back to article UK BitTorrent admin acquitted on fraud charge

Alan Ellis, the former admin of music BitTorrent tracker OiNK, was acquitted of conspiracy to defraud by a Middlesbrough court today. In a landmark trial, the 26-year-old stood accused of making $300,000 in user donations from the invite-only service, which members used to share high quality and pre-release music. Ellis' …

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  1. This post has been deleted by its author

  2. Tom Kelsall

    One in the eye for the BPI...

    ...and the CPS and the Police. Wounds being licked all over the place.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Congratulations

    Does that mean he can now start up Oink again and sue the police for over two years loss of earnings?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    And who, pray, will pay for all of this?

    I'd suggest the bill goes to the BPI - after all, they were the ones who instigated this and told some real whoppers on their site about Oink!

    AC for this, but mine's the one with the FOI request addressed to Cleveland Police....

  5. telecine
    Thumb Up

    WIN

    What fantastic news! Congrats to Alan and two fingers to the BPI and the rest of them. HOW LONG has this case taken to get to this point/? And the FAIL in an epic style .....

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    private police?

    "He had been arrested in a dawn raid by Cleveland police in October 2007, acting on intelligence from the BPI."

    So the BPI called their tamed police on this guy, no doubt after some serious lobbying to get it the political will, then and this is the unforgivable bit, they filmed it.

    It is one thing to make these cop shows which show raids on dealers who have a load of drugs in their kitchen or something, but it was far from clear that this was an open and shut case.

    Sue the Police and BPI !

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Costs

    It is now time for the court to award costs, £1,000,000 against the BPI seems fair.

  8. irish donkey
    Thumb Up

    So how long before a change in the law......

    Maybe with a retrospectic application.

    Well done Alan but with the money the BPI are going to throw at this I think you will be the last one to get away with this.

  9. Si 1
    FAIL

    Whoops

    Looks like the BPI will need to bribe the government to change some more laws to prevent this happening again.

  10. bexley

    fantastic

    Justice has been done

  11. Ally J
    Big Brother

    Watch the news....

    Anyone care to bet how long it takes for Messrs Bono, Sharkey, et. al. to start asking for non-jury trials in cases like this 'as the facts were clearly too complex' for the simple jurors to grasp?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Alert

      @Ally J

      Au contraire, mon brave.

      I think the jury very clearly understood the situation. They did was the Judge-in-the-RIAA-Pocket decided not to do in Sweden, listen to the actual arguments and submissions from the BPI. This is a verdict that shows, where 12 good men and true are involved, legal justice can be served.

      The full costs for the trial, and the Cleveland plod overtime, and the damages claim that Oink should submit, should directly be billed to the BPI.

      1. Colin Guthrie
        Thumb Down

        @AC

        I think you missed the point of Ally J's post.... /me hopes you're not in a jury anytime soon :p

      2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        @anonymous

        That is precisely Ally's point. Ally didn't say that the jury didn't understand, but how long until BPI use it as an excuse? After all, less people to buy off then, no?

  12. kerr smith

    Excellent!

    This is brilliant news and exactly the correct outcome of the trial!

  13. keddaw
    Megaphone

    The sueee becomes the suer

    Why doesn't he sue the BPI for slander? Surely what they said, right after it had been proven in a court of law that he didn't, is actionable.

  14. richard 55
    Thumb Up

    Fantastic

    Well done on showing 'em. A shame that Alan was put through all this though

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      and

      and, indeed, contempt of court. The judge should have fined them.

  15. Vladimir Plouzhnikov

    Operation Ark Royal?

    Seems like it was torpedoed in Home waters.

  16. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Up

    Fantastic

    Hopefully police forces will now think twice when the BPI phone them up and order them to raid somebody's home at dawn.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    BPI says: guilty even when acquitted in court

    "The defendant made nearly £200,000 by exploiting other people's work without permission. The case shows that artists and music companies need better protection."

    The case shows no such thing. The jury said "not guilty", so he is not guilty, so the BPI's allegations were without merit. Yet they persist. Defamation charges, anyone?

    I really don't care that other jurisdictions think deep-linking and providing search services can make the small man liable (but it apparently doesn't do that to google?), or rather, I do, and I think they are criminally wrong. No wonder the BPI likes them.

    1. Adrian Challinor
      FAIL

      BPI says: guilty even when acquitted in court → #

      "The defendant made nearly £200,000 by exploiting other people's work without permission. The case shows that artists and music companies need better protection."

      No this is just WRONG. He made £200,000 by getting people to register with his site. He did not charge for downloads. He did not censor what was put up for downloading. Just like Google in that respect.

      The BPI should be sued for damages over this, as well as damages done to his reputation and loss of income on what has BEEN PROVEN TO BE LEGAL.

