Alan Ellis, 26, creator of the Oink file-sharing Web site, was found not guilty Friday of conspiracy to defraud in a Teesside Crown Court, the BBC reported. Ellis had argued that he did not intend to defraud copyright holders when he started Oink in his Middlesbrough home in 2004.
The peer-to-peer site did not store files, but rather indexed what was available on PCs attached to the network and made it possible for people to download files from each other.
The site, which grew to nearly 200,000 members, became a major source for downloading music files before it was shut down in a police raid in October 2007. Police had invited TV crews to film the raid.
Ellis did not respond to a request for comment in time for this writing.
Morgan Rose, the solicitor who represented Ellis, said the jury returned a unanimous verdict of not guilty in 90 minutes, following a seven-day trial. He called the verdict a "resounding victory."
"This case was the first of its type, whereby a complaint was made to British police by both the British Phonographic Industry and the International Federation of Phonographic Industry alleging criminal rights infringement caused by the operation of a peer-to-peer Web site," Rose said in a statement.
While Ellis did not charge Oink members, he did ask for donations. Police found almost $300,000 in Ellis' PayPal account and he received $18,000 a month, the BBC reported. Ellis said the money was used to pay for renting a server, with the surplus earmarked for eventually buying a new server.