TorrentSpy

TorrentSpy

TorrentSpy was a popular BitTorrent indexing Web Site. It tracked torrent files (which were hosted externally) and provided a forum to comment on them. It also integrated Digg-like user-driven content site ShoutWire's feed into its front page. In August 2007 there were more than 1,000,000 torrents indexed with thousands of new torrents indexed every day.

The Motion Picture Association of America filed a lawsuit in February 2006 for TorrentSpy facilitating copyright infringement as many torrents on its site were copyrighted films. In December 2007 the court ruled against TorrentSpy for "widespread and systematic efforts to destroy evidence and have provided false testimony under oath in an effort to hide evidence of such destruction." On March 24, 2008 facing further fines for not cooperating with the court, TorrentSpy shut itself down.

On May 7, 2008, a federal judge ordered TorrentSpy to pay the Motion Picture Association of America $110 million for alleged infringement of thousands of copyrighted film and TV shows. In a four-page final ruling, U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper entered the multimillion-dollar judgment against TorrentSpy parent company Valence Media as terminating sanctions for destroying evidence related to the case. Cooper also issued a permanent injunction against the Web site, which shut down March 24. The MPAA, which represents the Hollywood studios, filed suit against TorrentSpy in February 2006, claiming that the site's torrent files were illegally uploaded. "This substantial money judgment sends a strong message about the illegality of these sites," MPAA chairman and CEO Dan Glickman said. "The demise of TorrentSpy is a clear victory for the studios." Whether the MPAA will collect the $110 million from TorrentSpy remains to be seen. Court records show that Valence and TorrentSpy principals Justin Bunnell and Wes Parker have filed for bankruptcy.

Legal

In May 2005, the site was forced to remove all torrents of Star Wars: Episode III after a stolen workprint of the film was leaked to the internet.

In July 2005, searches for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas were blocked "due to the request of the copyright holder, in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act ("DMCA")". This limitation was later removed However, the ability for a copyright holder to request the blockage of a particular search query remained.

In February 2006, the MPAA filed lawsuits against Torrentspy, isoHunt, and others for "abusing technology to facilitate infringement of copyrighted works."

In March 2006, the site layout went through some changes, each category of a particular TV show were removed and also movie categories were radically changed and merged together under a Video section. The forum administrators only explained that the categories have changed, but not why.

In April 2007 World Wrestling Entertainment removed most of the Wrestlemania 23 and other PPV torrents due to copyright infringement and users of the website speaking out against and criticizing WWE.

On May 29, 2007, A United States federal judge ordered that TorrentSpy begin monitoring its users' activities and to submit these logs to the Motion Picture Association of America. TorrentSpy's attorney, Ira Rothken, stated that TorrentSpy would rather deny access to U.S. users before it started monitoring anyone, since such monitoring is in violation of TorrentSpy's own privacy policy.

In August 2007, TorrentSpy began denying access to United States users and international users using US-based ISPs. In response, the MPAA filed documents calling TorrentSpy's denial of access "another illegitimate attempt by defendants to evade authority of this court and the May 29 order", and asking for sanctions. The tracker also reported that they were forced to handover all download logs to the RIAA. There were many ways to get to the tracker in the U.S by using a web based proxy but many people were scared of being caught. The ability for users to make comments on individual torrents was also disabled at this time.

On October 2007, a former TorrentSpy associate, Robert Anderson, said that the MPAA paid him $15,000 for inside information about the website. He was also able to hack into TorrentSpy's e-mail system and hand over confidential information to the MPAA. Even though MPAA admitted in the court having bought the inside e-mails, justice ruled that they contained no business secrets, nor that there would have been anything illegal in the procedure.

Shut down

On March 24, 2008, TorrentSpy's servers were shut down, shortly after a message was posted commenting on the end of TorrentSpy:

"Friends of TorrentSpy,

We have decided on our own, not due to any court order or agreement, to bring the Torrentspy.com search engine to an end and thus we permanently closed down worldwide on March 24, 2008.
The legal climate in the USA for copyright, privacy of search requests, and links to torrent files in search results is simply too hostile. We spent the last two years, and hundreds of thousands of dollars, defending the rights of our users and ourselves.
Ultimately the Court demanded actions that in our view were inconsistent with our privacy policy, traditional court rules, and International law; therefore, we now feel compelled to provide the ultimate method of privacy protection for our users - permanent shutdown.

It was a wild ride,

The TorrentSpy Team

'Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order [...] and the like.' - Justice William O. Douglas"

Several days after the shut down of TorrentSpy, former employee Jason Hughes introduced his own bittorrent site movieTorrents.

TorrentSpy has been ordered to pay $110m (£56m) in damages to the Motion Picture Association of America for copyright infringement.

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External links

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