      1. Richard IV
        Headmaster

        Actually

        NOT been proven to be ILLEGAL

        There's a huge difference. The prosecution didn't prove their case with respect to the charges that were brought. Quite how making money by providing exactly the service that was being paid for constitutes conspiracy to defraud is beyond me - surely they'd have stood a better chance on something along the lines of aiding and abetting or one of the other conspiracy offences...

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Flame

    er...

    Am I the only person here that thinks this wasnt really the correct outcome? He was blatantly taking the piss and making a profit from running the site. Almost every single torrent on there was for copyrighted content, he was morally vastly in the wrong. Legally speaking, he's as guilty as goodle but with more focussed intent.

    I cant believe everyone here thinks this is the correct moral outcome?

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge
      Stop

      but

      there is a distinct difference between moral and legal. This guy did nothing illegal. I bet you can use google to search for child pornography. Should we arrest the google owners? MSN will no doubt have links to bomb making sites encouraging people to blow up others. Should they be locked away too?

      They went about it the wrong way and paid the heavy price for it.

    2. John G Imrie Silver badge
      Stop

      My thaughts on the morality of the outcome

      are neither here nor there.

      The BPI chose to fight this on a Legal battle field, more over one that they had stacked heavily in their favour.

      The fact that they are claiming he is guilty after the court declared his innocence speaks volumes about their real respect for the law.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Megaphone

      Not quite.

      The moral issue it is not really what's being supported as far as I can see, it's the legal issue.

      The fact is, he did not provide the files themselves, it was entirely user driven. Had they found him guilty for the actions of the userbase, it would have had an earth-shatteringly negative effect on the internet as a whole, and would effectively mandate every website owner that allows user-generated content to monitor and censor all of said content.

      It should be painfully obvious by now, that this simply isn't practical for any site with a fairly large userbase, and I'm sure you can understand, this would be a "bad thing".

      While I don't dispute that his intent was very probably less than honourable, the fact is, this was still the best outcome for theat irritatingly vague concept of "the greater good". The BPI's mistake was going after him, instead of the actual infringers themselves who used the site. It appears to have been a gamble on their part to try to sidestep the difficulties in identifying the site's members and proving their guilt, whilst still making some money out of it.

      As a result of all this, I'm pleased with the outcome of the case. I just hope that people learn from this, and instead of trying to take out service providers, focus instead on those who are actually committing the acts of piracy.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As opposed to every torrent through BT?

      "Almost every single torrent on there was for copyrighted content, he was morally vastly in the wrong. Legally speaking, he's as guilty as goodle but with more focussed intent."

      So is every torrent through BT, and they are making a profit carrying that traffic. The question before the court is, "Is that fraud". As far as I can see, the answer is no, and the only reason for trying a fraud charge was because the police could then seize the money under the proceeds of crime act. WTF were they thinking, fraud!??

      As to whether its moral to run a bit torrent tracker. If you make it a crime to run a torrent tracker, then you need to go arrest the BBC, whose iPlayer was originally a torrent based player.

      You may not like that smugglers use the ferry to bring their goods in, but just because it's easier to go after the ferry operator doesn't mean it's the right thing to do.

      BPI should have gone to court to seize the log files for copyright infringers using the site, then pursued them, but he was just such an easier target, and it appears the police thought they could use the TV to pre-demonize him enough to make it a sure win.

      This is the right outcome, even the most healthy outcome.

      It's just a pity that no business could ever set up in the UK if they may face a copyright claim, no Flickr, not YouTube startup, no MP3 ripping software even, because the police would raid their offices, seize their assets and shut them down on malicious 'fraud' charges.

    5. cannon
      Go

      Immoral

      the web site was every bit as Immoral as the BIP (RIAA) conduct their own affairs.

      RIAA, CRIA, SOUNDEXCHANGE, BPI, PRS, IFPI, ASCAP, Ect:

      # Sony BMG

      # Warner Music Group

      # Universal Music Group

      # EMI

      MPAA, MPA, FACT, AFACT, Ect:

      # Sony Pictures

      # Warner Bros. (Time Warner)

      # Universal Studios (NBC Universal)

      # The Walt Disney Company

      # 20th Century Fox (News Corporation)

      # Paramount Pictures Viacom—(DreamWorks owners since February 2006)

      And these companies are all owned by these few, these are the companies that dictate our culture by promoting theirs & blocking indie artists:

