The dismantling of OiNK generated an enormous amount of coverage for the file-sharing community.
Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes
The private BitTorrent website was one of the largest private websites online with over 180,000 members. Currently, the IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) has claimed responsibility for the take down of the website and the administrator was arrested at his flat (as the BBC report clearly showed). While there is no shortage of information that is currently going around, it seems that incorrect information has been introduced into the mix. Slyck has taken the time to separate the myths from the facts in the hopes to provide some clarity into the event that gripped the private BitTorrent file-sharing community.
We begin our journey with actual correct information. On October 23, 2007, OiNK, a private BitTorrent website was taken down by British and Dutch police in a raid. The Dutch police confiscated the servers, while the British took the administrator into custody. The IFPI did issue a press release applauding the move.
Myth: The OiNK administrator downloaded music onto his website for distribution.
Fact: Users from all over the internet have posted material onto the website. To this date, no one has presented any evidence that the administrator for OiNK posted any of the content. Also, even if he did, the correct term would have been ‘uploaded’ to begin with.
Myth: the OiNK website is hosting copyrighted works.
Fact: OiNK is a BitTorrent website and the only thing stored in the servers is hash values to files stored on peer’s computers.
Myth: You paid money to access the content.
Fact: Users could only join OiNK via free “invites”. In fact, before OiNK was taken down, OiNK had a warning that said that if you paid money to get into the website, you would be found out and banned.
Myth: A donation fund has been set up to help the OiNK administrator fight this case in courts.
Fact: As is typical with just about every take-down, countless fake donation sites have been posted, but the money isn’t going to OiNK. No official donation system has been set up as of yet.
Myth: OiNK existed for the sole purpose of pre-released content.
Fact: There was pre-released content available through the trackers of OiNK, but this was not the purpose of the website.
Myth: There were no warning signs to suggest a take down of OiNK.
Fact: Slyck ran it’s own investigation through the publicly available emails which were leaked from Media Defender and found that those hired by the copyright holders were monitoring the website for some time. Whether it was solely through Media Defender or through another organization is not clear. However, it was known that at least one individual that was hired by parties who were interested in stemming file-sharing had access to, not only the website, but to IP addresses of those in the swarms.
While there are clearcut points which are clearcut true and clearcut false, there is always some points which is not certain. One of the more important points many file-sharers who were members of the site are asking, ‘what are my chances of getting caught?’ Figuring out the fallout for users of the website is extremely difficult at best. Though there is one event that has already happened that may present a clue for users – the take down of Elite Torrents.
When Elite Torrents was taken down, many similar questions were asked as they are today with the take down of OiNK. While the situation in some aspects are similar, the reasons may be different. When Elite Torrents was taken down, organizations like ICE made it perfectly clear what the specific reasons were for the take down of the website – the presence of Star Wars – Episode III being tracked by the website. The OiNK take down is different given that the only reasons were that pre-released music was released on the trackers. In the case of Elite Torrents, many feared that the raids provided a goldmine of information for copyright authorities – as is the same with OiNK’s raid. If, despite the clear differences, history repeats itself, an Administrator, and a handful of releaser’s would end up in legal trouble. To this day, despite the fears of hundreds of users facing legal woes, no one outside the releaser’s and the Administrator have reportedly faced legal trouble.
While the confusion could have easily ended, there is one posting made by an individual who opened a Blogspot account and started posting comments on the OiNK issues. The legitimacy of the postings have proved compelling, but there are a few important points to be made: Anyone can create a blog via Google’s Blogger with a few simple steps and anyone with enough knowledge can actually edit the postings to just about any custom template they choose. Having said that, the blog postings do contain sound advice such as being extremely skeptical about any legal funds. Ironically enough, probably the best advice was actually posted by this individual. “If you’re in doubt I’m who I say I am, then don’t believe me.” Paine advises, “I encourage you all to exercise extreme caution when people are floating around throwing names about left right and center saying these things.”
While a lot of information is being posted online, the fog of uncertainty, as usual, looms around this large event. However, as is the case with every other take down or crippling in file-sharing, something new will very likely take its place. This is one thing that is certain because it has happened with Napster (FastTrack, WinMX, Gnutella, eDonkey2000), FastTrack (Public BitTorrent), WinMX (The WinMX Pie Projects), SuprNova (MiniNova, Private Sites), ThePirateBay (ThePirateBay), etc. Will anyone know what specifically will actually replace OiNK? Not until it proves to be a replacement in the first place.