Torrentspy Asks Why Hollywood Isn't Suing Google Too

from the don't-give-them-any-ideas dept

For years, we’ve pointed out that the entertainment industry doesn’t seem to get that many of the individuals and companies they go after for file sharing are just search engines. Just because they’re vertically focused, it doesn’t make them any different than Google. In fact, last year, when Norway tried to outlaw sites that simply linked to downloadable MP3s, we wondered if they had effectively outlawed Google. It seems that the folks at torrent search engine Torrentspy have picked up on this line of reasoning as well. If you remember, Torrentspy is challenging the entertainment industry, pointing out that they’re just a search engine, they don’t infringe and (a la the Grokster decision) they don’t induce infringement either. They’ve now put that “just a search engine” defense directly into their court filings. Threadwatch points out that their latest filing to dismiss the case wonders why the MPAA isn’t suing Google as well, since they effectively do the same thing. As the filing notes: “There is nothing alleged to distinguish defendants’ website from that maintained by Google. Everything alleged about defendants’ website is true about Google, and even more so, because Google outperforms the allegations in the complaint.” Of course, given the way the entertainment industry reacts these days, you never know… they might just sue Google next.

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Comments on “Torrentspy Asks Why Hollywood Isn't Suing Google Too”

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Scott (profile) says:


Is it just me, or has the number of stupid law suites increasec exponentially in the last couple of years?!?

I think they need to get some reforms going on how many law suites you can file in a 12 month period, and if you go over it, even file one too many, you get fucking SHOT!!

It seems that people are settling most problems by suing the shit out of someone else…lets go back to good ole’ pistols at 50 paces, or putting the gloves on.

Flamsmark (profile) says:

Re: exactly

it seems clear the RIAA only sues if it thinks it can win.

how odd: only filing cases when you expect to win. especially when your lawyers are so expensive. how evil is that? i mean, i’m sure you file loads of cases that you expect to loose.

of course they only file cases they expect to win. anything else would just be idiotic. they may have difficulties with many aspects of reality, but they’re not complete idiots.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: exactly

“effective, if disgusting strategy”

Good grief. That has got to be one of the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Of COURSE they are only going to sue if they think they can win you dolt! Why on earth would ANYBODY sue someone if they thought they might LOSE!?

Yes; most of us hate the RIAA and MPAA… but I have to say that was a completely unintellegent comment.

Amos says:

There's a difference

Google effectively indexes the whole internet, while sites like TorrentSpy caters directly to infringing content.

Nobody uses TorentSpy to check their stock holdings or look for cute pictures of kittens. It is almost exclusivly used to trade infringing content…ripped DVDs, cracked copies of photoshop, etc.

Equating Google with TorrentSpy is like saying that a city should be held responsible for the misdeeds of a single home. Like suing a city when a homeowner sets up a drug trade in his house. If there IS anything unlawful going on with TorrentSpy, the only thing Google has done is index their infringing site…

Not that I have anything against TorrentSpy. It lets me play around with nice software as if I was a rich guy…but I can see why a content producer would be upset by it. It’s neat and it’s fun, but part of me knows that it’s just not quite -right-.

ProgramAIR says:

Re: What Difference?

Torrentspy just has a directory of small (~80K) files that allow you to find peers. None of the copyrighted data is stored on or distributed directly from their site.

Google is how I found Torrentspy in the first place. On top of that, I can find their files without using Torrentspy’s search engine since Google indexes all of them.

If how bittorrent works was redesigned a bit, and client applications incorporated a simple automated webserver. Pirates could share and find files without sites like Torrentspy. To find other pure-peer-torrents, you’d just search with google. Basically, every peer would become a small Torrentspy.

Donkey says:

Re: Re:

You have missed the point completely. They do not HOLD any files. They are just a search engine, a completely devoid of responsibility, third party to the whole piracy process.

Come on now, if I gave you my drug dealers phone number does that mean I sold you drugs? NO, it doesn’t now, does it! You and the drug dealer made your own deal on your own terms and I just helped to put you in touch with each other. FUCK the MPAA!

shableep says:

Piracy does not equate to Theft

There are reports that suggest a $34 billion loss because of software piracy. But $34 in pirated software doesn’t equate to $34 billion in would-be sales. It gives corporations a lopsided view of missed revenue and causes them to invest far too much in anti-piracy measures. Corporations don’t realize that piracy is, for most, a place holder for people that would just as easily find a cheaper alternative. People with the financial freedom to purchase Windows and Photoshop

If I was completely unable to download pirated Windows and Photoshop, I would most likely end up running Linux and Gimp. The fact of the matter is that either way the situation goes, I still wont be able to buy their software. Same with DVDs. If I have to buy the DVD, I’ll most likely end up watching it at a friends. In either case, I just don’t have the money or it’s not worth it to me. So, I find a worthy alternative.

