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Cops crash invite-only BitTorrent network

A win for Media Defender?

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Police raids in the North East of England and the Netherlands today have shut down invitation-only BitTorrent music sharing operation OiNK.cd.

Cameras were invited to witness the arrest of a 24-year-old IT worker from Middlesbrough, who is accused of being behind what police branded a "piracy scam". As part of the same Interpol-coordinated investigation, Dutch police swooped in Amsterdam to seize the OiNK servers.

The man cannot be identified for legal reasons, and is now being questioned on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and infringement of copyright law.

His employer, an unnamed large multinational, was also raided. [Know which? Tell us in confidence by clicking the reporter's name above.]

In a statement, Cleveland Police said: "This extremely lucrative and creative scheme consisted of a private file sharing website being set up. Membership was by invitation only. The site allowed the uploading and downloading of pre-release music and media to thousands of members. Members paid donations via debit or credit cards, ensuring their continued access to the site."

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) was involved in the investigation, along with the British Phonographic Institute. The record industry lobby groups said the arrest was particularly important because of OiNK's role as a source of pre-release music.

The IFPI said: "More than 60 major album releases have been leaked on OiNK so far this year, making it the primary source worldwide for illegal pre-release music."

Interestingly, OiNK was one of the file sharing networks fingered as a target of copyright honeypot operation Media Defender last month.

As noted by BitTorrent news site Slyck, 700MB of emails that were leaked from the firm included evidence that it had infiltrated OiNK. The messages indicate Media Defender had access to two of OiNK's private swarms. More here.

The IFPI's release is here and the Cleveland Police statement is here. ®

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