In the November Music Law Updates we noted that the IFPI and BPI had managed to close down the OiNK website which specialised in allowing users to swap albums leaked in advance of official release dates. Now OiNK founder, Alan Ellis, who was arrested by UK police for copyright infringement earlier in the week in the raid, has denied that the service he ran contravenes copyright laws, comparing the tracking service to search engines like Google. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he said: “I haven’t done anything wrong. I don’t believe my website breaks the law. They [the police] don’t understand how it works. The website is very different from how the police are making it out to be. There is no music sold on the site – I am doing nothing wrong. I don’t sell music to people, I just direct them to it. If somebody wants to illegally download music they are going to do it whether my site is there or not”. Making the Google comparison, he continued: “If this goes to court it is going to set a huge precedent. It will change the internet as we know it. As far as I am aware no-one in Britain has ever been taken to court for running a website like mine. My site is no different to something like Google. If Google directed someone to a site where they can illegally download music they are doing the same as what I have been accused of. I am not making any OiNK users break the law”. Mr Ellis also argued that file-sharers buy more not less music, despite downloading large amounts of music for free: “People who download music also buy CDs as well. A lot of people download music on the internet to get a taste of it and then later buy the CD” (interestingly backed up by new Canadian research –see above). There have been a number of cases in this area in the USA, beginning with the original Napster case and then the US Supreme Courts decision in MGM vGrokster where what could be called ‘inducement to infringe’ was held to be illegal. More recently in Atlantic v Howell it was held that ‘making available’ files for unauthorised swapping was infringement. Now it might be the UK’s courts turn to take a look at this area.
CMU Daily http://www.thebeatsbar.co.uk