      # BMG (sony)

      # Time Warner

      # Viacom

      # News Corp (Fox)

      # General Electric

      http://films.nfb.ca/rip-a-remix-manifesto/

      RIAA Claims Ownership of All Artist Royalties For Internet Radio

      http://slashdot.org/articles/07/04/29/0335224.shtml

      "With the furor over the impending rate hike for Internet radio stations, wouldn't a good solution be for streaming internet stations to simply not play RIAA-affiliated labels' music and focus on independent artists? Sounds good, except that the RIAA's affiliate organization SoundExchange claims it has the right to collect royalties for any artist, no matter if they have signed with an RIAA label or not. 'SoundExchange (the RIAA) considers any digital performance of a song as falling under their compulsory license. If any artist records a song, SoundExchange has the right to collect royalties for its performance on Internet radio. Artists can offer to download their music for free, but they cannot offer their songs to Internet radio for free ... So how it works is that SoundExchange collects money through compulsory royalties from Webcasters and holds onto the money. If a label or artist wants their share of the money, they must become a member of SoundExchange and pay a fee to collect their royalties.'"

      http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2007/4/24/14132

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Pirate

      asked and answered

      "Am I the only person here that thinks this wasnt really the correct outcome?"

      Pretty much, yup.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Common Carrier Arc Royal

    He should sue the BPI for making a false allegation against him and the police for turning it into a media circus. Their comments are libelous.

    If Google was a UK startup company then the BPI would be sending the police after them, and the police would be releasing private details of Googles bank accounts, and inviting the TV cameras in to film the raid, in operation 'approved by the Queen'.

    He has common carrier status, they know this and the choice of name 'Arc Royal' suggests the police knew he had common carrier status even at the start.

    Just because he was an easier target for them to go after, doesn't excuse their actions, they need to go after INFRINGERS, not the family of infringers, not ISPs, not Blogs, websites who link to infringment, INFRINGERS.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    quite simply

    Part of the problem with the jury is they'll either not be technical enough to understand and could therefore be swayed by a convincing argument they don't understand, or if they are technical enough they're probably at it themselves.

    The same applies to the judges, although as we've seen with TPB some know too much.

  21. David 105
    Thumb Up

    BPI Unhappy = Bad News for us

    "This is a hugely disappointing verdict which is out of line with decisions made in similar cases around the world, such as The Pirate Bay."

    Ah yes, the Pirate bay trial, where the defence was amending the charge sheet as the trial was underway, AND the judge was found to be a member of a pro-copyright lobby group and it WASN'T a conflict of interest.

    So they're disappointed that it wasn't a kangaroo stitch up and the correct legal principles were followed?

    Expect TDL(tm) to be taken out for dinner on a lot mor yachts in the near future

  22. Alexander Hanff 1
    Thumb Down

    Suprised

    I suspect the only reason he did win this case is because it was a criminal prospecution with a jury trial. I think the next move we will see will be for the BPI to sue him in civil court for secondary and vicarious infringement - a case he will find much more difficult to win.

    I woudl suggest he files for costs and loss of earnings as soon as possible so he can defend the next inevitable step by the BPI.

    1. Alexander Hanff 1

      Thumbs down

      By the way my thumbs down was with regards to what will happen next, not the judgement in this case.

      The BPI were stupid to go for a criminal prosecution, they faced a huge risk with a jury trial especially for conspiracy to defraud.

      If they wanted to win they should have gone the litigation route and vicarious infringement, it would be difficult for him to argue he did not benefit financially and would probably have concluded with a judgement against him with far higher damages than the criminal case would have got them.

      Thankfully the BPI went the sensationalist route and paid the consequences for being stupid - but as I said, I don't think he is off the hook just yet.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Go for criminal libel

      If that criminal libel act is still in force, he should go after them hard. When the court says he is not guilty and they repeat a blatant libel like that in the face of a court decision, he needs to go for a slap down.

      http://www.opsi.gov.uk/RevisedStatutes/Acts/ukpga/1819/cukpga_18190008_en_1

      The BPI would find out how little support this has in the UK. How many YouTube users think that Google should be arrested for fraud because users post copyright material on You Tube?

      Their position is undefended and it would give everyone the opportunity to discuss what Mandelson is up to with his 'Digital Economy Bill', AKA 'Ban YouTube, Torrents, MP3 ripping software, etc. Bill' and pretend that's somehow good for Britain and not just Mandelson and his yacht owning friends)

    3. Igor Mozolevsky
      Thumb Up

      utter failure of logic

      So your logic is that the jury were either too stupid or that they do it themselves?..

      The Fraud Act 2006, if he was indeed charged under it, requires a number of criteria to be met, which of the section 2-4 of the Act could possibly apply -- did he make false representation, failed to disclose information or abused his position???

  23. Uk_Gadget

    Was He Taking The...

    ...Piss. Perhaps he should run for Prime Minister..

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    well I tried to post this on the original article...

    ... but they closed it to comments, so here goes one last time:

    "A man who ran an illegal pirate music site which allowed 21 million downloads had almost $300,000 in his bank account when police raided his home"

    So, there we have it, the *real* market value of 21 million downloads (presumably each one being an entire album) is actually about 1.4 cents per download/album, or 0.9 of our British pennies.

