Why Are UK Police Allowing Entertainment Industry Employees To Arrest And Interrogate People With Their Help?

from the incredible dept

We’ve discussed in the past the oddity of how a UK anti-piracy group, FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft), which is a private organization set up and controlled by large entertainment industry players, being deeply involved in criminal investigations and cases against individuals. In the case against Surfthechannel, FACT was directly involved in seizing and keeping the computers involved and then in paying the police for the prosecution. Even if you can reasonably argue that they should be involved in helping with providing information for the investigation, you’d think most people would agree that that’s where the industry’s involvement should end. They shouldn’t be present on raids. They shouldn’t get to touch or keep the evidence. And they certainly shouldn’t be financing and pressing the criminal case.

But, apparently, the industry’s control over law enforcement in the UK continues. TorrentFreak reports on how FACT teamed up with local police to send five police cars to house to arrest a guy and seize his electronic equipment with FACT employees, because FACT claimed the guy had filmed a movie and uploaded it. Apparently, the person they were actually looking for no longer lived at the address, but it didn’t stop police from taking the guy to the police station where he was interrogated mainly by FACT employees with the police just sitting back and taking notes.

“At the police station I was interviewed by the police together with FACT (Federation Against Copyright and Theft). During questioning they asked me about Fast and Furious 6, where I obtained a copy from and if I was the one who went and recorded it at the cinema.”

Despite police involvement, as in previous cases it appears they were only present in order to gain access to the victim’s property, sit on the sidelines taking notes, and for their powers when it comes to presenting crimes for prosecution.

“I was detained for 3 hrs 12 minutes, out of that I was questioned for approximately 40 minutes. One police officer and two FACT officers conducted the interview. The police officer sat back and let FACT do all the questioning, so FACT were running the show,” the man reports.

As for what charges were used to arrest the guy? The vaguely ridiculous: “Miscellaneous Offense.” When the guy questioned the police, they said they “could not find the relevant charge.” Wow.

In the meantime, the guy has been released on bail and told that he’s not allowed to enter any movie theater in England or Wales “while the investigation is being carried out.”

No matter which side of the debate you’re on, I’d hope you can recognize how utterly insane it is to allow private parties to effectively run a criminal investigation like this.

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Comments on “Why Are UK Police Allowing Entertainment Industry Employees To Arrest And Interrogate People With Their Help?”

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56 Comments
Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:

The UK has been a police state for well over a decade. This news isn’t as shocking as much as it is expected.

You should see what they do to people who illegally import blank disks. Their bodies are never found.

It wouldn’t be surprising if these FACT “officers” carry black badges with red cross-like emblems on them. Would be most fitting.

/joke

Ninja (profile) says:

Why Are UK Police Allowing Entertainment Industry Employees To Arrest And Interrogate People With Their Help?

Because the corporations own the Government. Simple as that. And this won’t change without some heavy protesting. Revolution if you will. And I’m afraid there will be blood. See how the Occupy movements were dealt with. Brushed aside as some hygiene problem, thrown out because they were disturbing some church somewhere…

We’ve gone past the opportunity to turn this back without bloodshed for a while now.

out_of_the_blue says:

Nor should private parties be running the Federal Reserve.

Yeah, we’re DEEP in fascism, Mike, but I’m more worried about the Federal Reserve. I’m under the impression you went to an Ivy League college and so should be capable of dealing with larger scale matters, but I don’t see any evidence of it. This is too small a step up from the broccoli just past.

Stig Rudeholm (profile) says:

Well, that sounds alright!

“””At the police station I was interviewed by the police together with FACT (Federation Against Copyright and Theft). During questioning they asked me about Fast and Furious 6, where I obtained a copy from and if I was the one who went and recorded it at the cinema.”””

Federation Against Copyright and Theft? That sounds like something I could get behind, as copyright is being heavily abused to steal from the public.

Loki says:

No matter which side of the debate you’re on, I’d hope you can recognize how utterly insane it is to allow private parties to effectively run a criminal investigation like this.

Except the copyright True Believers don’t think it is the least bit insane. They won’t come right out and say so, of course, because doing so will show the true depth of their Zealotry. Instead they will attempt to obfuscate the matter, or even more likely try to change the subject altogether.

bob (profile) says:

Isn't this what you wanted?

In the relentless push around here to undermine any ownership of intellectual property that gets in the way of Big Search making a buck, we’re constantly told that it’s wrong for the people to pay for protecting the content creators’ rights. Nevermind that the people tax themselves to pay for the police to protect all of us. That’s what we always hear from the looniest people here. They might as well argue that the murder victims alone should pay for their own investigations.

So the content owners are just doing what you wanted. They’re providing the manpower to solve the cases. They’re helping the cops just like a burglary victim helps the cops. You’re the one that wants the content producers to police their own content. Well now they’re doing it. Why don’t you just sit back and enjoy getting your way?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Isn't this what you wanted?

They’re helping the cops just like a burglary victim helps the cops.

Really? When do burglary victims get to interrogate the accused perpetrator or handle the evidence?

Also, when we talk of the rights holder’s having to pay for enforcement of their rights we are usually talking about civil proceedings. And that is how it should be. The cops won’t spend resources to investigate your neighbor just because you wish to sue him for putting his fence on your property. That investigation comes out of your pocket.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Isn't this what you wanted?

Don’t touch your keyboard. EVER.

In the UK, we have something called a private prosecution. That’s what FACT do, with the assistance of the police. What is wrong and unethical is the collection of evidence. FACT should have zero interaction with that part of the investigations.

