In a larger sense, many of us won. The Oink raid and trial was, at it’s essence, a show-trial, every bit a spectacle trial (or ‘spectrial’) as last years Pirate Bay one – if not moreso. After all, the Swedish Police didn’t do the raid accompanied by TV cameras – in fact they covered up cameras – but otherwise it was similar.
So let’s go through the case. It started with a raid, covered by the BBC in a regional news program that covered the talking points of the victim (the IFPI/BPI) and the police. Worse, the police, in the form of Detective Inspector Colin Green, made definitive statements that were at odds with the facts.
“There’s approximately 180,000 members, who pay subscriptions to enter the website and download any music that’s available. And music that’s been made available on that website, it’s pre-release, it hasn’t gone into the record shops”
As we all know, subscriptions were not required. Nor was music downloaded from the site. As for the pre-release claims, a small percentage may have been, but the better question is where it came from, presumably a music industry person that decided to upload, and not acquired by Mr Ellis himself.
The ominous warning put on Oink.cd
The domain was also hijacked, by the IFPI and BPI, displaying their logos and an intimidating message. Interestingly, the representatives of the alleged victims, the IFPI and BPI, were not only participating in a criminal investigation, but headlining it. A definite conflict of interest at the very least, but the hijacking of private property owned by the defendant, by the accuser, to post intimidation and attempt to influence people, is clearly an attempt to prejudice the trial. 3 days later, thankfully, the website was redirected, but it shows the levels of influence these industry bodies have over the police.
Meanwhile, Alan Ellis, was released, and spent the next 11 months on bail before being finally charged with “Conspiracy to defraud the music industry”. The UK lobby group FACT has a description of the offence which actually pretty much gave the case as a win for Ellis (and archive.org says the page is still the same as in May 06). The specimen charge they give reads
On a day between the … Day of… 19.. And the … Day of… 19.. In the county of… And elsewhere, conspired with … And with persons unknown to defraud the copyright owners of various video films by marketing/distributing/manufacturing infringing copies of video films contrary to the common law
No-one was defrauded of films, they still had them. The only way the charge could work, is if the claim is that the copyright owners had been deprived of money they might have got. Great, except that argument can be made by anyone you’re in competition with. Oh, and copyright, not a property – it’s an assignable right.
Next time – the build up, the users, and the pre-trial playabout.