    That's right, an entire album is worth only a fraction of a penny in ad revenue and donations, and we're to believe the industry is losing £1.7billion? Did someone order a reality check?

    ____

    I just saw a BBC News hit piece about how his site made him £20k in savings, and they were making him out to be some kind of despicably wealthy arch criminal. £20k is toilet paper to the people who run this country, but if the prols are ever caught with that much money in one place, god help them.

    It stinks to high heaven.

  25. Lex 2
    Pirate

    Register - Could you please pass on a message

    World -> BPI (in fact *PI)

    Absolutely no member of the public (at least none I have ever met) like you, the work you are doing, or have any respect for your organisation.

    Even Stephen Fry is his latest podcast has listed his dislike to the *PI actions.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    "intelligence from the BPI"

    The BPI clearly have no intelligence :

    "This ... is out of line with decisions made in similar cases around the world"

    If they had any intelligence, they would know that other countries' laws don't apply in the UK.

    1. heyrick Silver badge
      Flame

      Indeed...

      Along with the RIAA nonsense and the shouting vocal "labels" they're pissing all over our existing copyright laws, criminalising millions, and all this to support their own business and profits... and astonishingly the various governments are buying into this. I bet they thought they'd become near-omnipotent.

      Whether or not the accused is/was morally repungant is neither here nor there. The BPI aren't angels and they aren't doing anything in OUR interests, only their own. It is time they got bitchsplapped. Our laws exist to provide a framework of sanity in our civilisation. They don't exist to be trampled on by greedy wealthy corporations with vested interests.

    2. Chris007
      Joke

      @ Register - Could you please pass on a message

      Well if Stephen Fry dislikes the *PI actions then it really really must be a naughty organisation and his diatrabe will no doubt lead to a revolution on the streets against it.....

  27. CareTaker
    Flame

    @ dave 37

    This is the correct moral outcome. There is nothing wrong with making money from a website, regardless of its users use it, ask Mark Zuckerberg. Would you jail Australian poppy growers because someone took their poppies and made heroin from them instead of codeine? Do you prosecute road builders because people exceed speed limits? The fact of the matter is he made a website for the free exchange of music. If anything illegal was occurring because of his site it was down to the users. If he was to be found guilty, then Virgin Media, BT and all the other internet service providers are also guilty. Since they charge users to transmit data using their hardware and some of that data is transmitted illegally. I am generally opposed to intellectual property rights in most forms. How is it right that a musician can record or perform a song once and be paid multiple times and tell you how to play it? If a farmer grows a potato, we do not have to pay multiple times for it and there are no imposed restrictions on how to cook or eat the potato either. I also object to the TV (tax) licence for similar reasons. We pay a fee to the (taxman) BBC, who then play a song multiple times and pay royalties for each broadcast, a song goes to number 1 mostly on the strength of this. We are effectively paying the BBC to advertise for record labels which we then pay again to buy their music. I personally believe that anyone who pays their TV (tax) licence or subscribes to Sky or Virgin should be able to download what the hell they like, as they have already paid for it multiple times through subscription or licence fees, adverts and so on.

  28. dreadful scathe
    Thumb Up

    BPI? idiots

    echoing others as usual but while "The defendant made nearly £200,000" - yes, so? how much do you think Google makes from ads despite allowing people to search for torrents, warez, mp3s or anything else where the destination you are sent to may not be entirely legitimate? A tad more than that I am sure. :)

    Well done that court.

  29. kissingthecarpet
    Thumb Up

    Excellent

    One in the eye for the scum - sorry for the shit he's had to put up with though.

    Here's to jury trials (most of the time :-) )

    1. Chris007
      Big Brother

      @ Excellent

      You said "Here's to jury trials (most of the time :-) )"

      Hence NuLabors many attempts to remove as many trial by jury options as possible to simply a judge (or 3) who obviously would remain totally impartial....

  30. Stuart Elliott

    \o/

    Excellent news, pleased for you Alan.

  31. Julian Bond
    Badgers

    Mandy

    "The case shows that artists and music companies need better protection."

    So I guess they'll be flying the Evil Lord Mandelson off on an all expenses paid trip to the Caribbean. He'll still be around no matter who gets in at the next election so keeping him sweet writing a few more advertorials for the copyright biz in The Times will still be cheap publicity even if he can't direct government policy to the same extent.

    Mandelson and Badgers? I feel sure Matthew Parris will announce the connection on Radio 4 shortly.

  32. Dick Emery

    Appeal?

    I assume the BPI can appeal this decision like most court cases? I don't see the end of it yet.

