The Serious Organised Crime Anency (SOCA) has seized music blog RnBXclusive and charged its owners with fraud - as well as threatening users of the site with jail time and an "unlimited fine."
RnBXclusive was a blog that claimed to be "dedicated in bringing you the latest and hottest music around since 2008," and offered downloads of some of the latest hit songs, as well as contemporary music videos. However, SOCA claims - with wording that seems more akin to physically taking property from an artist - that "The majority of music files that were available via this site were stolen from the artists."
The most worrying part about this takedown however, is the message that follows in bold red text: "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."
Visiting the site now you get the above messages, as well as a quoted table of your IP address, browser choice and operating system along with the current time. SOCA saw fit to display this along with the message: "The above information can be used to identify you and your location." Is this a warning or a threat? It seems closer to the latter when you read "SOCA has the capability to monitor and investigate you, and can inform your internet service provider of these infringements."
Adding insult to potential criminal charges, the finger shaking concludes with the message: "As 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." The message also offers an alternative to regular RnBXclusive users: pro-music.org.
As leader of the Pirate Party UK, Loz Kaye points out, as noble as it may seem to be protecting the profits of artists, is it really the job of SOCA? The Serious Organised Crime Agency (which according to the official website is designed to tackle "Class A drugs, people smuggling and human trafficking, major gun crime, fraud, computer crime and money laundering") is threatening those that downloaded music with a decade in jail and bankrupcy levels of fines.
Many users of the site and commenters have taken to the official Facebook page of RnBXclusive, with the consensus being quite uniform. In regards to the site damaging artists careers one stated: "This couldn't be more incorrect! There are countless artists that I've discovered through this website and later supported!" Another: "Most artists actually encourage there music being downloaded, for example drake's album "Take Care" had over 100 million illegal downloads in the world but still went platinum :/."
Others merely posted links to alternatives, suggesting the takedown to be ineffective as well as worrying. One however, im1music.net is also inaccessible. However there is no official posting of a SOCA message there as of yet, so whether the organisation is involved in the downtime is unknown.