Several readers have written in to say that Oink, a music torrent server, has been busted. British and Dutch police raided the servers (via several properties in Amsterdam) and the 24-year-old IT worker (and his father) alleged to have operated the site.
Oink was arguably the largest music-focused BitTorrent-based server, but its special notoriety was in pirating albums prior to release — some 60 albums this year alone, according to worldwide recording industry body IFPI. It also succeeded as being an elite, invite-only club — albeit with a reported 180,000 members. That success led Blender Magazine to name Oink’s anonymous operator “Oinkylicious Alan” one of its 25 “power geeks” of music — though, ahem, “Alen” may not be so anonymous any more.
Updated: As several of you have noted, there were some additional details that made Oink very different. The members were largely music aficionados, with a strict upload ratio meaning that it was closer to a swapping service than some other torrent sites. What that makes me wonder — oink may well have been closer to a community, closer to legit than other torrent sites. But could it also be a model for truly legit music services?
Music software, too: Based on at least one tip from readers, the same torrent servers were also popular for pirating plug-ins and music software for “evaluation” prior to purchasing. Do people really purchase software after pirating it? Our sources say some do, at least among die-hard computer musicians on CDM, though unquestionably many more don’t. The availability of demo versions of a lot of software should raise at least some eyebrows, but in fairness, not all software is available as a demo — particularly plug-ins. (Many other CDM readers, for the record, stay away from pirated music software for “evaluation” or otherwise.) But at least a couple of you have noted software wasn’t a big portion of oink.
Torrent, force for good. Note to software publishers: legit torrents could actually be a great way to distribute real demo versions and updates, at vastly reduced bandwidth costs. Unfortunately, each time torrent servers aggressively promote piracy, BitTorrent as a technology loses ground. And that’s too bad; BitTorrent really is fantastic tech with real legitimate uses.