The man responsible for the creation and administration of the Oink torrent service has been acquitted of fraud charges.
The Teesside Crown Court found 26 year-old Alan Ellis not guilty on charges of conspiracy to defraud, the first such case brought over file sharing in the UK.
Ellis created and oversaw the operation of the Oint BitTorrent manager between 2004 and 2007. The service allowed users to connect with hosts to download files, mainly music. At the time of its shutdown, authorities estimated that Oink had some 180,000 users sharing more than 20 million files.
At time of his arrest, the former IT consultant asserted his innocence, noting that the service itself never hosted or served any music files and that all user donations went towards paying off hosting and hardware costs.
Music industry lawyers, however, argued that Ellis was profiting from trafficking in the illegal files and had in fact defrauded record labels with his activity and had amassed tens of thousands of pounds in the process.
The case is the latest in the decade-long battle between record labels and users who have spread music via file-sharing sites, such as Pirate Bay.
Both the record and film industries have long claimed that the file sharing services have caused millions in lost revenues every year, while online rights and privacy activists have accused the industries of heavy-handed, draconian tactics against users who have in most cases pirated and shared small amounts of data.
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