  33. Puck
    Flame

    I smell freetards

    I'm sorry, but if you think it's OK to shrink the creative economy whilst enjoying its products, you're clearly a narcissistic, selfish, solipsist automaton and deserve to be made to work in Primark or Poundland to pay for your passive consumer kicks, said kicks being restricted to a diet of ITV and free-to-air Sky TV, forcefully administered a la Clockwork Orange.

    Someday your automaton children, if they don't wither beforehand through your indifference to wider society, may decide they want to work in the movies or as musicians. But they won't be able to unless it's on 'Britain's Got Talent', or filming adverts for no-win-no-fee solicitors, because their freetard mum/dad thinks nobody should pay for music, film or computer games.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re: I smell freetards

      because people who create or administer technology that can be used for copyright infringement, are themselves infringing on copyright (just as people who manufacture automobiles are automatically guilty of killing anyone who dies in a car accident) and should be punished with hefty life destroying fines. Unless of course they're a big company and can pay for the legal muscle to get away with anything they like, everyone knows the law only applies to those who can't afford a good lawyer.

      And let's not forget, no human being would ever - EVER - write or play music for free, for the enjoyment of writing and playing music. It just doesn't happen. There was no music on planet earth before the record labels, and there will be no music on planet earth after the record labels. And the record labels WILL go the way of the dodo if we don't give them all our money and freedoms RIGHT NOW.

      JUST LIKE THEY DID WHEN THE CASSETTE TAPE WAS INVENTED.

      Remember it's out DUTY to our CHILDREN to stop the FILTHY PIRATES.

      Oh and FYI, I'm now going to HUG and KISS some POISONOUS SNAKES.

    2. heyrick Silver badge
      Megaphone

      @Puck

      How many reputable smaller artists (i.e. the ones that don't already have millions in the bank and actually depend upon their royalties to pay the bills) are speaking out in support of all of this. Few? Practically none?

      [don't quote Bono, he's loaded and evidently doesn't pay taxes so not a role model; don't quote Lily Allen, never a role model]

      Now, how many labels and other involved organisations, which rake in the cash off the back of what somebody else has created, are speaking out. Many? Pretty much all of them?

      You'll find the media/management "freetards" making the most noise. Sure, they do have a job to do with sales/promotion (etc), but when the creators get paid less than the promoters... that shows the system is unfairly balanced.

      I wonder if they realise that the initial push to get Joe Average to look for illegal music was their own damn fault. Rather than releasing a song in digital form, they went that unnecessary step further and tried to tell us what we could do with that song and what we could play it on. DRM was an epic fail.

      In picking up the pieces, they have not learned to be more open and accessible and just do an Amazon and stick a unique ID into each downloaded song. No, they are used to excessive control, it is how they control the majority of the artists on their label. So having had DRM backfire, they wish to rewrite our legislation to let them, effectively, have a lot more control over our internet connections than is good for us. And maybe propose a levy on broadband subscriptions in ADDITION to the levy already applied to blank media... plus laws criminalising such media downloads. Plus making it so much cheaper for them. No more costly copyright theft trials to deal with. Just work on the assumption of "probably already guilty" and trot out those incredibly unrealistic figures at every opportunity.

      You are right Puck, media should be paid for. I'd pay a fiver for an XviD download of a movie (I don't mean a recent blockbuster either, but I can rent a DVD for about that, so a download shouldn't cost more and twenty euros for one film on DVD is reprehensible). I pay for songs. Well, the ones I can find that is. The catalogue for J-Pop is depressingly small.

      There are the freetards who never pay, and probably have little intention of starting now.

      Then there are large media companies who just want to stick their hands in my pockets, rummage around, and take whatever loose change they find. Because I might be a freetard. They don't give a shit, so long as they keep the cash flowing in. This approach might even lead people to look for stuff to download, to feel they are getting some value rather than being passively screwed, but then they're screwed for doing that too.

      It is about morals as well as who pays for what, and as I hope my post illustrates, the water is extremely muddy on both sides of the fence.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Troll

      I smell a troll

      Ah, there it is.

    4. M Gale
      Flame

      I like you.

      You're like a parody of yourself.

      Also yay. Subscription-based search engine in not-guilty-of-hosting-copyrighted-material SHOCKER!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Happy

      re Dick Emery - Appeal

      Actually, as a criminal case I *don't* think the prosecution can appeal. The defendant can, but I'm pretty sure the police / public prosecutor only gets one bite of the apple.

      The phase Double Jeopardy springs to mind.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      ...er no

      This was a *criminal* prosecution. Absent "compelling new evidence", the BPI can fuck off.

    7. Gulfie
      Stop

      Sue Google then...

      I'm sorry but if the technical facts are correct - this is an indexing service - then the guy no more deserves to be found guilty than Google deserves.

      By all means pursue illegal file sharers within the laws of the land. But you can't choose to prosecute a niche search engine for making exactly the same material available as Google.

