back to article OiNK BitTorrent admin faces fraud prosecution

Cleveland police have charged Alan Ellis, the former administrator of the defunct BitTorrent tracker site, with conspiracy to defraud the record industry. Ellis, a 25-year-old IT worker, will face magistrates at a committal hearing on 24 September, a police spokeswoman said today. Five individuals who were arrested in …


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  1. Pat
    Thumb Up

    Uploaders. Thanks for the clarity.

    At last an article that doesn't confound downloaders with uploaders.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    serves him right

    for being an elitist snob frankly.

    support the scene and the scene supports you.

  3. Frostbite


    Pigs :p

  4. James Summerson


    "conspiracy to defraud the record industry"

    Is there such a crime on the statue books? If so, then a huge proportion of the UK population should also be in the dock - remember the 'home taping is killing the record industry' bollox?

    And doesn't to defraud mean to deprive someone *of* something? Ah, never mind, this will be driven through by mass hysteria and wilful obfuscation in court, no doubt.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    RE: Uploaders. Thanks for the clarity.

    In what way is that clarity? Using bittorrent as you download you are also uploading chunks. An uploader could also be deemed the person that originally posted the torrent reference file on the Oink site which then allowed others to connect to that file originator.

    It is simply as clear as mud, with modern file sharing methods, as a downloader you are also an uploader, and to be fair you should also be punished by the scope of UK law on that front. Whether people like it or not in reality we shouldn't all be downloading random things for free - although you could easily argue it is the fault of the associated businesses for not keeping up with the times and quickly providing modern alternatives to bittorrent.

    Wouldn't like to end up as China now would we? Rife copyright infringement, hence a ridiculously substandard market in many areas.

  6. Steve Evans


    It's a hard definition to make, even for the technically minded, let alone a judge.

    With Bittorrent, once you have one block of the file you are downloading, you will then be an uploader of that block to other people. The more blocks you get, the more of the file you will be uploading to others. You'll be uploading complete blocks to others within a few minute of starting to download something.

    Once you have the whole file, you become a seed. The only difference between you as a seed, and you as a peer earlier is a seed has the complete file, so you're uploading only.

    Who the original seed was isn't important, to all intents and purposes it could be you. You're now offering the entire file for sharing.

    So unless you sit on your PC waiting, and remove it from your bit torrent client the moment it completes, you will become a seed as soon as the download finishes.

  7. Owen Carter
    Black Helicopters


    Interesting, How has he defrauded the Media industry exactly?

    For this to be fraud surely he would have had to obtain money from them (or others) by offering a service or goods which were not delivered.. If the Media industry has no contract or supplier relationship with him, how can he defraud them? Seems to me that the only people he could have defrauded are the OiNK members.

    Maybe he will be charged with supplying 'fake' copyright infringing goods? Or deceiving members into thinking they were getting multimedia files when in fact delivering no such thing (random data?) Will there be a big queue of OiNK member lining up to tell the court how he promised to supply illegal downloads and pre-releases to them, but did not deliver..

    Or maybe this is a deliberate 'wrong' charge in order to let him get away and therefore justify even more draconian copyright laws.

    Also; since the media biz. is almost exclusively based in the US why was he not 'Gary'd' and fast tracked to the US to face charges there? Surely the US courts with the DMCA etc.. to call upon would be the venue of choice for such a mastercriminal?

  8. chris

    @AC 9:54

    You're a Cock.

    Oink was the best-designed and most efficient source on the web for music. Better quality and more range than the commercial services. What's this "scene" you talk of? Backscratching egomaniacs torn between "look at me" and "i'm a 133t secret ninja ftw".

    Oink by contrast was about MUSIC. All the range, all the quality. In a sane world the admin would get medals not handcuffs and artists would work out how to get paid from this efficient and effective distribution system.

    &Pat: Aren't all downloaders in a bitorrent network also uploaders? Certainly can't see how you could maintain a decent ratio on Oink without also uploading something unique...

