Friday, 8 January 2010

Music File-Sharer in Court Over 21-Million Illegal Downloads

The founder of an illegal file-sharing website raked in £188,000 in “donations” from people who had downloaded 21 million songs, a jury heard yesterday.

Alan Ellis amassed the fortune via his Oink website, which provided music files to its 200,000 members, allowing them to obtain albums free, sometimes long before they were officially released in the shops.

Ellis claimed he was ‘like Google’, the website never had to upload any music itself, all it did was provide the facility of pointing users in the right direction, linking one person to another who wanted that music.

Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, said it was "large scale, professional, clever, technical ripping off" from 200,000 music files.

He told the jury: "Every penny was going to Mr Ellis. He hadn't sung a note, he hadn't played an instrument, he hadn't produced anything. The money was not going to the people it rightly belonged to."

The 26-year-old, from Middlesbrough, set up the site in May 2004. It was free to join but was invitation-only, with members paying a £5 donation to propose a friend.

It was initially hosted in Norway before being moved to the Netherlands seven months later when the music industry asked Ellis to stop.

Oink was shut down in 2007 when police simultaneously raided its server site close to Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport as well as Ellis’s home, they found about £188,000 in donations in Ellis' Paypal accounts.

Ellis denies a charge of conspiracy to defraud.

The trial continues.

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