  34. Law
    Pirate

    lol on downvotes

    Obviously somebody pro-bpi has gone down the comments and down-voted every positive post down here - never seen so many red 1's in a row on here before... ofcourse, then you get 11 reds for a negative comment so I guess it even's out! :)

    Personally, I'm torn both ways on this - ok, he didn't make money, but it's not like he didn't know what they were doing in his forums, I'm pretty sure had it been something like child-porn sharing forum his google defence wouldn't have stood.

    On the plus side though, the music bodies like the bpi are blood sucking zombies and it's nice to see them lose one for once - will be a short lived victory though because mandy and the other mp-drones in their pockets will make sure they have a cut of everything done online, plus excessive internet powers to stop any online movements in the future! :(

  35. Watashi

    Chickens come home to roost

    So, a big "f*ck you very much" from the judicial system to the corporate world. It's no more than the megacorps deserve. Big business is allowed to ignore and avoid the rule of the law on a daily basis, yet persues authoritarian and disproportionate punishment for people who are doing a lot less damage to society than they themselves are.

    The BPI and their chums of Brown and Mandy think the law belongs to the business community; guess what - it doesn't!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Pirate

      exactly what I thought

      lol

  36. Martin Nicholls Silver badge
    FAIL

    Money..

    He made 200k from donations to his site, not from selling torrents or whatever. Who cares who much it was. If somebody makes 50k are they only 1/4 as guilty?

    The BPI are trying to make people hate the guy because he also happened to make some money, in the same way as the TPB trial, but it's completely irrelevant to both cases.

    Is the issue or is it not the piracy?

    And BTW BPI: TBP trial was a joke, even the Iranians can do better show trials. Not anybody else's fault the Netherlands doesn't have a functioning legal system.

  37. M.A

    well done

    great news justice served today.

    Sue them Alen

  38. Andy 97
    Paris Hilton

    BPI = money for old rope

    The most difficult to deal with bunch of chancers I have ever had the misfortune to deal with.

    Please can we have a Nelson [Simpsons] doing a "Ha Ha" icon.

    Paris because she usually gets satisfaction from 12 people at once.

  39. Jacqui

    police force reputation

    Sorry but it is not that difficult to find the real crooks just look for the blue flashing lights...

    Anyone remember the gagging order on the newspapers about the "repairs" done to a certain chief constables house some 10 to 20 years ago using police force funds? The gagging order was taken out by the force itself (again public funds) IIRC. I think the matter was dropped because he had taken early retirement?

  40. Gnomalarta
    Thumb Up

    Not Guilty

    Let's hope this result gets well and truly picked by the rest of the press!

  41. Dale Morgan

    some good news at last

    The justice system actually worked for a change, when will people like the BPI and government relise that Joe Bloggs knows alot more about the times we iive in

    dont the BPI relise that the people on a jury are the people their ripping off?

    it would be like a loan shark expecting to win in court because his victim with 2 broken legs refused to pay 300% interest

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hmf

      Wow - "The cops are the real crooks." So original. Takes a lot of thought to come up with that one. Why not name a name? The lack thereof, combined with such damning stuff as "IIRC" and "I think", are hardly worth much, are they? Silly Jacqui ...

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Pirate

    dumbass BPI

    [quote]The BPI said: "This is a hugely disappointing verdict which is out of line with decisions made in similar cases around the world, such as The Pirate Bay.[/quote]

    Similar cases around the world... WTF..... This is about British law, not the laws in other countries, what’s legal or not legal in other countries has no bearing on the law in this country..

    What were they expecting? Because of some farce of a trial in Sweden that a judgment would be made in their favour? Just because a single mother in the USA got a multi million fines imposed on them they should do the same here?

    yo ho, a pirates life for me !!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Coat

    Mandy

    Mandy will next have them tried in the secret court of Mandy.

    He finds them guilty as charged and then rushes back to the yacht party.

  44. Richard Porter
    Thumb Up

    Intelligence from the BPI?

    Surely an oxymoron.

  45. Oliver 7
    Go

    natural justice

    This is a great outcome. I suspect, as others note, that the BPI may try to take it further but I reckon he should try to take them to the cleaners first.

    Thing is this won't be given half the media coverage that the arrest was and any coverage will be pro-BPI rather than suggesting a reassessment of IP for the digital age.

    1. david wilson

      Cleaners?

      >>"the BPI may try to take it further but I reckon he should try to take them to the cleaners first."

      For what?

      Presumably it was the CPS that approved and ran the prosecution, the BPI would just have been providing evidence and asking for a prosecution to take place.

      Unless the BPI provided inaccurate factual information, it's hard to see how anyone could take action against them.

      As for his money, whether it's £20,000 or $300,000, if he gets it back, presumably the Revenue would be looking for their share?

