January this year Alan Ellis, the administrator of the OiNK BitTorrent tracker, had his name cleared as a jury unanimously decided that he was not guilty of Conspiracy to Defraud the music industry.
“Operation Ark Royal”, as the investigation into OiNK was named, also resulted in the arrests of five users of the BitTorrent tracker.
Previously, four users pleaded guilty to uploading music torrents. The four were charged with copyright infringement and sentenced to fines and community service, rather than the custodial sentences the prosecution had been pushing for.
This week the last OiNK case came to an end, as the remaining uploader Matthew Wyatt saw his case dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
Unlike earlier press releases from the music industry alleged, Wyatt was not the original source of the music files he made available. The prosecution had further difficulties providing evidence and never actually proved that the files Wyatt linked to were actually copyrighted.
Wyatt’s lawyer David Cook said that the music industry pushed for a criminal instead of a civil case just to set an example, which failed miserably. The Prosecution Service was acting as a proxy for the music industry and in doing so it failed to come up with solid evidence.
“Government ministers have categorically stated they do not want to see teenagers arrested in their bedrooms for file-sharing. This case makes clear such assurances are hollow. This prosecution was not only incompetently handled, it has never been in the public interest and the CPS was forced to admit that,” Cook commented.
A week from now the UK Government is expected to rush the new anti-piracy bill through Parliament, in part thanks to an aggressive lobby from the same music industry groups that pushed OiNK over. Critics of the bill are planning to run ads to convince MPs not to accept it and have already raised over £10,000 in just three hours.
If anything, the outcome of the OiNK investigation which cost tax payers hundreds of thousands of pounds should motivate legislators to think twice before they accept the Bill.