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Oink's Pink Palace (frequently written as OiNK) was a prominent BitTorrent tracker located at Oink.cd (previously Oink.me.uk), which operated from May 30, 2004 until October 23, 2007, when it was shut down by police. Copyright agencies described Oink as an online pirate pre-release music club; former users described it as one of the world's largest and most meticulously maintained online music repositories.[1] About a month before the shut-down, music magazine Blender elected Oink's creator, Briton Alan Ellis, to their The Powergeek 25 — the Most Influential People in Online Music list.[2]

Web siteEdit

The site was an invitation-only BitTorrent community, with a membership of around 180,000 members at the time of closure.[3] The site's rules included a strict policy that users could not pay for membership, but have an opportunity to 'donate' at their own free will. Members were required to maintain minimum upload/download ratios, and that all avatars had to be cute.[1] Its userbase included music professionals, such as Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails.[4]

The site placed an emphasis on the sharing of music in high-quality MP3 and lossless formats such as FLAC, along with other formats such as Ogg Vorbis and M4A, with detailed meta data and also offered other types of files such as ebooks, computer software, and e-learning videos.[5]

Shutdown and media responseEdit

File:Oinkclosure.jpg

On October 23, 2007 the site was shut down by Interpol, International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), British Phonographic Industry (BPI), and other organizations in an investigation codenamed Operation Ark Royal.[6] As a part of the shut down British police arrested Oink's creator Alan Ellis, and in Amsterdam, Dutch police confiscated Oink's hosting service company NForce's servers. Despite original thoughts, it has since been revealed that users' e-mail addresses were not encrypted (However, passwords were encrypted via a salted md5 hash), and that the e-mail addresses will be available to the police. However, the data stored on Oink's servers was not sufficient to incriminate Oink users.[7]

Jeremy Banks, head of the IFPI's Internet Anti-Piracy Unit, has stated that Oink was central to the illegal distribution of pre-release music, leaking more than 60 major album releases in 2007 alone.[3] The shutdown was covered in media worldwide mainly based on IFPI, BPI and Cleveland Police's press releases and original BBC news footage of the arrest of Ellis.

The British and Dutch Pirate Parties issued a joint statement[8] condemning the actions as retaliatory, questioning the ethics of choreographing it and letting representatives of the alleged victims participate in the investigation.

File:The OiNK Top 10.jpg

In the days following the arrest, when news sources like Wired,[1] The Guardian,[9] and Slyck.com[10] started fact checking based on internet sources,[11] it was revealed that not everything reported in the mainstream media was entirely correct. Common errors quoted by media were: that Oink was an extremely lucrative website and made hundreds of thousands of pounds from "donations",[12] which users had to pay to be able to download; that users had to offer new content to the site in order to get invitations;[13] and that the site was centered around the release of prereleased material.[3] The first two claims clearly conflicted with site's written rules and conventions. A counter argument for the third was that only a tiny portion of site's content were pre-released material. TechCrunch wrote that while links to pre-release albums definitely appeared on Oink early it was unlikely that the site's members were actually responsible for these releases and claim this shows how poorly the scene is understood.[14]

After Oink was raided, several new BitTorrent Trackers were set up by former members of the site. [15]

Arrests of May 2008 Edit

Between May 23 and May 28, six former members were arrested and questioned on suspicion of "Conspiracy to Defraud the Music Industry", for the alleged sharing of pre-release music. They have all since been released on Police bail without charge. At this time, Oink administrator Alan Ellis is also on Police bail without charge.[16][17]

Notable membersEdit

Trent Reznor, Nine Inch Nails frontman and music producer, said "I'll admit I had an account there and frequented it quite often. At the end of the day, what made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store. Pretty much anything you could ever imagine, it was there, and it was there in the format you wanted. If OiNK cost anything, I would certainly have paid, but there isn't the equivalent of that in the retail space right now."[18]. His rationale for being a musician that downloads other artists' music without paying is that "they're not stealing it because they're going to make money off of it; they're stealing it because they love the band", saying he doesn't like the regular ways of downloading such as iTunes because of "DRM, low bit rate, etc." in the files and iTunes "feels like Sam Goody".

ReferencesEdit

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External linksEdit

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Press releasesEdit

News coverageEdit

Internet commentaryEdit

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