlement. Why should these "criminals" have protective laws that grant protection to their revenue stream?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:45am

    "Apparently, according to the charges, SABAM wasn't very good at actually distributing the money it was supposed to distribute to artists."

    This is considered a normal business practice in the U.S. and mostly goes unpunished.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 8:07am

      Re:

      This is considered a normal business practice in the U.S. and mostly goes unpunished.
      I think it's called "maximizing shareholder revenue".

       

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    Kaden (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:45am

    You'd think these guys would try to come up with an original scam, instead of doing a mashup of other PRO's clearly copyrighted techniques.

    No one will want to do a $100 million dollar scam anymore if filthy pirates are just going to rip off their methods for their own gain.

    Sheesh.

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:48am

      Re: !

      Hey yeah!

      These jerks should've come up with their own original scams rather than pirating the same old scams which have been done over and over again in lots of places...

      Psh! Posers.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:49am

    not the first to get this type of action against them and hopefully wont be the last. now how are people supposed to be law abiding citizens, when this is the sort of example that the copyright/entertainment industries are setting?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 7:53am

    I've got a new business plan.
    Trolls to chase the trolls who were looking after the artist's interest.

    Will keep lawyers working for years, think of all the new jobs it would create.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 8:34am

      Re:

      I have a better idea:
      1) dig a hole in the ground, bury estimated amount of money
      2) shoot all the lawyers/anti-piracy 'agents'
      3) PROFIT!

      Works even better, as you create jobs in the weapons and burials industries

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 9:08am

    I hope we can see some lengthy prison sentence for these crooks.

     

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      The eejit (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 9:15am

      Re:

      Nah, they'll just tell the judges how to sentence them.

       

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        Nathan F (profile), Feb 21st, 2012 @ 9:49am

        Re: Re:

        Worse. They will just tell the judge how "Deeply ashamed they are." How they express "The utmost remorse for their actions." and that "They will take this opportunity to reflect on their actions and learn from their mistake."

        Then, unless one of them has a previous record of misconduct the judge will give them a slap on the wrist sentence and tell them not to do it again. Which will of course be ignored, only this time they will be more secretive about it.

         

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    Loki, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 9:47am

    it looks like SABAM and some of its execs are facing some pretty serious charges, including "falsifying accounts to cover up bribe payments, abuse of trust, copyright fraud and embezzlement,

    In other words, they were so blatant in their actions that they may end up being legally liable for what some of us have been saying they were guilty of for years.

    Now if we could just get some of them actually thrown in jail.

     

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    Headbhang, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 9:52am

    Ahhh...

    TechDirt never fails to deliver my irony fix...

     

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    So..., Feb 21st, 2012 @ 10:02am

    So... Where's that Anonymous Coward we all know?

    Curious to read how he spins this one.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 10:16am

      Re:

      Oh, you know they avoid articles like this one. Ditto the Kenny Rogers' one.

      In the ones where the labels are clearly the bad guys and most definitely in the wrong, they never put in appearance. Every other article though, you can bet they'll be in. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds, but when caught red handed, they'll shut up. But only then.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 4:51pm

      Re:

      He'll simply write up a post saying how TechDirt is all about ignoring the good that these organisations do.

      To be honest, it's really difficult to ignore the good in this case. How do you ignore something that wasn't there to begin with?

       

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    vastrightwing, Feb 21st, 2012 @ 1:49pm

    I can hear the defense now

    Your honor, I know this was bad. We are so ashamed of our actions and we ended up hurting the very clients we were supposed to protect. I canít tell how regetful we are as an industry. In fact, we have a plan that will ensure we canít do this again and we will pay our clients the money they deserve. Unfortunately we canít publically disclose this arrangement so weíll have to seal this forever or 100 years. The story ends by the industry yelling to all those far and wide that they are being punished by paying a huge one time (undisclosed) fine and all the artists will be made whole. No one will know what the payment was and no one will know who got what because this is all confidential of course. You never hear much from the defendants until they do it again many years later.

     

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