Last fall, authorities in the UK shut down OiNK
, a private file sharing community, complete with plenty of hyperbole over what was going on. In discussing how silly this was, we pointed out that it seemed like the only real charge here was "felony interference of a business model."
We meant it as a joke (interfering with a business model isn't a crime -- it's called competition, normally). However, it looks like UK authorities are taking it seriously. They're going around arresting users of the site and charging them with "Conspiracy to Defraud the Music Industry."
Most specifically, those who uploaded albums before they were released are being hauled off -- even though the UK doesn't treat pre-release infringement any differently than post-release infringement. Other countries do have such laws, and the entertainment industry has long pushed for "pre-release" leaks as being considered criminal, rather than civil, offenses. But without such a law in place, it does seem a bit extreme to claim that anyone uploading a pre-release album is guilty of "conspiracy to defraud the music industry." There was no conspiracy to defraud -- there was just people who want to listen to music and share it with others. No one seems to be able to explain how this is actually a criminal issue at all, rather than a civil issue. In the meantime, we're waiting to see if the police try to arrest Trent Reznor
of Nine Inch Nails, who has proudly stated that he was an OiNK member who supported the site.