After receiving information that British police had started to arrest ex-users of OiNK in the on-going ‘Operation Ark Royal’, we published an article on Friday. We had been sitting on this story while we negotiated with our sources to be able to include as much information as possible, without compromising their situation. We are now in a position to offer more information.
It seems the music industry’s desire to paint OiNK as a criminal network focused on the ruination of the music business, has so far led them to direct the police into arresting users who allegedly pre-released albums, i.e shared albums before their stated retail release date. As mentioned in our previous article, there are no laws in the UK which give extra gravity to pre-release cases, but the music industry seems keen to portray this type of copyright infringement as being much more serious. It has been their theme since the day of the original raid and shutdown of OiNK.
Many observers have been questioning for some time now why the police are involved in this case when it’s believed users of the site committed only civilly actionable offenses at best. It’s clear that simple copyright infringement isn’t what the music industry has in mind.
Those accused were visited by detectives involved with ‘Operation Ark Royal’, sometimes accompanied by local police. After identification, they were arrested under suspicion of “Conspiracy to Defraud the Music Industry”, told that they were not alone and that police would be arresting and interviewing more people in connection with the case. Suspects were then taken to their local police station for questioning and required to provide DNA samples and fingerprinting.
During their interview the suspects were asked all about OiNK, their understanding of the purpose of the site and what they did as a user there. The police were also keen to discover if these alleged pre-releasers personally knew OiNK admin, Alan Ellis, which of course – like the majority of OiNK members – they didn’t.
The police have been asking the suspects for their account details on OiNK. The police are in possession of user account names and email addresses registered on the site, but were keen for the suspects to provide their passwords, adding weight to the belief that user’s passwords were successfully encrypted with a salted MD5 hash.
Suspects were then released on bail while the police went to make further enquiries. It is believed that those arrested will have to appear at a designated police station on the same day that Alan Ellis is to answer his bail, July 1st 2008. So far, Cleveland Police haven’t responded to our request for information.
A really nice gesture has been made by the team of solicitors working on behalf of OiNK administrator Alan Ellis. They have offered free legal support to certain arrested individuals.