  9. Anonymous Coward

    "hundreds of thousands of pounds" My Arse

    if he was getting that much from it, im pretty sure he would get a decent legal team and blow the technophobe pigs, no pun intended, into next week with how torrents are just like links, proof of server running costs and the fact that the donation OPTION, was exactly that, a "donation option"

  10. Anonymous Coward

    Ah there they are...

    The smug, sanctimonious trolls are already out of their dirty little pits and it's only lunchtime!

    It seems they have finally managed to find a charge that more or less equates to "encouraging copyright infringement", sorry little tale but those fat cats want someone to crucify and the torrenters want a martyr!

    I still use torrents, I upload and download and I know the risks involved. I am one of millions who do, my number could come up at any second and I'd be in the wotnot. Like any gamble in life you pays your money and takes your choice. if it pays off, great, if it fails...

  11. Tommy Pock

    It's grim up north

    If OiNK was such a lucrative venture, why was the site owner living in Middlesbrough?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    How did he make money????


    £100,000 ?


    They did not charge for using it and did not have adverts.


    I was a member and never paid for anything!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Considering how big the Oink network was

    It seems that either Oink done a fantastic job of protecting their users........................................or Plod couldn't be bothered chasing all the freetards. Whichever the reason good news for the 100,000+ users.

    If only the Government could protect our personal details so diligently. No flash drives going missing here! One year they have been investigating this and fraud is all they have..

    I would imagine that the 5 other people being prosecuted would be called 'runners' (in the scene), but the term runner would probably confuse the court so they are just calling them uploaders.

    Thumbs up for protecting their customers security. Hope the Government is watching how it should be done.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Illegal once more

    The Digital Mafia (RIAA/MPAA and local UK Branch) have lost nothing, as nothing have been stealed!!! If that site was making as much money as the (corrupted) court said... then it is only one more proof that music can make money on the internet and this WHITOUT sueing and bankrupting whole family and whitout the users having to paid a cent (the radio seem to have understand that)

  15. milan

    Looking forward to them proving

    that he had the intention to permanently deprive the Record industry of anything.

    For the pedants..there are leech only clients out there

  16. Pat

    upload download

    Yes, BitTorrent confounds downloading with uploading, but there's no need for tech journalists to do so. That was the point I was making (poorly it seems).

    Ever since P2P took off, default settings on apps like Napster, Kazaa and now BtTorrent make a downloader into an uploader. I've always felt it a bit unfair to go after the users who in most cases may only have intended to download (naughty, maybe illegal, but not so far tested in court and damages would not be high) but found themselves also uploading without their knowledge (more naughty, open to untestable claims they distributed zillions of copies, and therefore considerble damages). Isn't it a bit like the difference between driving over someone out of malice compared with doing so out of falling asleep?

  17. Ryan Barrett

    Did the record execs get jail time?

    When they were found guilty of defrauding the public through price fixing?

    Did the owners (shareholders) get jailed?


    Then something's very wrong here.

  18. Spider

    Cleveland Police. Pride of the country

    The home of Ray Mallon. Shows what their priorities are.

    If you want a laugh

  19. jai

    yes, but what about the comic?

    so was it named after the fantastically brilliant kids comic OiNK from the 80s? and am i the only one who remembers it fondly?

    i was clearing out a cupboard only a fortnight ago and discovered that i've still got virtually every issue and the annuals in a ring binder. I should get around to scanning them in and creating a tribute website or something

  20. kain preacher


    I thought this was just a Civil matter . When did it become criminal?? I'm not saying copyright infringement is right , but how did this become criminal ??

    How the hell can they charge him with fraud ??

  21. Gilbert Wham

    @ How can they charge him with fraud?

    Because the plod *have* to charge him with something criminal to justify their involvement. It doesn't need to stick, necessarily. I'm sure he'll be well fucked over by the labels in civil court if they get the chance.

  22. Trevor

    Hang on...

    What I dont understand is that, if I seed, along with thousands of others then I am not sending the entire file, just a random string of bits that put together with other random strings of bits, happens to make a film or an mp3 or whatever.

