Founder of "Oink" music sharing site acquitted of fraud

After waiting for more than two years, Alan Ellis, the founder of music sharing website "Oink" whose televised arrest made headlines in 2007 is a free man.

In a crushing blow to the music industry, Ellis, 26, was acquitted of conspiracy to defraud with a unanimous (12-to-0) verdict by the jury after a two week trial in Teesside Crown Court.

As a private, invitation-only Bit Torrent tracker "Oink" focused on quality rather than quantity, typically offering various music albums in a lossless audio format. Members were asked to make donations to assist in covering the cost of the sites servers, which simply provided a method of finding shared files on the Internet instead of actually hosting the content. It operated from 2004 until 2007, when a police raid resulted in the website being taken offline and lead to Ellis' arrest.

Prosecutor Peter Makepeace slammed Ellis during the trial, painting an extremely negative picture in regards to the once popular file-sharing site, labeling it as a place designed as a personal revenue machine for Ellis.

"21 million downloads. 600,000-plus albums. $300,000. This was a cash cow, it was perfectly designed to profit him and it was as dishonest as the day is long," said Makepeace as he presented the case to the jury.

He alleged that Ellis told "persistent, cunning, calculated lies" trying to pull the wool over the jury’s eyes as to why he had set the website up.

Alex Stein, a member of the defense counsel, said that Ellis had not acted dishonestly.

"In many societies, he'd be an innovator, a creator, a Richard Branson. His talent would be molded, not crushed by some sort of media organization," Stein said. 

In his defense, Ellis said that "[It was] to further my skills as a programmer, as a software engineer. [It was] to better my skills for employability."

The domain for the website, Oink.cd, is still currently active and provides a way to get in touch with Ellis, who declined to comment as he left the courtroom.

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