The record industry celebrated a triumph in its fight against piracy Tuesday after police in the U.K. and the Netherlands shut down what they called the world’s biggest source of illegal pre-release chart albums.
A 24-year-old man was arrested in an operation coordinated by international police org Interpol with the help of trade bodies the Intl. Federation of the Phonographic Industry and the British Phonographic Industry.
The raids came after a two-year probe into a members-only, online pirate pre-release club known as OiNK. The club distributed albums leaked on to the Internet, often weeks ahead of their official release, affecting sales.
According to the BPI, more than 60 major albums have been leaked on OiNK this year, making it the primary source worldwide for illegal pre-release music.
Some 180,000 people were members of OiNK, many of them hardcore file-sharers who download pre-release albums before making the recordings available to many thousands of others through peer-to-peer file-sharing services.
The man who was arrested was operating in Middlesbrough, 250 miles north of London, while the site’s servers, based in Amsterdam, were seized in a series of raids. OiNK’s operator allegedly made money by setting up a donations account on the site, facilitated by PayPal.