As you have read here already, a joint team of Dutch and British law enforcement were involved in ‘Operation Ark Royal’, to take down the music torrent site Oink. This action however, has brought lots of questions, with very few answers. Questions such as “Why Are The IFPI and BPI Allowed To Hijack OiNK?”
The British and Dutch Pirate Parties have issued a joint statementÂ (English/Dutch) condemning the actions as retaliatory, and questioning the ethics of choreographing it, and letting representatives of the victims participate in the investigation. How many times do they let the father of a murder victim work on the investigation of the Murder?
They also condemn the police forces for allowing the presumption of innocence to be discarded, in that the domain of the website, has been effectively hijacked, and replaced by a page insinuating guilt on the part of the site owner. The ‘Presumption of Innocence’, better known as “innocent until proven guilty” is a cornerstone of law both in theÂ Netherlands and UK. Surely, if anyone should have put a temporary website under the Oink domain, then it should have been the Cleveland police, or the Dutch police, not the record label owners union.
This violation of what should be standard practices brings into question the ethics and procedures of the forces involved. Cleveland police have yet to respond to inquiries, however.
Of further interest is the apparent investigation on the Dutch side by the Investigation Service of the Tax and Customs Administration (or FIOD-ECD for short). This would appear to be in relation to the claimed monies that were paid by users for access to the site, which are known to us here at TorrentFreak as “voluntary donations”, but then we do our homework. The question does come to be how these criminal investigation groups manage to execute these raids, without first having done any investigation; undoubtedly heads will roll.
Timing is another interesting aspect to this case. Reportedly, the IFPI are upset that the Pirate Bay has acquired ifpi.com. However, it’s a domain they’ve not had control of (at least according to archive.org) since early this year at the latest, and so it’s hard to see how they will be able to have anything done about it, legally. Could this raid then be a retaliatory action on their part, targeting another site rather than the Pirate Bay, who are/were probably expecting some sort of backlash like this?
Whilst claims in the various press releases (BPI, IFPI, Cleveland police) all state that the site was notorious for pre-release music, it’s also relevant to consider the source of that music. According to a 2003 study by AT+TÂ labs into the movie industry, the majority of early releases came from insiders, and its unlikely that the music industry is any different. Indeed, according to ‘apathy’, a moderator at music site Economy of Sound, several pre-releases have come from the record companies direct, where they have had the view that “you just cannot buy that kind of publicity.” Claims that pre-releases hurt sales are also not found to be based in fact, the Meshuggah album “Nothing” was leaked onto the internet, and became their best-seller.
However, perhaps the biggest thing to remember is that private sites store information. Thats how they work, and there is always some saved, in order to run ratios etc. In the end, we’re right back to the question, “Are Private Torrent Sites Safe” and it would appear that they are becoming less so as time goes on, irrespective of the law.