  46. Remy Redert

    @Martin Nicholls

    Sweden is not the Netherlands.

    Mininova was tried here in the Netherlands, found guilty and told to remove all copyright infringing torrents.

    They had to switch to a different approach to torrent uploads, but they are still up.

    You'll note that Mininova was not fined, just ordered to remove all infringing files within 3 months.

    Not that I'm saying that was a good result, but at the trial was not a sham like the TPB trial.

  47. ForthIsNotDead
    FAIL

    You're all nutters

    By the same argument, I could start an 'invite only' web site, and solicit donations, for, say, oh, I dunno, a credit card number site.

    What would YOU then think of me if your bank account got raided? Would you say "Well, HE didn't actually steal *anything*, he's not responsible if criminals use the site to swap credit card numbers, so good on him"?

    I think not. When the boot is on the other foot, you'd all be screaming like pigs.

    Truth is, the record companies bank accounts, and the accounts of the artists they represent *were* raided, in the form of lost revenue.

    If you disagree with 'greedy' record companies and artists, fine, no problem with that. Just don't *buy* their products. Note, I said *buy*. Exercising your option not to buy does not give you the right to steal.

    Rant over!

    1. MonkeyBot
      FAIL

      A perfect analogy

      Even if you did stumble on to it by accident.

      If you're running a forum where people are posting stolen credit card numbers, you're hosting the 'illegal information' yourself which is why this case was different.

      "Truth is, the record companies bank accounts... ...*were* raided, in the form of lost revenue. ...Exercising your option not to buy does not give you the right to steal."

      If you decide not to buy it the company gets no money. If you then decide to download it, the company doesn't lose anything extra. The company isn't "losing" revenue because that revenue was never there in the first place.

      Nothing has been removed, so it's not stealing. It's copyright infringement.

    2. Igor Mozolevsky
      Pint

      What you need to realise...

      "If you disagree with 'greedy' record companies and artists, fine, no problem with that. Just don't *buy* their products. Note, I said *buy*. Exercising your option not to buy does not give you the right to steal."

      We, as a society have given the artists et al, a *privilege* of benefiting from their contribution to the society, be it in the form of songs, books, &c. This privilege is, however, being abused to the detriment of the society and for the benefit of not the actual contributors but a select group of selfish over-indulgent individuals who demonstratively fail to appreciate the extent of this privilege and seek to abuse said privilege in every imaginable way. One has to remember, that what is given can always be taken back, and what is commonly misreported as "illegal" (vs unlawful) downloading is the first step by the society as a whole in taking back this privilege.

      Incidentally, before some step in to call me a freetard, I own hundreds, if not thousands, of DVDs and hundreds of CDs... Although I only buy them when the asking price matched my perceived value of a particular film or a music CD. The fact that some people choose to obtain music, &c through whatever means at a zero cost to them, could only speak as to the value they place on that piece of creative art. And, if the true extent of copyright infringement is indeed as extensive as the recording & film industries claim, then *we*, as a society, have to ask ourselves one important question -- "who are our laws protecting?".

      Finally, I am completely amazed at the stupidity of the xPI (and similar cartels) in failing to recognise, what is according to them, a perfectly profitable model of music distribution, as this case demonstrates!

  48. g e
    Thumb Up

    A little fun for these investment-buggered times

    Please note the verdict of your lawsuit may be 'innocent' as well as 'guilty'

    Won't be long before Darth Mandy sews that little loophole up on the back of a luxury kickback.,

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hmm...

    I'd like to know the exact nature of the arguments presented in court, all that I really know about this case is that it was on conspiracy to defraud, and that the Police were given information relating to the case by the BPI. Now, as the Police can't mount a prosecution, this means that the CPS took the prosecution, unless you can have a privately funded criminal prosecution, which I'm not aware of.

    If it is therefore fairly safe to assume that the CPS were convinced that there was public interest in presenting this case and making it a conspiracy to defraud case, what were their arguments for and what were the defence's arguments against? I'm guessing for was "all this copyrighted material is being exchanged, facilitated by this guy's service and he is profiting from it" and against was "he just runs a search, the end users do the actual exchange of files, all the money is just for him to run the service."

  50. Armus Squelprom
    Thumb Up

    Excellent Result!

    Nobody could've complained if the BPI had sought an injunction or other civil means to protect their IP rights. But to send in a dawn raid by Police and prosecute an overblown criminal charge was clearly taking the piss. Well done to the jury for refusing to accept it.

    1. david wilson

      Of course

      >>"Nobody could've complained if the BPI had sought an injunction or other civil means to protect their IP rights"

      I'm sure you're right.

      If the BPI had just sued him for any meaningful amount of money (such as he was making from running the site, plus a little extra as a deterrent), I'm entirely confident that there wouldn't have been a whisper of complaint from anyone.