You’ve got a few groups that are involved in this $34 billion chunk of change. There’s the ‘Why pay when I can pirate?’ group. The ‘I can’t pay, so I pirate’ group. And the ‘Hey, that’s kinda cool. Why not?’ group. I would bet that the first group… is by far the minority.

By no means am I saying piracy is negligible. But the scope of it’s severity is greatly exaggerated. Piracy is different than theft. The financial loss of that sale is not directly recoverable. And no limited resource has been removed that needs to be recovered.

There’s all this madness over piracy of intellectual property that people easily overlook the root of the problem.

And that’s the end of my barely relevant and overly intense rant.

Brian (profile) says:

Why don't they sue?

Simple, if they attempted to sue Google, and could not get an immediate injunction preventing Google from operating, the case would make the DoJ vs. IBM suit look like a short peep-show and that one lasted what? A couple of decades? Google has serious deep pockets.

Torrentspy and related sites that are simply cases of specialized search engines simply don’t have the deep-pockets of a Google, MSN, Yahoo!, etc. Yet I can use any of those “mainstream” search engines to find .torrent seed files, crackz, serialz, etc. ad nauseum. Yes, I am familiar with the terminology, and how to do such things since I work the security side of the IT industry. The RIAA, MPAA, and other AA’s of the IP industry have yet to come to terms with the information age. Where once they were the gate-keepers and could charge a toll, now anyone can be a gate-keeper (publisher), even your grandma in Podunk. Perhaps someday they will wake up and smell the coffee, but it will be a long time coming, in internet years, before they do.

Nick says:

Not win but...

It’s not a case of suing because you can win, the RIAA has more of a history of suing those who cannot afford to fight back, and that is industries as well inividuals…

They are such a pain to tech companies, I really wonder how long it will be before one with deep pocjets decides to just buy up the labels that are making all th trouble…

oren0 says:


That has got to be one of the stupidest thing I’ve heard in a long time. Of COURSE they are only going to sue if they think they can win you dolt! Why on earth would ANYBODY sue someone if they thought they might LOSE!?

You haven’t been paying attention, have you? The RIAA (and to a lesser extent, the MPAA) doesn’t sue when it thinks it can win. It sues when it knows the suit will never go to court. If the RIAA sues someone for $500,000 and then offers to settle for $5000 people take it. They could spend more on their defense and still potentially lose. This has nothing to do with the legal merits or whether they think they’ll win anything.

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course they don’t want to go after Google. They know it would be deadlocked in court for ever. No. They want to go after the small guy.

The RIAA and the entertainment industry refuses to acknowledge that people prefer to download music and movies so if these entities simply provided convenient and effective ways to accomodate this then they could make some money off of it. It was just like when VCRs hit the scene, hollywood moaned non stop about piracy when in reality they didn’t want to take the time to come up with a business model that would work. Of course VCRs and videos took off in a huge way and actually made Hollywood MORE money than with theatrical releases alone – yet at first they bitterly opposed this technology. Its the same thing now. Get in tune with what consumers want and you can keep the honest guy honest and make money.

Bob Dole (user link) says:

Rantings and musings

They claim billions in losses, but it’s not like I would have bought photoshop CS2 for $700 anyway. Or Windows Server 2003 for $X000.

Granted I wouldn’t buy a Farrari, nor would I steal one, but there’s a difference between a physical good and a realized good. it’s not a loss if you were never going to sell it in the first place.

Thats my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

Tsully says:


I love abusing the privelage of downloading stuff as much as the next person…but i have to say that i think it’s coming to a close soon. The “we’re just a search engine” defense can also be taken as “we only directly facilitate breaking the law” I wish there was a way, but i think this method of file sharing will go the way of old yeller soon no matter what. Although i’m 100% confident that techies will find another roundabout way to get the task done if it should. To use another example suppose you went into GNC and said “i’d like to buy some anabolic steroids please” and the guy behind the counter told you to walk out the back door and purchase them from his friend who has a crate set up. The GNC guy is absolutely breaking the law, hands down. He has facilitated a crime being commited, and is entirely knowledgable that what happens between the 2 other parties constitutes an illegal transaction. It’s like ordering a porno to an abandoned house when you’re 13 and waiting for the mailman lol. The people hosting the files are committing a more serious crime i’d imagine but “the man” isn’t stupid, he knows where the points of access are and goes after them. These search engine sites might not be breaking any law that exists, but you can’t be like “they’re just like google” because they’re targeting what they know to be illegal files with their search engine.

StormBringer says:


The MPAA has forgoten that the history of recorded music and movies are only 100 years old. Before that time if someoene was going to make money off of their art they had to perform it live.

