BitTorrent Operator Explains His Views on the Legality of His System

I have seen several posts on TorrentFreak about the trial of Alan Ellis who operated the OiNK BitTorrent tracker. I didn’t really feel it was worth comment on as the toppling of The Pirate Bay has seen big content eagerly pursuing the next largest trackers and so on down the line.

Mike Masnick, though, unpacks the story a little, explaining why it may be worth paying closer attention. First is a compelling quote from well known musician, Trent Reznor, on his use of the tracker. Not surprisingly, it echoes rhetoric we’ve been hearing for some time, that of a market failure by the entertainment industry. Most recently, Lord Lucas in his criticism of the Digital Economy Bill has followed this same thread to accuse labels and studios of bringing the woes they want to solve with three strikes entirely on themselves.

What is more concerning is that according to Masnick, the UK doesn’t have a strong or even any conception of contributory infringement. If he is right, then Ellis’ view on the legality of OiNK may have some validity. That’s the silver lining. Unfortunately, it also is a big red bull’s eye for the ACTA negotiations, to bull doze any local development of such a legal notion with the worst case form.

This is why gatherings like CopyNight are important, about which another longer post is brewing in my brain. It is critical that audience and creators both know the state of current, local law so we can fully gauge the impact on creative expression and exchange threatened by policy laundering efforts like ACTA.

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