Page last updated at 15:57 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Oink music sharing website was 'large-scale rip-off'

A music sharing website run by a Teesside man was a case of "large-scale, professional, ripping off", a court has heard.

Alan Ellis, 26, who founded the Oink site, denies conspiracy to defraud.

Teesside Crown Court was told he had $300,000 in his Paypal account when his home in Grange Road, Middlesbrough, was raided in 2007.

Prosecutor Peter Makepeace said all the cash benefited Mr Ellis and none went to the artists who created the music.

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, it was going to Mr Ellis
Prosecutor Peter Makepeace

The court heard that membership to Oink was free, but by invitation only, and anyone wishing to propose a friend had to make a five dollar payment.

Peter Makepeace, prosecuting, said: "At the time this website was taken down, there were approximately 200,000 active members."

"Those users had access to about 200,000 audio files.

"This site had facilitated a staggering 21 million downloads of those available files."

The website never had to upload any music itself, all it did was "provide the facility of linking one person to another who wanted that music."

He added that it was a case of "large-scale, professional, clever, technical ripping off."

Oink was set up in May 2004 and hosted in Norway, but later moved to Amsterdam after the music industry asked it to stop.

Following an investigation in October 2007, which led to the site being closed down, police simultaneously raided premises close to Schiphol Airport and Mr Ellis's Middlesbrough home.

The prosecution said that when interviewed by police, Mr Ellis refused to answer questions about money, and said it was "out of my hands" what the site's members did.

Worldwide donations

Police found donations from around the world in several of Ellis's Paypal accounts.

Mr Makepeace said: "It is clear that he received by way of donations personally, almost $300,000."

None of the cash was going to the music industry, the court heard.

"Every penny was going to Mr Ellis," Mr Makepeace said.

"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, it was going to Mr Ellis."

The trial continues.



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