OiNK Admin: ‘The Logs We Store Aren’t Enough to Incriminate Users’

Speaks out for the first time on IRC and in an interview with the Telegraph about his arrest, the merits of the case against him, and what former users can expect in the future. .

It’s been 3 days now since Alan Ellis, the 24yo admin of OiNK was busted, and the site’s servers seized. Since then, many of us have been wondering what happened to him as well as what’s in store for users of the site.

Well, in a recent chat on IRC he answered a few questions about his arrest and the the status of OiNK’s users logs.

what was the stupidest question they asked?

the police had very limited technical knowledge, which made the interview quite amusing actually.
i wasn’t willing to teach them how to use a computer
they actually wanted me to teach them how to set up a website
i just told them to google it.

do you think at minimum the forums will be restored as a community for discussing music?

i don’t know

Are there any plans for an official OiNK donations fund we can feel comfortable donating to?

not yet

seriously though, what did they accuse you of?

conspiracy to defraud and copyright infringements

are you planned for a trial anytime soon?

the earliest date for trial is 26th december – though highly unlikely

are you still the rightful owner of the oink.cd domain?

unclear

did you anticipate a raid in the past? Did you take any precautions regarding site design and logs and whatnot to protect the community?

the logs we store aren’t enough to incriminate users

The last comment here is the most important because in an article on the Idolator, an american intellectual property lawyer suggested that OiNK users “…should be very, very scared.”

“There are at least two reasons why this is not just your average, everyday, run-of-the-mill file sharing copyright infringement: this involves music that has not yet been commercially released, and money changed hands, ” the lawyer said.

An article in the Telegraph today does hint that the Cleveland Police may be taking a look at the user logs, but between the comments made by Ellis and the prospects of them actually trying to coordinate the arrest of 180,000 users worldwide, I think former users will be able to sleep well at night.

From the Telegraph:

Detectives are thought to be analyzing the databases for details of the invitation system and members’ downloads.
A spokesman for Cleveland Police, responsible the Middlesbrough inquiries, said: “It is too early to tell if we will go after individuals, it all depends on what we find.”

In the same article Ellis does make some interesting points in his defense, arguing that OiNK is similar to sites like Google and actually encourages users to buy CDs by discovering new music they otherwise never would have.

“I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t believe my website breaks the law,” he said. “They don’t understand how it works.”

“The website is very different from how the police are making it out to be. There is no music sold on the site – I am doing nothing wrong.

“When I set up the site I didn’t think I was doing anything illegal and I still don’t. There are 180,000 users and there has been an outcry about what has happened to me.

“People who download music also buy CDs as well. A lot of people download music on the internet to get a taste of it and then later buy the CD.

“But I don’t sell music to people, I just direct them to it. If somebody wants to illegally download music they are going to do it whether my site is there or not.

“If this goes to court it is going to set a huge precedent. It will change the internet as we know it.

“As far as I am aware no-one in Britain has ever been taken to court for running a website like mine. My site is no different to something like Google.

“If Google directed someone to a site they can illegally download music they are doing the same as what I have been accused of. I am not making any Oink users break the law. People don’t pay to use the site.”

It’ll be curious to see how his case fares in court since he didn’t actually host any content. In the meantime I guess users can breathe a sigh of relief.