BitTorrent sharers may have gained an edge Friday, as Oink founder Alan Ellis, charged with conspiracy to defraud, now finds himself home free (via Prefix and BBC News). Ellis, who operated the site out of his English flat from 2004-2007, was found not guilty in his British court case.
Ellis is the first person to have been prosecuted for illegal file-sharing in the U.K., making his a landmark win for users of BitTorrent sites. Ellis, a software engineer, argued that he created the site not to encourage breaking the law but “to further [his] skills” and “to better [his] skills for employability.” Also, Oink did not host any music, legal or otherwise; it did, however, provide an easy platform for people to share files. Ellis argued in court that he did not intend to infringe on copyrights, although Ellis may have had an easier time convincing the Teesside Crown Court than Shawn Fanning had with the Supreme Court.
According to BBC News, the invitation-only site was used for 21 million music files and attracted around 200,000 users. People also shared other files on the site, such as computer software and ebooks. Police found $300,000 in Ellis’ Paypal account, an account used to receive donations from users.
This news comes days after reports that the big four labels filed a petition to Stockholm District Court to fine The Pirate Bay founders Fredrik Neij and Gottfrid Svartholm Warg $71,000 for not shutting down the site when ordered to do so.