Alan Ellis, the founder of the OiNK BitTorrent tracker, has been found not guilty of fraud.
At the end of the two week trial the jury returned a unanimous verdict (12 to 0). Alan Ellis is not guilty of Conspiracy to Defraud the music industry. He walked out of Teesside Crown Court a free man today, his name cleared. The verdict cannot be appealed and Ellis can finally put the past behind him and move on.
Ellis's defense made a strong attack on the music industry:
For the defense, Alex Stein said that Ellis had never knowingly acted dishonestly and that in 2004 when OiNK was launched, it was a “brave new world” on the Internet. “In many societies he’d be an innovator, a creator, a Richard Branson. His talent would be moulded, not crushed by some sort of media organization,” he said. The media organization being referred to by Stein was the IFPI, who he said had never requested that OiNK be shut down, and had instead “sat and watched.”
Gazette Live reports that Stein went on to launch a scathing attack on the IFPI: “They used this site. Their own members used this site to promote their own music and now they’re crushing him. Maybe he grew too big for them, maybe they’ve taken a different marketing approach. I don’t know. But it was decided that this site should be taken down.”
This case raises some questions:
1. Why was Ellis charged with fraud? Fraud in essence means using deception to get money. It seems obvious to me that running a BitTorrent tracker isn't using deception, unless you go round telling people it is'nt a BitTorrent tracker. Why wasn't he instead charged with contributory copyright infringement?
2. Is he allowed to put Oink back up again? If not, the authorities are negating the verdict of their own courts.
3. Since he has been found not guilty, are the police and/or IFPI going to compensate him for the loss of revenue while OiNK was down? If not, this is a serious miscarriage of justice.