It’s been a quite a long journey, but today, six people appeared in Magistrates Court, charged with offenses relating to their alleged activities on the now-defunct OiNK BitTorrent tracker.
During October 2007, Operation Ark Royal achieved its aims. OiNK was shut down in a joint effort by Dutch and British law enforcement, followed by a number of arrests carried out by Cleveland police over the next few months. Site administrator Alan Ellis was eventually charged with Conspiracy to Defraud, while five other users who uploaded just a single album each were charged with Copyright Infringement. One of them earlier told TorrentFreak “I think it’s a sledgehammer to crack a walnut.”
This morning at 09:45 they appeared before Teeside magistrates. The case of Alan Ellis was, as expected, passed on to the Crown Court. Interestingly, one of the five uploaders has to appear at the Crown Court as well, while the other four will reappear before Magistrates Court. These next hearings are set at October 2nd. [updated, 4pm GMT]
In any event, those accused will be confronted with evidence gathered by Cleveland police, who have found themselves surrounded in their own copyright controversy. A little while ago we reported on the reluctance of certain police forces in the UK to buy an appropriate license from the music industry to allow them to listen to radios or other music on their premises. Put bluntly, this means that police forces in the UK without a license, are themselves copyright infringers. At the time we joked that it would be highly inappropriate for Cleveland police to get involved. Seems like it’s too late.
According to GazetteLive, Cleveland police have not bought a license from the Performing Rights Society (PRS). So, while they continue to play music on their premises, they are actually breaking the law.
Deputy Chief Constable Derek Bonnard, sounding very much like he doesn’t want to pay said: “We continue to assess the position and are seeking advice to determine if we are required by law to spend a significant amount of public money, which we consider is better committed to crime fighting, than in this way.”
Hear, hear Mr Bonnard, I agree with you completely. Hopefully the magistrates in Teeside today consider the amount of money spent bringing the OiNK six to court, and come to the conclusion that in this case too, public money is better spent elsewhere, rather than on the interests of the music industry.