Suspected UK file sharer acquitted

18 Jan 2010

The trial of the first-ever person in the UK to be prosecuted for illegal file sharing has come to an end, with the accused acquitted of conspiracy to defraud on his music-sharing website OiNK.

Alan Ellis, 26, set up membership-only site OiNK in 2004, where users could share and access to free music.

The jury was told that when the home-run website was shut down after a police raid in 2007, authorities found nearly US$300,000 in Ellis’ PayPal account and that he was receiving $18,000 per month from users’ donations, according to the BBC website.

The UK software engineer told the court that there was never any intention to defraud copyright holders and that the money earned through the website was used for maintenance costs with “surplus” to be used for a new server.

Torrent files

It was revealed in court that the OiNK website did not actually host any files on its servers but rather hosted torrent files that pointed users towards content stored and uploaded from host computers, similar to the way The Pirate Bay operated.

This acquittal is in contrast to the Pirate Bay trial held in April 2009, in which the founders, Peter Sunde, Fredrik Neij, Gottfrid Svartholm and Carl Lundström, were each sentenced to one year in jail and a US$3.6-million fine to be paid between them.

According to the UK Independent, a spokesperson for the BPI (British Phonographic Industry) said the verdict was “disappointing” and “out of line with decisions made in similar cases around the world, such as The Pirate Bay.”

By Marie Boran

Photo: The OiNK website was designed as a place where users could share and access music for free