Alan Ellis, the former administrator of the defunct, high-profile music sharing site OiNK, was acquitted by a UK jury Friday on charges of conspiracy to defraud. The verdict comes 2 years after British police arrested Ellis. This was the first trial in the UK where an individual was prosecuted for file sharing.
Ellis, 26, ran the torrent search engine which facilitated 21 million downloads from 2004 to October 2007, when it was shut down in a police raid.
During its operation, users were solicited for donations to the site, although it was not required for use of the site. The jury was told that police found almost $300,000 in Ellis’s PayPal account and that he received £11,000 (roughly $18,000) a month in donations from OiNK users.
Ellis defended that he never intended to defraud copyright holders, and the site was set up to “better [his technical] skills for employability.” He testified that the donations were to pay for the server’s rental and any “surplus” would eventually be used to buy a server.
OiNK did not host any music itself, but rather indexed the torrent files that would be used for file swapping.
Ellis declined to speak after the trial.