UK record industry seeks to financially ruin leaders of the Pirate Party

Ever since the UK record labels got a court to order our national ISPs to censor The Pirate Bay, the UK Pirate Party has been offering a proxy that allows Britons to connect to the site and all the material it offers, both infringing and non-infringing.

The record industry has finally struck back. Rather than seeking an injunction against the proxy, or suing the party, it has individually sued the party's executives, seeking to personally bankrupt them and their families. It's an underhanded, unethical, and unprecedented threat to democracy -- essentially a bid to use their financial and legal might to destroy a political party itself.

There's a fundraiser, and I've given more than I can afford to it -- £500 -- because this is plain, old fashioned, corporate bullying. I don't always agree with everything the Pirate Parties do, and I'm not a member of the UKPP, but I'm glad the Pirate Party exists, and I believe that hosting a proxy to the Pirate Bay was a political act, and that the record industry has gone after the personal lives of the executive in order to terrorise people who organise against them. They mustn't be allowed to do this.

Instead of targeting just the Pirate Party, the BPI’s solicitors are now threatening legal action against six individual members. Aside from its leader Loz Kaye, the BPI also sent threats to four other members of the National Executive and the party’s head of IT.

“We had been anticipating legal action ever since I received an email from Geoff Taylor of the BPI. What has taken me aback is that this threat is personally directed. I simply can not see what the music industry think can be positively gained by threatening to bankrupt me and other party officers,” Kaye says.

Making the site’s members personally liable is the ultimate pressure, as they then have all their personal belongings – including their family homes – on the line. Kaye is disappointed with the BPI’s move, not least because the music industry group refused to negotiate the issue.

“Throughout, the party and I have been open to dialogue. Contrary to reports I offered to meet Geoff Taylor for discussion, but this has been rebuffed, at this point we are talking with our legal advisers and will respond to the solicitors in due course. The Pirate Party’s political position remains this – site blocking is disproportionate and ineffective.”

Music Industry Threatens to Bankrupt Pirate Party Members [TorrentFreak]


  1. Negotiating would mean they weren’t the unquestioned boss. Of course, making threats is usually what people who know they don’t have a good argument do.

  2. These motherfuckers don’t seem to realize two can play that game. We know where they live, where they go to church, their prominent friends, where they socialize, the businesses they frequent. Doxing and flash mobs. Let’s make them terrified to leave their houses, and make them cower even there from the picketers outside. They want to bring the fight home to a personal level? Let’s return the favor!

      1. Mike Batt wrote the Wombles songs. Surely, with the message he spread to kids about finding and reusing the things the ordinary folks leave behind, he’d be the last person to join the BPI copyight cartels?

  3. Maybe I am being dense, but what is the legal threat?  I certainly wouldn’t put it past copyright Nazi’s to do something nasty and underhanded, but without evidence or even the naming of the threat, it is pretty hard to take this seriously and start throwing money at them.

      1. They have not taken them to court or, as far as I know, no one has even clarified what the threat was.  My point is that you have one side (that I am generally sympathetic with) claiming that they are being threatened, yet failing to disclose even a little bit of information about the actual threat.  It seems a wee bit fishy.  

        I might be inclined to agree with their politics, that doesn’t make them automatically honest.

      2. UK is English rule for fees, not American rule. All attorney’s fees are paid by the losing party. A multitude of hopeless cases usually won’t bankrupt the target, as they can in the US.

    1.  They’re (probably) working off the assumption that the court will accept that TPB is infringing, and therefore make the case that the executives are wilfully aiding infringement by continuing to operate the proxy. This approach pains me given that one of the defendants hasn’t even been in the post for much over a week, and had little to do with the proxy.

  4. If you don’t like the copyright tactics, organize an effective boycott of the music recording industry,   Hit them in their pocketbooks.

    1. BPI produces nothing but propaganda that pirates are stealing kajillions of dollars from the recording industry and try to get more laws giving them more powers.
      If you boycott the labels, sales drop… they blame piracy, not the underhanded tactics used by BPI.

      If you want to take them down, someone would need to get all of dirty secrets that BPI, the employees, and the cartels in the US funding them try to keep hidden.  Not that I think it would help much, Dodd admitted to buying the laws he wanted and not even a ripple of concern.

      1. From

        The BPI is the representative voice of the UK recorded music business. We are a trade organisation funded by our members – which include the UK’s four major record labels and hundreds of independent music companies. BPI members account for approximately 90% of all recorded music sold in the UK, and globally the UK’s recorded music market is the third biggest.


        Want to hurt the BPI?  Hurt their members.  Stop buying recorded music.

        1. Lets meet in the middle, boycott the cartels, expose all of their dirty secrets, then demand and get things changed.

  5. I’m sure advertising the effect that your intending to sue someone simply to harm them financially is illegal somehow,  contempt of using the court system maybe? Isn’t court for resolving issues legally and civilly not for using it to attack someone.  If it was published what laws there actions violates and the details of there legal team is released I’m sure a couple of thousand plus complaints to who ever regulates legal professionals will put them out of action and again till no one will represent them.  Each complaint will have to be investigated.

