Alan Ellis, an IT consultant, set up the site over three years ago and when it was shut down it had 180,000 registered users who were able to download music via Bittorrent. The site was renowned for releasing albums ahead of the release date, which aroused the ire of the recording industry.
"Pre-release leaks are one of the most damaging forms of internet piracy that is currently eroding legitimate sales of music across the world," said the British Phonographic Industry.
"Recorded music sales fell by more than a third internationally in the last six years, and independent studies show that a major factor in this decline has been internet users accessing peer-to-peer networks to steal music online."
The site was shut down after an investigation by Interpol, with the site's server in Amsterdam being raided by police at the same time as Ellis was arrested. Ellis is protesting his innocence, saying he has done nothing wrong.
"When I set up the site I didn’t think I was doing anything illegal and I still don’t," he told the Daily Telegraph.
"I don’t sell music to people, I just direct them to it. If somebody wants to illegally download music they are going to do it whether my site is there or not. If this goes to court it is going to set a huge precedent. It will change the internet as we know it."
"As far as I am aware no-one in Britain has ever been taken to court for running a website like mine. My site is no different to something like Google. If Google directed someone to a site they can illegally download music from they are doing the same as I have been accused of."
Police are now analysing the site's records to see who was downloading material and haven't confirmed if they will be taking further action. Visitors to the site now get the following message:
"This site has been closed as a result of a criminal investigation by IFPI, BPI, Cleveland Police and the Fiscal Investigation Unit of the Dutch Police into suspected illegal music distribution. A criminal investigation continues into the identities and activities of the site’s users."
Police make Oink founder squeal
By Iain Thomson on Oct 26, 2007 7:32AM