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A computer programmer who ran pirate music website Oink has been cleared of conspiracy to defraud charges, demonstrating the challenges faced by internet service providers (ISPs) in policing the web.

Alan Ellis, 26, had been accused of "ripping off" music labels and artists, but he told a court that he had merely set up the site to further his own IT skills and career.

The 200,000-member site, closed down in 2007, did not actually host any music itself, Mr Ellis stated, but enabled filesharers to discover other users prepared to share content for free.

He explained that all monies earned through Oink were from user donations, collected to cover server rental costs, and there had been no intention to infringe copyright.

A spokesperson for the British Recorded Music Industry described the jury verdict as being "hugely disappointing" and "out of line" with other decisions made in similar cases around the world.

The government has expressed a desire to force ISPs to warn filesharers, and even disconnect them from the internet, if they are suspected of illegal downloading.

However, Carphone Warehouse's Chief Executive Charles Dunstone has criticised the plans, saying that service providers and broadband consumers "should not have to bail out the music industry".

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