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UK Police Start Arresting Ex-Users of a BitTorrent P2P Network

Posted: 02nd Jun, 2008 By: MarkJ
British police have reportedly begun making arrests of ex-OiNK users, which use to be one of the most popular private BitTorrent (P2P) trackers before it was shut down by IFPI and the BPI in 2007. The TorrentFreak articles (here and here) suggest that at least one new individual has been arrested for the seeding of an album:

Furthermore, information suggests that the police will be arresting and interviewing more users in the course of this investigation but at this stage it is unclear exactly who they are targeting and why. A one-off album uploader seems an unlikely target, particularly as legally in the UK, the fact that the album was allegedly pre-released (i.e shared albums before their stated retail release date) - as opposed to released after retail - means little.

Presently, P2P use/abuse of this nature is still classified as a civil offence, unless money is involved, in which case it would usually become criminal. However, it's understood that those arrested are being accused of 'Conspiracy to Defraud the Music Industry' (some legal waffle):

Those accused were visited by detectives involved with ‘Operation Ark Royal’, sometimes accompanied by local police. After identification, they were arrested under suspicion of “Conspiracy to Defraud the Music Industry”, told that they were not alone and that police would be arresting and interviewing more people in connection with the case. Suspects were then taken to their local police station for questioning and required to provide DNA samples and fingerprinting.

During their interview the suspects were asked all about OiNK, their understanding of the purpose of the site and what they did as a user there. The police were also keen to discover if these alleged pre-releasers personally knew OiNK admin, Alan Ellis, which of course - like the majority of OiNK members - they didn’t.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out as, depending on the details, the resolution could give police greater authority to peruse P2P copyright abusers as criminals. It's also understood that Alan Ellis has offered free legal support to certain arrested individuals.
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