As pointed out in the 14th post. The 34 billion in losses are not really loses. Hollywood itself is at fault for what they are lossing.

The costs of making music and movies have been run up by them. Their loss on a movies that took 150 million to make is their own fault. Is it the consumers fault if someone make something that is too expensive that not as many people want to purchase it as the producer would like.

Give it time, people go to movies because they are unable to do something as dramatic. In time we will be able to be in the movies and anyone the action stars. Then we will see Hollywood complain.

The lawsuits are just a harassment technique. They dont really want to go to court over these because the loss would be devistating. I read the other day they some millionare is taking this to court because they sued him for downloading some movie that he already owned on DVD. So I will have to see if that one goes to court or not.

TheJim says:

Why do people interested in computers always seem to have this mindset that the law is so easily tricked? Guess what, BS legal arguments don’t stand up in Court, and a jury or judge can see right through BS. Our judicial system isn’t some super nintendo game with a cheat code.

Trying to make weak arguments is like picking up a prostitute from the street and never mentioning money, but still picking her up, and then calling it “consentual sex” with a “gift” afterwards. It’s just not going to hold up in Court, you will go to jail.

What else wont stand up? An argument about a website that obviously is a portal to illegally download intellectual property.

Do you mean to tell me that if someone kept an index of all the best drug dealers in your area, and all they did was distribute their printed list, they shouldn’t be held responsible whatsoever?

What about someone who has a list of hitmen, financed by advertising on their printed list?

And also, about the argument about it not hurting anyone because it’s not a physical object, and they aren’t losing any depleteable supply… Come on, human time is valuable, depleteable, and is in limited supply.

CacheMan says:

Re: Re:

What about the google cache?

When a website gets hammered or goes down for maintenance, I can usually find a reasonable facsimile of that page in the google cache. That’s on google’s equipment right?

If the page itself is copyrighted, and google does not have express consent to reproduce/store/redistribute it, isn’t that outside any “fair use” clause? In that regard, I’d almost say they’re infringing more than a TorrentSpy type search engine site.

Also, what about their “view as HTML” option when linking to a PDF file. Some PDF’s are created with restrictions (can’t print, can’t copy/paste images or text from the PDF into Word, etc). Doesn’t their “view as HTML” converter SERIOUSLY violate the DMCA with regard to reverse engineering and disassembly?


Will says:

Re: Re:

ok then theJim, let’s assume that you are the manager of the sex offender database that publishes the pictures of sex offenders for a given area. Now let’s assume that someone navigates to your site and gets the picture of every sex offender in the area and then shoots them. Should you be brought up on first degree murder charges because you provided the identities of the a$$holes who got shot? After all, you knowingly provided a means for them to locate these people. You can’t use the excuse that you didn’t know that someone hated these people, obviously “someone” does. So, you facilitated a crime

jsnbase says:

These aren't legal arguments

“These search engine sites might not be breaking any law that exists, but you can’t be like “they’re just like google” because they’re targeting what they know to be illegal files with their search engine.”

Of course you can. What if they Torrentspy changed their page to show a bunch of random results along with their torrent results? Your argument seems to be that it’s okay for Google to return results linking to infringing torrents because they also return results linking to other things. That makes no sense. To use the same ridiculous analogies as everybody else (a la TheJim above me), this is like saying it’s ok to sell crack on the corner as long as you also sell cough drops.

Unless you can show a genuine legal difference between what Google does with the term “games torrent” and what TorrentSpy does with the same term (and by legal I mean actually codified in US law) you’re blowing smoke.

TheROCK says:

Saying TorrentSpy is different because their site is specific to torrent searches is complete BS. They index the sites same as google, but only the sites that deal with torrents, there are PURFECTLY legal torrents, of content that the owner is legally sharing, such as Linux distrobutions or apps they have written themselves, or iso images of photo cds etc….

Just because people CHOOSE to use the torrentspy site to look for other content, which they can also find the exact same content on Google, does NOT mean that you can or should hold Torrentspy responsible, if you think you legally can then you have to address Google.

But if they did, that would lead to internet search engine censorship, which then would cost Google money. If they arent the best and they filter content, people will just go to a better search engine.

Bottom line, they arent sueing Google because Google will take the case to court with just as many(if not more) expensive, smart lawyers. The point has been made that they are using bully tactics, they pick on they guy too small to fight back. Which is wrong, if they really think they have a LEGAL case against “search engines” they should go after the biggest one.

JT says:

The google comparison is probably being made so the judge can understand what is going on. Most judges have no idea what the difference is between file sharing and a search engine, and this is why RIAA lawyers can frame these engines as evil piracy tools. The (presumably smart) lawyer for spytorrent is trying to explain what the site does, which by the way appears to be legal under the Grokster decision.

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