Oink, the music sharing site that was shut down in May 2007 on accounts of promoting piracy, had around 200,000 members who had references to over 200,000 audio files and had overseen 21 million downloads since it was launched in 2004.
Oink was owned by one Alan Ellis of Teesside, UK, who, according to Prosecutor Peter Makepeace, had amassed a small fortune of £188,000 from the site.
Referring to the site as a "large scale rip-off", the prosecutor told the Teesside Crown Court that "Every penny was going to Mr. Ellis. He hadn't sung a note, he hadn't played an instrument, and he hadn't produced anything."
Makepeace also revealed in front of the court and the jury members that the website was "free to join" by invitation only and members were allowed to invite a friend to become a member of the site only after a donation of £5.
Oink was created in May 2004 and was hosted in Norway, before shifting to Amsterdam after eight months, as it had been noticed by the music industry. Further investigation led to several raids at the server site near Schipol airport and Alan Ellis’s residence in Teesside in 2007.
The police also discovered $300,000 in donations from all over the world deposited in Alan's several PayPal accounts.
Alan Ellis denied the charge of "conspiracy to defraud", adding that "All I do is really like Google, to really provide a connection between people. None of the music is on my website."
Mr Ellis defence is not really holding up; sharing music files is illegal and constitute an act that causes prejudice to the copyright holders. One might liken Oink to a database of stolen goods. Even if the properties are not physically on the website, the mere fact that they are referred to could be considered as condemnable.