      After all, it's not as if anyone ever took issue with the BPI taking civil action in the past.

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Test Case

    I think the freetard community are being a little bit previous on this one. Around the web there are people cheering this outcome as proof that sharing copyright material is legal and that operating a site like oink is also legal.

    The mistake they are making is failing to understand how the law works. Sure he isn't guilty of conspiracy to defraud, but that was just a test case. You can bet the government and the CPS took a close look at the statute books and came to the conclusion that maybe the operators of such a site could be guilty of conspiracy to defraud. The only way to test this was, however, to take it to court. So it failed. So what? All our legislators will do now is pass a specific law making damned sure this sort of thing is illegal. No doubt they'll wrap it up in legalese but essentially it will boil down to "knowingly facilitating copyright infringement" or similar.

    1. david wilson

      Sounds quite possible.

      No doubt, the failure of a case *could* be argued as strong justification for changing the law, and therefore failure may be no bad thing for those people who want a change made.

      I'm still wondering about the site owner's general position regarding the money he made.

      If it was seized, does he get it back?

      Had he declared in the required timescale that he was running a business, filled in the appropriate tax returns, etc?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Joke

      Specific Law

      So if I open a revenue generating search engine that allows people to search the internet for anything (including torrents etc) and then supplying search results pointing to copyrighted material available for download would that be OK?

      How would these cases go do you think?

      Little guy, makes £200K with his little search engine - Knowingly faclilitating

      Big Search Business, Makes £billions, pays a bit of corporation tax - That's fine

      1. david wilson

        @AC 18/1/10 15:34

        A full-spectrum search engine has a hugely easier case arguing for some kind of common carrier status than some running a site which was enabling transactions of which a significant fraction were related to illicit content (anyone know what the relevant figures would be for Oink?)

        In the end it comes down to deciding what 'significant' means. There's an element of opinion there, but even if drawing a precise dividing line might not be easy, it probably wouldn't be too hard to get a fair consensus on what was definitely kosher and what was definitely dodgy, even if that left some grey area in the middle.

        I imagine what fraction of the income was related to the illicit side of the business might also play a part.

        It'd be a seriously bogus argument to suggest that the difference between a mainstream search engine and Oink was merely qualitative, and therefore nor *really* a difference at all.

        As a guy once said, quantity has a quality all its own.

        1. Tom Thomson
          Boffin

          @david wilson

          > It'd be a seriously bogus argument to suggest that the difference between a mainstream search engine and Oink was merely qualitative, and therefore nor *really* a difference at all.

          I suspect you are confusing "quantitive" and "qualitative". If there were a qualitative difference (the site spefically enabled search for downloadable material which is not legally downloadable, and not more general search capabilities) the site owner would have a real case to consider, whereas a "quantative" difference (more searches led to material which could be downloaded but not legally than led to perfectly legal content) clearly could relate to the way users used the site and so would not be the responsability of the site owner.

          I've no idea what the situation was in this particular case, but on past evidence I start with a presumption that the xPI are making outrageously unevidenced allegations. Maybe I'm wrong, but the jury apparently didn't think so and they heard the evidence that I didn't.

          1. david wilson

            @Tom Thomson

            Fair cop on the qualitative/quantitative miswriting, though it was still fairly clear what I was saying.

            There's a level of dodgy activity where a site owner/manager can't simply pretend they have no morally responsible for what's going on, especially if they're making very good money, a decent amount of which depends on the dodgy activity being allowed to carry on happening.

            >>"I've no idea what the situation was in this particular case, but on past evidence I start with a presumption that the xPI are making outrageously unevidenced allegations. Maybe I'm wrong, but the jury apparently didn't think so and they heard the evidence that I didn't."

            It's hard to see what the BPI could have alleged he was up to which would have pushed the CPS into prosecution, but which they didn't provide any actual evidence for.

            Seems entirely possible that the CPS were thinking (or at least hoping) they could get a conviction on the evidence they had, or just thinking that even a loss could still be a win, since it could be used as another justification for changing the rules, as an AC suggested earlier, and as is apparently already happening.

  52. lukewarmdog
    Badgers

    Radio

    I'm listening to the radio in work and I haven't paid and absolutely refuse to pay for some of the material they play. I demand some cartel stops it being streamed to me. I am also cheapening several artists by only listening to their music casually and with no concern for their lyrical or musical content. Since it's a shared office I'd like to postulate I'm sharing this music with other people with no regard for the financial model in place by the various music companies. Now if only I could persuade my colleagues to pay me say £50k a month for this service.

    You wouldn't download a car... er yes, yes I totally would.

    1. scottboy

      @lukewarmdiog

      You, er, have got a Performing Rights Society licence, haven't you? You don't want to mess with them.

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