Dave says:

Re: Re: Re:

Nah – we drive on the CORRECT side of the road. Everyone else is wrong! Nobody else does it properly. After all, most people are right-handed and that’s where you keep your sword to do a bit of swash-buckling, fending off ne-er do wells, highwaymen and ruffians, which you can’t do if you drive your carriage on the right.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

After all, most people are right-handed and that’s where you keep your sword to do a bit of swash-buckling …

I believe it’s rather difficult for a “right-hander” to draw a sword when it’s hung on the “right” side.

On the (sigh) other hand, as the left side of the brain controls the right-hand side of the body, left-handers are the only ones who’re really in their right mind.

Duke (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Thanks to rather excessive and one-sided lobbying over the last few decades the police in England have very broad powers, and even when they go beyond them no one usually cares (or in one high-profile case in 2011, the government subverted the courts and passed a new law in a week, to make what they were doing legal).

That the police didn’t know what law they were supposedly using doesn’t surprise me – it is fairly common (police aren’t taught the law); the TorrentFreak article refers to s17 Copyright Designs and Patents Act, which is relevant, but I think they really want s107. The last time there were prosecutions under the CDPA for this, the prosecutors got the wrong crime anyway…

What worries me about this is the apparent lack of a defence lawyer in the interviews. From what I’ve seen of previous cases such as this (with the film and music industries) where a good lawyer has been involved from early enough on, the case has collapsed (in one case, when the prosecutors were forced to admit they had no idea what was going on as the music industry enforcers were running everything).

There was a case a few years ago (over SurfTheChannel) where Federation Against Copyright Theft Ltd and a local police force were taken to court over their actions in an arrest (including the police’s decision to hand over all their evidence to Fact Ltd after they’d decided not to prosecute), but the court of appeal sided with Fact Ltd. The guy in question is currently (iirc) in prison pending appeal of his conviction.

Private prosecutions are rare but do happen from time to time; they’re something of a historical oddity, but not all that unreasonable – it wasn’t the Fact Ltd paying the police, but Fact Ltd paying for their own private prosecution (providing lawyers etc.).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Plenty if I raise money from lots of small donors.

And while we’re at it, I also really hate those [insert hated & persecuted minority group here], so lets pay UK police to prosecute them for [insert illegal thing this minority group is typically associated with]. Who cares if we don’t have evidence, we can just make it up, since we’ll get to store the evidence in our homes and offices!

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Bonus: the evidence here may well just be an IP address, which is inaccurate for identification, could be spoofed, could be assigned to a router that had been hacked, etc. So, even the original guy may not be the person responsible.

Meanwhile, the film in question (Fast & Furious 6) has taken $314 million worldwide so far (as of last weekend), and the guy who uploaded the movie is likely to have taken exactly $0 profit for himself. Aren’t we all glad to be having our rights removed because a studio doesn’t feel like they’re making enough money? (Yes, before the trolls come in, this doesn’t excuse his actions, but there’s nothing in the actual actions that defends this kind of response).

btr1701 (profile) says:

Mistake

> Apparently, the person they were actually looking for no
> longer lived at the address, but it didn’t stop police from
> taking the guy to the police station where he was interrogated
> mainly by FACT employees with the police just sitting back
> and taking notes.

That’s not what the linked article says. It says the cops went to the first address, found out that the suspect didn’t live there anymore, then went to the place where he currently lives and arrested him there. They didn’t arrest anyone at the first address.

> The person they were looking for no longer lived at the address
> but in the space of 15 minutes three cars, four detectives and
> two FACT officers HAD MADE IT TO THE CORRECT LOCATION.

> Armed with an emergency search warrant issued out of hours
> by a judge, police and FACT officers entered the suspect?s home.

Anonymous Coward says:

Remember a while back when that scam was going around in which a message popped up on the screen and said that your activities had been monitored and logged, your files have been encrypted, etc.? I was on a public access computer a few weeks ago and that happened. Everything froze up. So I just manually turned the computer off with the on/off button, turned it back on, and voila! Everything was back to normal.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:

This should really be in the Onion

In a concerted effort with the Met Police, ICE, FACT, MPAA, MI5, CIA, and Interpol; movie piracy was finally vanquished completely.

Special agents successfully raided the house of the 24 year old mastermind of worldwide movie piracy, and have the suspect in custody pending his extradition to the US and subsequent detention in Guantanamo Bay.

Outside of a police station in the West Midlands, Chris Dodd, president of the MPAA proudly proclaimed, “Mission Accomplished.”

Niall (profile) says:

This doesn't sound legal...

Quoting from a Guardian article linked to in the previous wikipedia quote, about if someone could bring a private prosecution against the Prime Minister (then Gordon Brown in 2009) (my emphasis added):

“So, in principle, it is possible for a member of the public to prosecute a public figure for an offence under SOCPA or indeed for fraud. However, even assuming that the difficulties outlined above can be overcome there are two further practical problems. First, a private prosecutor does not have any of the powers of the police to seize evidence or question suspects, and he or she has no right of access to statements, evidence, or other documents held by the CPS. Putting together sufficient evidence to amount to a “case to answer” on the basis of publicly available material will often be tricky. Second, the court may make an order that a party pay costs that have been incurred as a result of an unnecessary or improper act or omission. If it considers that the prosecution was completely misconceived and the defendant incurred costs as a result then there may be a substantial bill to pay.

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