The trial of OiNK administrator Alan Ellis is underway. Yesterday the jury was picked and today it was revealed that Ellis had gathered $300,000 in several Paypal accounts over the years, allegedly gleaned from site donations. The jury of twelve has been warned not to do any independent research on the Internet.
Yesterday, the OiNK trial continued with the selection of a jury consisting of 10 men and two women. Beforehand they were all asked whether they were familiar with the OiNK BitTorrent tracker, if they held any special interest in protecting copyright holders or had any connections with anti-piracy groups.
The jurors were further warned by Judge Briggs not to Google for OiNK or do any other form of research on the Internet. This might be a good suggestion, as many of the mainstream press reports thus far have been littered with inaccuracies.
Even the BBC report the site was free to join, but in the very next sentence say it cost £5. In another article they report it cost $5.
“It would be most unfortunate if any of you did any private research on the internet relating to this matter. Please don’t,” said Briggs. “It’s only likely to cause difficulties and could in theory abort the trial. So, ladies and gentlemen, no independent research.”
Judge Briggs told the jurors that the defendant, OiNK admin Alan Ellis, is charged with an offence of conspiracy to defraud.
“Put very simply it is suggested he was involved in a website that was used to distribute sound recordings and things of that nature in breach of copyright,” he said.
Ellis denies the charge that he “conspired with others unknown” to defraud the music industry.
Today the trial continued and the jury was told by the prosecution that the OiNK tracker facilitated 21 million downloads. Ellis, who accepted donations from members, had gathered almost $300,000 (£190,000) in several PayPal accounts over the years, money that allegedly came from donations.
“Every penny was going to Mr Ellis,” said Peter Makepeace, prosecuting. “He hadn’t sung a note, he hadn’t played an instrument, he hadn’t produced anything. The money was not going to the people it rightly belonged to, it was going to Mr Ellis.”
The prosecution failed to mention that the money was used by Ellis to pay for the servers and hosting, which probably cost him several thousand dollars a month.
The court was further told how OiNK did not host or distribute any music itself, but instead indexed files shared by its users for others to download.
When responding to a description of how BitTorrent works, that leechers share what they download with other peers, thus speeding up downloads, Mr Makepeace commented: “That is the beauty of the Oink website. It never had to upload any music itself, all it did was provide the facility of linking one person to another who wanted that music.”
After his arrest, the prosecution said that Ellis told officers: “All I do is really like Google, to really provide a connection between people. None of the music is on my website.”
The case continues.