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October 23, 2007 // 2:05 pm - British and Dutch police today shut down the world's biggest source of illegal pre-release chart albums and arrested a 24-year old man in an operation coordinated between Middlesbrough and Amsterdam.

The raids, which were coordinated by Interpol, follow a two-year investigation by the international and UK music industry bodies IFPI and BPI into the members-only online pirate pre-release club known as OiNK.

OiNK specialised in distributing albums leaked on to the internet, often weeks ahead of their official release date. More than 60 major album releases have been leaked on OiNK so far this year, making it the primary source worldwide for illegal pre-release music.

The site, with an estimated membership of 180,000, has been used by many hardcore file-sharers to violate the rights of artists and producers by obtaining copyrighted recordings and making them available on the internet.

It is alleged that the site was operated by a 24-year-old man in the Middlesbrough area, who was arrested today. The site's servers, based in Amsterdam, were seized in a series of raids last week. OiNK's operator allegedly made money by setting up a donations account on the site facilitated by PayPal.

Cleveland Police and the FIOD-ECD SCHIPOL branch of the Dutch police undertook the raids, supported by Interpol, as part of a carefully-planned international investigation with anti-piracy investigators from IFPI and BPI.

OiNK used peer-to-peer technology called BitTorrent to distribute music. Torrent sites such as OiNK act as a library for torrent files. BitTorrent is the most popular software for internet file sharing and OiNK was the best-known for pre-release piracy.


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