An international law enforcement collaboration today brought down OiNK, described by the IFPI as the world's biggest source of pirated pre-release chart albums.

A 24-year-old-man in the Middlesbrough area of north England was arrested during raids coordinated by Interpol and involving Cleveland Police and the FIOD-ECD SCHIPOL branch of the Dutch police.

Today's sting was the culmination of a two-year investigation led by the IFPI and BPI. OiNK's Amsterdam-based servers were seized in raids last week.

“We’re very pleased with this development,” IFPI chairman/CEO John Kennedy tells “This was a huge site, a source of many problems. We got the site down, it looks like there’s consequences for those involved in it, and I suspect it will give us a lot of information which we would like to further assess.”

In a statement, the IFPI declared OiNK's shutting as an "important victory in the industry's bid to tackle copyright theft."

"OiNK was central to the illegal distribution of pre-release music online," said Jeremy Banks, head of the IFPI's Internet anti-piracy unit. "This was not a case of friends sharing music for pleasure. This was a worldwide network that got hold of music they did not own the rights to and posted it online."

The illicit OiNK online music club was responsible for leaking more than 60 major album releases onto the Internet this year alone, often weeks before the official street date, the IFPI says.

OiNK has acted as a hub for "hardcore file-sharers," explains the IFPI, with membership numbering about 180,000. The service used BitTorrent peer-to-peer technology to distribute the content online, and is understood to have generated revenue through a donations account on its site, with transactions handled by PayPal.

"The government is now well aware of the scale of damage this theft causes to music - copyright theft starves the creative industries of income, which both threatens future investment in artists and vandalises our culture," noted BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor.

"That this individual now faces criminal charges will deter some but no doubt others will be looking move into this territory, and the authorities must keep up the pressure to deter the digital freeloaders."

IFPI CEO John Kennedy had hinted at the action when he delivered his keynote speech Oct. 16 at the Tokyo Asia Music Market conference.