OiNK Admin Charged With ‘Conspiracy to Defraud,’ Uploaders With Copyright Infringement

In addition, 2 accused uploaders are charged with copyright infringement for having uploaded a single CD.

We’re nearing the October 23rd anniversary of last year when OiNK was shutdown in a joint raid by UK and Dutch police. The raids, if you recall, were coordinated by Interpol following a two-year investigation by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) and the British Phonographic Industry (BPI).

Now comes word that UK police have finally filed charges in the case and they are every bit as odd as one would presume them to be.

It was just 2 months ago Alan ellis, the former Admin of the fabled music-oriented BitTorrent tracker site, had his bail extended for an astonishing 4th time due to an inability by prosecutors to establish charges of criminal wrongdoing.

Now Oink notifies visitors that "On 10 September 2008, Alan Ellis was charged with conspiracy to defraud. There will be a hearing at a Magistrates Court on 24 September 2008, at which point it will be passed to a Crown Court."

The charge allegedly pertains to the site’s donations mechanism in which users contributed to the site to pay for server costs, hosting fees, etc.. UK authorities insist that the site was a money making scheme that was "extremely lucrative."

"Members paid donations via debit or credit cards, ensuring their continued access to the site," reads a press release that followed Operation Ark Royal which targeted the site. "The payments were received electronically into the web site company accounts.

"This is big business, with hundreds of thousands of pounds being made."

But, as everybody knows, the site cost money and certainly no one can claim that they were harmed by the site even if it did allegedly defraud users. If anything, regular users didn’t contribute enough in consideration of how much music they were able to obtain by sharing with others.

Shouldn’t a "conspiracy to defraud" charge require that actual victims come forward to file a complaint of criminal wrongdoing in the first place? If nobody feels they were defrauded in the first place then the only person really being defrauded is the defendant trying to receive a fair trial.

In addition to the case against Ellis, 6 people were accused of being uploaders to the site. Of those 2 have already been excused from further prosecution and 2 have now been formally charged with uploading a single CD.

“I think it’s a sledgehammer to crack a walnut,” said one of them.

Stay tuned.

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