After waiting for more than two years to clear his name, less than a week ago the trial of Alan Ellis, the ex-admin of the OiNK BitTorrent tracker, came to an end.
The jury at Teesside Crown Court took just a couple of hours to return a unanimous verdict of “Not Guilty” – Ellis walked away a free man.
Ellis kept a low profile as he left court, refusing to comment to waiting reporters. The recording industry, fronted by the BPI, didn’t hide their feelings.
“This is a hugely disappointing verdict which is out of line with decisions made in similar cases around the world,” the group said in a statement.
“The defendant made nearly £200,000 by exploiting other people’s work without permission. The case shows that artists and music companies need better protection.”
Behind the scenes, some observers felt that while this defeat for the music industry was welcome, there were still concerns that things wouldn’t end with Ellis’s acquittal. And they appear to have been right.
Speaking at a press conference to launch the annual Digital Music Report, IFPI spokesman John Kennedy said that the ‘not guilty’ verdict was not the end of the road. The recording industry would “find other ways” to punish Ellis, and is now seriously considering taking action against him through the civil courts.
Kennedy said there is a commitment by the industry to retrieve the money the users of OiNK donated to the site, and give it to the artists whose music was shared there.
He also attacked the decision to charge Ellis with fraud instead of copyright infringement, and criticized UK legislation for being out of date.
Ellis confirmed earlier that his acquittal did not mean that OiNK was set for a revival. “Absolutely not,” he said, while adding that he would just like to get on with his life now.
It seems that IFPI have other plans.