This week, many thousands of warning letters will be received by people in the UK accused of sharing files. Each recipient will get the smallest possible slap on the wrist. Yet today another police bail deadline will come and go for six people accused of doing exactly the same on OiNK. Don’t they deserve letters too?
Today, Alan Ellis, the owner of OiNK, will have his bail extended for an amazing fifth time.
Cleveland police, having originally stated that the charges against Alan would be revealed December 2007, extended the bail for another for two months, only to extend it again until May and then again until the end of June.
When they still weren’t ready to charge anyone by this date, they extended bail again until July 28th 2008. However, today, the police have extended the date again for Alan, and the other six arrested in connection with the case.
The six who were arrested, five men aged between 19 and 33, and a 28-year-old woman, were done so on suspicion of “Conspiracy to Defraud the Music Industry”, and other copyright offenses.
Repeated in the mainstream press such as the BBC, these allegations of serious fraud take on a really sinister tone, but the reality is somewhat different. At most these individuals did what an estimated 6 million others do in the UK on a regular basis – they simply shared files. None of the six are accused of anything more than offenses linked to the uploading of a single album each, yet today they will report again to the police, their lives on hold.
Elsewhere today in the UK, will be the characteristic sound of letters dropping through the front door onto the mat. Some people will be getting bills, others direct mail and junk. Some will be getting well wishes on a happy occasion. Others will be opening an unexpected letter from their ISP which claims they have been caught uploading music by the BPI, that they’ve been very naughty and shouldn’t do it again.
After long negotiations between the music industry and ISPs, along with a considerable amount of government ‘encouragement‘, sending out educational letters was considered a proportionate response to the ‘problem’ of file-sharing. Even the disconnection of uploaders was considered draconian, and there is certainly no suggestion of police involvement.
Shouldn’t the six OiNK uploaders be getting a “friendly” letter and a slap on the wrist too?