Oink founder cleared in landmark ruling

Cast your mind back to the beginning of June 2008, when six people were arrested following the shutdown of a music sharing site called OiNK's Pink Palace - described as "one of the world's largest and most meticulously maintained online music repositories".

Out of the investigation that followed, founder Alan Ellis was collared as the person that the major labels felt was responsible. He was accused of conspiracy to defraud the music industry, and over the last week a trial has been taking place at Teesside Crown Court.

The labels claimed he made hundreds of thousands of pounds from the site, which he ran from his bedroom. However, to the major labels' dismay, a jury has unanimously cleared the software engineer of the charge. The UK doesn't have a concept of contributory infringement, so he was unable to be charged for a similar offence to that of the Pirate Bay operators.

The landmark ruling, which is without precedent in the UK, will boost the filesharing community in Britain, but could also hasten the progress of the Digital Britain bill through Parliament, which in its current state would allow a Secretary of State to change around copyright laws at will, without approval from Parliament. That proposal has proven rather unpopular, however, and is currently being closely scrutinized.

More as we get it.

Update: The BPI - which represents the interests of the major labels in the UK - has issued a statement, saying: "This is a hugely disappointing verdict which is out of line with decisions made in similar cases around the world, such as The Pirate Bay. The defendant made nearly £200,000 by exploiting other people's work without permission. The case shows that artists and music companies need better protection".