    Unless they can prove that I was seeding an entire film (or whatever), and someone recieved a full film(or whatever) from me, all I would say is that I was sending a stream of random bits to many people. How those many people use those bits is up to them.

  23. Tommy Pock


    Fraud would imply that the music industry were deprived of revenue - this is undoubtedly not the case. Most of the activity between the site's users is down to the impossibility of getting the content they were sharing from any other means. Did it affect CD sales? No, it encouraged them. Did it affect legitimate paid-for MP3 downloads? No, because there weren't any.

  24. Andy Bright

    I'm about 90% certain

    That by uploaders they mean those that supplied the original content for the paid-up members to download.

    It may well be that downloaders are also uploaders using torrent software, but they are usually considered downloaders unless they are supplying new and original content themselves.

    Uploading therefore is deemed to be the worse 'crime' by the record industry, because you're adding to the problem rather than simply benefiting from it.

    I'm not siding with them on this, just pointing out the way they look at it and the way it'll be presented in court.

    In this case it is 100% accurate to label the original suppliers of the content as uploaders if they uploaded the original media files to the website.

    If it wasn't for these people, no one else would be downloading or uploading from this network because there would be no data to do either.

    Defrauding the music industry is a crime. Defrauding anyone is a crime. Fraud is the practice of taking money from someone using deceitful methods. Thus you can be charged with fraud for deliberately filling out a tax form with false information that would give you a rebate or filling out a loan application with false information that overstates your ability to pay.

    The way they probably intend to play this is the accused received a financial benefit from the record industry by stealing their intellectual property. It sounds like the media files on this network were more than simply copies of CDs, but rather material that originated from the record labels themselves (pre-releases for example).

    I still reckon this is theft not fraud, but whatever, proper use of terminology is not what convicts people of crimes. It's making the judge and jury THINK you're using the legal or technical terminology correctly. Unless the defense can prove otherwise you don't stand a chance (yes a classic case of guilty until proven innocent - all to common these days sadly).

    Again I'm not siding with either party here. I'm just trying to explain how the prosecutors probably intend to play this out.

  25. Nick
    Paris Hilton

    The other 10%...

    "In this case it is 100% accurate to label the original suppliers of the content as uploaders if they uploaded the original media files to the website."

    In that case your conclusion is 0% accurate.

    They did not upload any copyrighted media files to the website, just a small torrent file.

    Paris, cos her media files uploads are 100% accurate.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The way the UK works is for the police to make up an offence

    Then pressure the victim into pleading guilty.

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Disgraceful et al

    "And doesn't to defraud mean to deprive someone *of* something?"

    It is a well established legal premise that downloading for free deprives the record industry of revenue. Even the most abject Freetard accepts that this is a point of law and fact. By extension loss of revenue to record companies is loss of taxation revenue to the government so they will pursue this.

    You may not agree with the law, but that does not make it less of an offense.

  28. Andy Bright


    Er no. You're confusing this with your every day torrent site that simply links to identical media on a million different pcs. This was very different, and the people charged with fraud weren't simply copying Britney Spears CDs.

    They were supplying high quality recordings and hard to find pre-release media files. They were not simply supplying torrents that linked their paid customers to music that pre-existed on regular torrent networks.

    Eventually their own customers helped with the distribution, because that's how torrents work. But the original files were supplied by people that had access to data that probably came from the record industry's own servers. And those were the people charged with fraud. I find it extremely unlikely they decided the best method of delivery was simply to create a torrent linking to data on those servers. Not if they had any plans on not being caught.

  29. Nick


    Er, no.

    Fact is, no one, not even these heinous "uploaders", uploaded any media files to the Oink website. They uploaded a small torrent file containing checksums. All transfers of media files go directly from one user's computer to another user's computer.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    How much has this fiasco cost the taxpayer so far?

    Lets hope some investigative journalist submits a Freedom Of Information request to find out exactly how much of our tax revenue is being frittered away.

    Hey look! A flying pig!