    1. In the U.S. We have the principle of vexatious litigation. But that only really applies to one party continuously suing another repeatedly even when they’re dismissed every time. Sort of like getting a restraining order put on a stalker who refuses to leave you alone after multiple reprimands.

      There might be a case to be made as to abuse of the justice system though.

      1. If a case is abusive enough, the courts will often award the defendant’s legal fees.  If the RIAA has to pay for the defense against what is clearly frivolous litigation, it might back them off.

        1. Yep. Vexatious litigation means wasting so much court time that the vexatious litigant is considered a nuisance by the court itself.

          I think this situation better fits with an abuse of the courts, or some kind of SLAPP.

          Does the U.K. have any kind of anti-SLAPP legislation?

          1. This woman is a sort of perverted celebrity in San Francisco. She sued school children for walking by her house, but it took hundreds of suits before the courts smooshed her. And it still didn’t stop her.

    2.  I don’t believe the courts will look too kindly on this case simply because the BPI haven’t taken reasonable steps for resolution, but it’s hard to tell and IANAL. It would be interesting to see this angle of copyright legally tested though, because it hasn’t been so far.

  6. Frankly, whether or not you care about the Pirate Party– I don’t– this is a dangerous threat to democracy.  We already let corporations buy elections; are we going to let them ruin the ones that they lose, too?

  7. Organizations typically buy insurance for their officers for these kinds of reasons.  The british mafiaa is suing these guys probably for all they are worth. (Future officers will probably already be judgment proof.) Perhaps there is a some corresponding counterclaim to countersue for all the plaintiffs are worth- which is considerably more. I am not going to speculate about the details of such a claim, just mentioning a logical possibility. Also could be lucrative if defendants win and get awarded legal fees, and agree with their lawyers to a 50-50 split.

     However, for pirates to respond to lawyer tactics (only) with more lawyer tactics is not the optimum strategy. Responding with pirate tactics may be more cost-effective and fun. Perhaps these folks should receive formal invitations to a keelhauling.

  8. I’m just wondering, does this mean that any out of work lawyer can just decide to sue  corporate executive for something the company has done, too, or does limited liability in organizations only apply to corporations.  (If so, it might make sense for organizations like the pirate arty to incorporate, so that a judgement against their executives would set a precedent limiting the limits of individual liability for the actions of an LLC.)

    1. Most freelancers have professional indemnity insurance to protect themselves if someone goes for the person rather than the company.

      I suspect you’re more likely to win if you sue the company, and that you’ll get more compensation (companies tend to be richer than individuals).

      So going for the man is more for its “chilling effect”.

      Tesco threatened to sue the editor of the Guardian a couple of years back, rather than the newspaper company itself.

  9. Nothing but a “smart” strategy, taking full advantage of the law that should have been anticipated. See it as a unique opportunity to demonstrate our solidarity and to contribute in filling this legal gap against our freedom of expression…

  10.  Quick question into the void: What is the average Brit’s opinion of the British legal system? Flawed but generally fair? Corrupt to the core? Can you trust judges (perhaps after a few appeals) to make sound decisions? Can they actually see around the wigs? Do they actually still wear those ridiculous things? I know the answers in my home country, but I’ve no idea about Britain.

    1. Flawed but generally fair? Yes

      Corrupt to the core? No. There are problems – the system can be biased in favour of the rich, as it can take a lot of money and time.

      Can you trust judges (perhaps after a few appeals) to make sound decisions? The judges have a reputation of being fair, trustworthy but old-fashioned. They tend to all come from the same class, as becoming a barrister is very expensive, be white and male. They have to work within the system and laws. Some laws, such as libel, badly need revising.  

      They still wear wigs costing $2000 a go. The argument is they gives them anonymity and gravitas. They can walk down the street after the trial without being noticed. Not sure why a £20 hat wouldn’t achieve the same effect, though.

  11. Its time to get these Racketeers (the BPI, RIAA, MPAA, etc) declared as anti-trust. They are the ones that need to be sued out of existance. They are the real pirates stealing from the creatives (those few creatives that defend the Racketeers, are suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome or are the .01% that actually get rich).

  12. I sense a possible own goal here: if the officers of the PP resign, then they cannot tell the PP to remove their proxy any more, and the personal lawsuits become harassment?

    1.  They’re not asking PPUK to remove their proxy (although it would be a condition of their victory), they’re accusing the existing officers of infringing (or aiding infringment of) copyright. They can continue to pursue that case even if the officers resign, but obviously they couldn’t therefore compel them to shut down the proxy. However, the damages they would gain from a victory would easily allow them to take the next batch of officers to court if they continued to refuse.

      Disclaimer: I’m not a lawyer, don’t take any of the above as fact.

  13. It’s much cheaper to hire a hit man on the dark web than to deal with this shit the right way….. just sayin’

    That’s a kickstarter I’d donate to.

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