OiNK Admin: Not Guilty

from the and-there-we-go dept

We were just explaining why it appeared that Alan Ellis, the admin for OiNK had not actually violated any UK laws, and it looks like the jury agreed. Ellis has been found not guilty. I have to admit that I’m really surprised by this, but it is certainly a good thing. You shouldn’t be found guilty of actions done by others, and if people were using OiNK to violate copyright law (as, certainly, some were) that shouldn’t fall on Ellis. Separately, as has been noted previously, OiNK really highlighted where the recording industry itself failed to fill the demand that was there.

Of course, it will be interesting to see what comes next. My guess is that the entertainment industry will use this to support Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill as necessary, or to push for even more draconian copyright laws, such as adding in “contributory” copyright infringement into the law in some manner. This was a good ruling, but it may be used to push through bad laws in response.

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Comments on “OiNK Admin: Not Guilty”

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24 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Conspiracy Theory

“My guess is that the entertainment industry will use this to support Mandelson’s Digital Economy Bill as necessary, or to push for even more draconian copyright laws, such as adding in “contributory” copyright infringement into the law in some manner.”

Any chance of collusion between the industry and court to get this ruling specifically for the reasons you stated?

Jake (user link) says:

I must admit that I have slightly mixed feelings about this. You cannot tell me that Ellis did not know from the very beginning that OiNK was going to make it very easy to break copyright law as it currently stands, even if copyright law as it currently stands ignores the fairly fundamental precedent of letting someone else borrow your tape and make a copy, which the recording industry weathered perfectly well.
On the other hand, I don’t see how Ellis could actually have prevented the service being used that way without a massive investment of man-hours and money, things he probably didn’t have in abundance. I dunno.

mike42 (profile) says:

Re: Re:

You’re right, Jake. And, it should be obvious that if someone borrows your car, it would be very easy for them to get in an accident or run down a pedestrian. Therefore, you should be held responsible should such an event happen. The same is true of people selling knives, guns, and toenail clippers. If you made it available, you are culpable for any and all legal infractions.

/sarcasm

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“You cannot tell me that Ellis did not know from the very beginning that OiNK was going to make it very easy to break copyright law”

I have a hard time believing that should matter. Auto makers know that their vehicles will make it easier to make bank robbery getaways. Gun makers know that their guns will make it easier for others to unlawfully kill others. There are measures to try and prevent that, but we all know it’s about as effective copyright filters (which is to say, not at all).

Jake (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

A closer analogy would be a car-rental concession manager handing over the keys to a paying customer despite said customer who appeared to be intoxicated; maybe the guy shouldn’t be open to a lawsuit if his customer did turn out to be drunk and ended up killing someone, but he sure as hell ought to feel guilty for taking the guy’s money even when he knew there was a risk.

Of course that analogy isn’t great either, because copyright infringement never got anyone killed or crippled for life. That’s why I can’t say I’m sorry Ellis didn’t go to jail, even if I don’t think much of a shrug and a “not my problem” as a defence.

Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m more curious if his servers will be returned now that he’s been found not guilty and they had no infringing information on them. From what I understand, they confiscated a lot of equipment.

I wasn’t a member (never heard about it until it got raided, kind of a Napster story I guess), but the site’s full return would be cool too.

Matt (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

On an unrelated note, I once helped a company that had records, computers, and other equipment seized in a raid by law enforcement. The company was never actually charged with anything. A few years later, after the statute of limitations on any potential charge had run, they asked for the return of everything that had been taken. They were told to pound sand, which led to ugly (and expensive) proceedings.

This was in the US, but I would have no confidence that everything will be promptly returned.

The Anti-Mike (profile) says:

At the end of the day, there may have been no law to find him guilty by. However, that is something that won’t hang out there for very long.

It is clear that he made hundreds of thousands of dollars off of charging for access to content he didn’t have the rights for. It is hard to make a modern crime match up to pre-digital laws. It is also very clear that this sort of thing cannot continue without in the long term causing a major disruption in the music world, and not the type of disruption that benefits anyone. The users are paying, the artists are making nothing, and some guy in the middle is walking away with the cash.

If you cannot see what is wrong with that, then your moral compass is probably stuck and needs fixing.

Ryan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“The users are paying, the artists are making nothing, and some guy in the middle is walking away with the cash.”

Just modifying your text with just one word (in caps) :

The users are paying, the artists are making ALMOST nothing, and some guy in the middle is walking away with the cash.

Describes the “music industry” perfectly.

Where was your moral compass lost for the last few decades?

/Ryan

Vivek.M says:

An outrageous decison!

They should have put away those scumbags for good! What’s happening to the world, when theft is justified because a large population indulges in it! Their argument that they only facilitate theft is ridiculous. If I sold information to bank robbers, that enabled them to thieve and kill people, I’d be carted away for murder or robbery just the same. In another 5 years with a recession in full boom, I wonder if the people who tolerate this rubbish will still find this ruling to be right and funny!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: An outrageous decison!

Be careful you don’t sell your car; someone may use to speed!
Be careful not to sell any knives, guns, sharp objects, or toxic cleaning supplies; someone may use them to hurt someone!
Be careful not to speak, your stupidity may be used to make our brains hurt.

And then you would be arrested and thrown in jail. Enjoy.

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