The OiNK trial has been underway for more than a week now. Although there is virtually no press covering the daily proceedings, it is very clear that there is an immense gap between how the music industry portrays Ellis, and how he sees the role he played on the OiNK website.
From the very beginning, the music industry has pictured the site’s founder as someone who charges users for access to the site, claiming that it was set up to make profits from infringing on the rights of the major record labels.
Its users were criminals who conspired to steal from the music industry for reasons other than the enjoyment of music, music industry groups claimed. “This was not a case of friends sharing music for pleasure,” Jeremy Banks of the IFPI said shortly after the site fell, insinuating that profits were made behind the scenes.
Last week the prosecution in the OiNK trial continued down the same path, pointing out that Ellis had gathered nearly $300,000 from voluntary donations over the years. They made it seem like Ellis was running a profitable business but failed to mention that a large chunk of this money was continuously invested back into the site and its running costs.
No proof was provided that Ellis used any of the donation money to enrich himself. He had the equivalent of $32,500 in several savings accounts at the time of his arrest. Ellis planned to use this money to buy servers for the tracker.
This week Ellis has the chance to start telling the Court his side of the story, and has been detailing how he initially hosted the tracker in his own bedroom when he was studying at Teesside University.
Ellis explained how OiNK began as a pet project with the sole purpose of improving his “outdated” UK honours degree in software engineering. “I didn’t have an intention, I was furthering my skills as a programmer, as a software engineer,” Ellis told Teesside Crown Court today.
Ellis, who was working on the backend of the site to make sure that everything kept running, was merely providing a platform for OiNK’s users to share whatever they wanted. He denied the charges of conspiracy to defraud the music industry.
The case continues.