"A man who ran a music-sharing website with almost 200,000 members has been found not guilty of conspiracy to defraud at Teesside Crown Court.Well this is interesting. Is this the UK's own homegrown Pirate Bay case only coming out in reverse, or is it merely a blip from a perverse jury probably stuffed full of students and ne'er do wells? We may not find out for some time..
Alan Ellis, 26, was the first person in the UK to be prosecuted for illegal file-sharing...
Oink facilitated the download of 21 million music files...During the trial, which lasted seven days, Teesside Crown Court heard that users were required to make a donation to be able to invite friends to join the site.e jury was also told that Mr Ellis received $18,000 (£11,000) a month in donations from people using his website."
Some very strange elements here. Users had to make "donations" - yet they, who were looking for free music, donated £11,000 a month? How good was this site? An earlier Beeb story tells us "The court heard that membership to Oink was free, but by invitation only, and anyone wishing to propose a friend had to make a five dollar payment." Er that's an entry fee NOT a donation..
Te money was alleged to be used to buy a new server. You can buy a decent server for about £1000 or less these days..not £11K per month. The site was designed not to "defraud" but to allow the owner to practice his skills to bcome employable, he claimed. Yet "the website was developed from a free template, which had a torrent file-sharing facility included in it". In other words, it came as a kit. Not terribly skill enhancing? And this unemployed worker wannabe had $300,000 in his bank account when the police raided. All this rather points to the perverse jury theory.
Why did the CPS go for conspiracy to defraud anyway? Why not as in Sweden, a criminal copyright offence, since given the "donations" and profits, surely there is as much evidence of commercial trading in copyright infringement as with any normal geezer selling CDs off the back of a van? Did they decide not to take that approach because it was a torrent site not a hosting site? That would be my guess (although of course the Pirate Bay was a torrent site too) - it would be great if someone out there knows more.
Not a good week for the music industry altogether, as BIS back peddles on clause 17 of the DEB as well! Perhaps the most interesting sociological point here is to wonder why the jury came in with such a strange verdict. Has the music industry dug their own grave by making their enforcement tactics so alienating that juries will turn their back on overwhelming evidence of guilt? Hubris, ate??