After a very long wait of more than two years, last week the OiNK trial got underway with the prosecution making their case against Alan Ellis. This week it was the turn of the defense and yesterday both sides had the opportunity to summarize their positions by submitting their closing arguments to the jury at Teesside Crown Court.
Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, naturally painted an extremely negative picture, labeling the Pink Palace as a place designed from the ground up as a personal money-making machine for Ellis.
“21 million downloads. 600,000-plus albums. £300,000. This was a cash cow, it was perfectly designed to profit him and it was as dishonest as the day is long,” said Makepeace.
It is common sense to come to the conclusion that Oink was dishonest, claimed the prosecution lawyer, adding that Ellis knows that it’s dishonest “to promote, encourage and facilitate criminal activity,” and accusing him of telling the jury “persistent, cunning, calculated lies.”
It would, of course, be dishonest to promote “criminal activity”, but Mr Makepeace should be very well aware that the activity engaged in by OiNK’s users is covered under civil law.
Switching momentarily from criticism to praise and then back again, Makepeace said that the OiNK website was a “wonderful machine” for sharing music but noted that while the site had a really good brand name, it was a brand synonymous with “ripping off music.”
University of London professor Birgitte Andersenok gave evidence earlier in the trial, stating that file-sharing didn’t hurt the music industry and led to more sales. Mr Makepeace trashed her evidence.
“It’s nonsense, it’s flannel, it’s verbiage, it’s garbage,” he told the Court.
For the defense, Alex Stein said that Ellis had never knowingly acted dishonestly and that in 2004 when OiNK was launched, it was a “brave new world” on the Internet.
“In many societies he’d be an innovator, a creator, a Richard Branson. His talent would be moulded, not crushed by some sort of media organization,” he said.
The media organization being referred to by Stein was the IFPI, who he said had never requested that OiNK be shut down, and had instead “sat and watched.”
Gazette Live reports that Stein went on to launch a scathing attack on the IFPI.
“They used this site. Their own members used this site to promote their own music and now they’re crushing him. Maybe he grew too big for them, maybe they’ve taken a different marketing approach. I don’t know. But it was decided that this site should be taken down.
“All of us here are being manipulated to some sort of marketing strategy by the IFPI. If anybody’s acting dishonestly it’s them,” he said.
At the end of the two week trial the jury returned a unanimous verdict (12 to 0). Alan Ellis is not guilty of Conspiracy to Defraud the music industry. He walked out of Teesside Crown Court a free man today, his name cleared.
The verdict cannot be appealed and Ellis can finally put the past behind him and move on.