OiNK torrent tracker administrator acquitted after two years of litigation

Original author: Jacqui Cheng, Ars Technica
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For reference: OiNK.cd was the most famous private music torrent tracker, on which musicians' albums that were not yet on sale were often distributed. You could get there only by invitation, but getting them was much more difficult than on Habré;) Closing OiNK has become a problem for many music critics around the world, many of whom received fresh recordings thanks to this tracker. A few hours ago, the administrator and creator of OiNK acquitted the court. I will not comment on this decision, but I will leave this right to you. However, in seriousness this case is not inferior to the case of The Pirate Bay.

A UK court acquitted the administrator of the OiNK torrent tracker for the only charge against him: complicity in fraud against copyright owners. Despite attempts by music figures to portray him as a cunning liar who made money from other people's hard work, twenty-six-year-old Alan Ellis was found not guilty last Friday by secret ballot by a panel of jurors of the Teesside Crown court.

The OiNK tracker drama began in October 2007, when police confiscated the servers on which he worked and arrested Ellis. This was preceded by a two-year investigation into the activities of the tracker by two international organizations representing the interests of copyright holders (IFPI and BPI). Cleveland Police (a city in England, not in the USA - approx. ) stated that the “hundreds of thousands of pounds sterling” received by the tracker were hidden in various bank accounts, and IFPI claimed that more than 180,000 “hardcore” users distributed popular demos and mixes released before the legal release through the OiNK private tracker.

Soon after Ellis’s arrest, the police investigated some of OiNK’s actions , but she was unable to find evidence of a connection between them and the resource administrator. Over time, Ellis was released on bail, but the case itself lasted more than two years. The prosecution called OiNK a “cash cow” and claimed that Ellis received about 300,000 pounds, and tracker users made about 21 million illegal downloads.

Ellis, of course, claimed that he only provided a service akin to Google: OiNK only encouraged users to find each other what they were looking for. When Birgitte Andersenok, a professor at the University of London, provided evidence that file sharing actually led to increased sales of music, the music industry accused her counting as “junk” and stated that Ellis was saying “continuous, cunning, deliberate” lies.

Ellis’s lawyer noted that he was in constant contact with copyright owners before OiNK was closed in 2007, but neither IFPI nor anyone else asked him to stop the tracker. Not only that, before the IFPI helped close the site, musicians used it to promote their music. “If anyone acts dishonestly, then it’s them,” said lawyer Alex Stein.

Apparently, last Friday after hearing the final arguments of the prosecution and the defense, the jury agreed with the lawyer by voting in a secret ballot in favor of Ellis. The process was the first of its kind in the UK, and jury trials will be a serious problem for some music professionals who have long been trying to strangle peer-to-peer networks. IFPI did not comment on the court decision, and a BPI spokesperson told The Register that the organization was unhappy with the outcome of the process. “This is a disappointing verdict that gets knocked out by other decisions taken on similar cases around the world, such as The Pirate Bay,” he said. “This shows that artists and record companies need better protection.”

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