A man handed a record jail term for online music piracy offenses has been freed less than a year into his sentence. Kane Robinson, owner of defunct pre-release music site Dancing Jesus, was jailed in 2014 and expected to serve 32 months, but was released late last week, much to the delight of his supporters.
Following an investigation carried out by the BPI and IFPI, with assistance from the US Department of Homeland Security, in 2011 file-sharing links forum Dancing Jesus was taken offline.
Two men, one the owner of the site and the other one of the forum’s top uploaders, were arrested by City of London Police. Homeland Security seized a Dancing Jesus server hosted in the United States.
After years of quiet, last October it became evident that the BPI was pursuing a private prosecution against the pair. In January 2014, site owner Kane Robinson of South Shields pleaded guilty to illegally distributing music. Key uploader Richard Graham of Leicestershire entered a guilty plea at a later date.
On November 10, 2014, Robinson and Graham were sentenced and received the harshest punishments ever handed down to UK-based file-sharers. For his part in offering a reported 22,500 links to 250,000 titles, Robinson was sentenced to 32 months. Graham received 21 months.
At the time the sentences were criticized as being both harsh and disproportionate but within months positive signs began to emerge.
In August a posting to a Facebook campaign page titled ‘Justice for Kane Robinson’ carried an optimistic message.
“We saw Kane at the weekend he is doing well and it is hopeful he could be out soon..thanks for all your continued support guys!” it read.
Then last Thursday, after receiving the toughest sentence of its kind and serving time in three separate prisons, Robinson was freed ‘just’ 11 months into his sentence.
His Facebook campaign carried two simple hashtags: #Justice4Kane and #Missioncomplete
It’s unclear why Robinson has been released so early. Chronicle Live said it had approached the Ministry of Justice but the office declined to comment on individual cases. Robinson himself has also remained silent.
TorrentFreak caught up with David Cook, a specialist cyber crime solicitor who was previously instructed to provide expert opinion to the defense in the case. He told TF that he no longer represents Robinson or Graham but confirmed both had previously filed appeals.
“However, this probably has a more simple explanation,” Cook explained.
“A 34 month sentence would equate to 17 months in custody and 17 months ‘on license’ in the community. If a person behaves and is deemed suitable then they may be released earlier.”
Both men will now be looking to rebuild their lives, probably far away from the file-sharing arena.