Feeds

BitTorrent admin's police bail extended (again)

Further delay for milestone OiNK investigation

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

Cleveland police have extended the bail granted to the former administrator of an alleged music piracy site for a second time, in a bid to collect more evidence for a case that could mark a watershed for UK internet law.

Alan Ellis, a 24-year-old IT worker from Middlesbrough, was arrested in October on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and copyright infringement offences, over his site OiNK's Pink Palace.

A police spokeswoman said today that he had been briefly reinterviewed today for clarifications and granted police bail to reappear on May 6. The extension has been sought to allow more time for computer forensics, she said.

The deadline for investigators to gather evidence and decide whether or not to bring charges was originally scheduled for 21 December. Early in December however, police extended the cut-off to today, 4 February. At the same time the servers were returned wiped to OiNK's Dutch ISP.

Now the reckoning has been postponed again, bringing the total length of the inquiry to more than seven months.

From 2004 until his arrest last year, Ellis ran OiNK as an invitation-only BitTorrent tracker that focused on high-quality music files. It was shut down by a high profile dawn raid on his flat, coordinated with Dutch authorities seizing servers and a search of his parents' home in Cheshire. The swoop was dubbed "Operation Ark Royal".

Since his arrest, Ellis has publicly argued that OiNK merely provided a Google-like indexing service, and cannot be held accountable for the actual music files that the trackers poined to. It's the same defence that's set to be used by the administrators of the Swedish BitTorrent tracker Pirate Bay in their upcoming trial.

If a copyright prosecution is ever brought against Ellis, it would be a test case for a 2003 amendment to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act that states a criminal offence may be committed by a person who "distributes otherwise than in the course of a business so as to affect prejudicially the honour or reputation of the author or director".

It would be a break with the tradition of copyright infringement being a civil matter, but it's been suggested by lawyers the amendment could be taken by a court to include the operators of filesharing trackers or even their users. Ellis himself is clearly aware of the significance of his case. Shortly after the raids he told The Telegraph: "If this goes to court it is going to set a huge precedent. It will change the internet as we know it."

The conspiracy to defraud investigation is likely to be centred on the "hundreds of thousands of pounds" of proceeds from OiNK Clevleand police's press release said they expected to uncover.

Operation Ark Royal was UK police's first raid targeting a filesharing site, and provoked anger online, particularly for its media handling.

Critics accused Cleveland police of allowing itself to be misled by the record industry anti-piracy lobby. In the BBC News report of the raid, for example, Ellis was accused of "illegally downloading music on to his website" and Detective Inspector Colin Green wrongly stated that OiNK users paid subscriptions. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
ONE EMAIL costs mining company $300 MEEELION
Environmental activist walks free after hoax sent share price over a cliff
UK government officially adopts Open Document Format
Microsoft insurgency fails, earns snarky remark from UK digital services head
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.