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Free bittorrent advertising

    Fortunately the media circus surrounding this case should help educate more of the public about the benefits of using torrents.

    No such thing as bad publicity.

  32. michael


    ""It is a well established legal premise that downloading for free deprives the record industry of revenue. Even the most abject Freetard accepts that this is a point of law and fact. By extension loss of revenue to record companies is loss of taxation revenue to the government so they will pursue this.""

    I know a lot of freetards and most of them do not acept this point in fact most of there arguments revolve around the fact that a download <> a loss of sale most downloads are "for seeing of I might like it" or "I like it bout nowhere enought to pay the £20 they want for it" or "I want it but I can not get it anywhere else" or even "I own it but the orignal meida it damaged or wrong format or lost"

  33. Anonymous Coward

    My Tax?

    I just have to ask, you see, since i paid for this inquiry through Taxes and having some knowledge of Cleveland.......

    Is this really the most important crime going on in Teesside at the moment? Were the million plus £ spent on this really more important than reducing the burglaries, the car crime, the street robberies, the anti social behavior, the domestic violence or even the drink driving that blytes every large urban conurbation in the UK with Teesside being no exception to that rule.

    Cleveland Police, like all Police Forces already struggle to even dent all the above, but yet the find enough spare cash, in the Millions to fund such a large and disproportionate expensive inquiry when compared to actual crime which is still arguably a civil offence and not a criminal matter that should involve the Police.

    I realise that most of the UK readership do not live in Teesside and the £1 and change proportion of their Council Tax that the Police get will not have been spent on this but their larger taxes,in the form of Government central funding will have.

    Furthermore what exactly was the role of the Federation Against Copyrights Theft (FACT) role in all this? Why was their involvement trumpeted as a multi agency private public partnership now not even mentioned? Could it be, as suggested, that an ambitious but largely ignorant senior Officer looking for a national, even international headline grabbing investigation believed everything he was told by FACT, swallowed it hook line and sinker and only realised the truth when it was too late? Are these charges nothing but a face saving exercise, a ridiculous test case aimed at preventing embarrassment rather than forging new legal ground?

    I always had trouble believing the "Hundreds of Thousands of Pounds" line, this just looked like a private tracker with limited membership similar in every way to the dozens shut down, quite legally and properly through the civil courts in every other sane country. Everything ever said in Public Statements by the Cleveland Police smelled wrong, smelled of ignorance and Industry Rhetoric probably provided chapter and verse by these FACT advisors.

    Regardless of all the above, i find it hard to see how the Cleveland Police can justify spending their limited budget on a investigation that really only serves to, arguably, protect the profit margin of foreign companies who themselves are under investigation for anti trust sharp & Spanish practices dating back decades.

    One of the grounds for deciding on whether a charge should be leveled against a suspect is that is the matter "Is in the publics interest?". I find it hard to believe that this is, given all the rest of the issues facing society today, its not exactly keeping the streets safe or combating white collar crime now is it? Police budgets after all are quite simple, spend money / resources here and you cant spend it elsewhere, therefore you can be certain that somewhere in Teesside some old dears are getting their life savings screwed because the resources aren't available anymore to prevent or detect the shits who are bang at it.

    Frankly this stinks of career ambition driven hubris.

    Please note this is not a Freetard defence piece, i don't really care about them, their impact has not harmed the creation of new media as far as i can tell because i can still buy new media. Should this change and they do actually damage the industry then ill start to care and start to want them crushed. However like most other paytards i realise that this is unlikely, it hasn't happened yet and it probably wont, so i don't care what they get up to listen to music a week earlier than me.

    Also please note any of you militant paytards who object to uncaring paytards like me who trot out that old classic that the freetards drive up prices. Well you can stuff that up your militancy becuase like every other paytard in Rip Off Britain my wallet gets raped more by the anti trust and cartlesim of the Industry than it ever could because of a bunch of freetards who cant afford to buy the stuff in the first place.

    Freetards, i just dont care what you do and neither do the majority of paytards.

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