It's a bad time to be illegally sharing music online. As the Recording Industry Association of America begins to take notice of Usenet newsgroups in its efforts to curb music piracy, Dutch and British police have succeeded in shutting down another popular venue for illegal music sharing.
According to a report by Reuters, music sharing site OiNK has been shut down, and its 24-year-old owner has been taken into custody on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and copyright law infringement. The arrest was the conclusion of a two year investigation, and it followed raids in Amsterdam, Netherlands and Middlesbrough, United Kingdom where police seized servers and "other computer equipment."
OiNK was targeted in particular for being a source of pre-release albums. Another report from the Associated Press elaborates, quoting the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry as saying OiNK's music repertoire saw the inclusion of 60 major albums before their release this year alone. The IFPI claims OiNK was "the primary source worldwide for illegal prerelease music." The site was kept alive by credit and debit card donations from its 180,000 members.
Attempting to visit the OiNK website now yields a message stating, "This site has been closed as a result of a criminal investigation by IFPI, BPI, Cleveland Police and the Fiscal Investigation Unit of the Dutch Police (FIOD ECD) into suspected illegal music distribution. A criminal investigation continues into the identities and activities of the site's users."