Court Orders TorrentSpy To Pay $110 Million To MPAA

from the don't-destroy-evidence dept

Just as IsoHunt is gearing up to fight its MPAA lawsuit, a judge has ordered TorrentSpy to pay $110 million to the MPAA in a similar lawsuit. However, despite the MPAA’s Dan Glickman giving the expected “this is a warning to other such sites” quote, this actually shouldn’t have much of an impact on other such cases — as the details are somewhat different here. The problem with TorrentSpy’s case was that the company was found to have destroyed evidence, which resulted in the ruling. It had little to do with the actual issues at hand. And, yes, while the “destroyed evidence” claim was somewhat exaggerated when the judge included TorrentSpy’s refusal to spy on its users, the destruction of evidence went further than just not spying on users. The company was found to have deleted specific evidence, including forum posts and directory info. So, unless all the other torrent search engines out there also deleted evidence, it’s hard to see how this case acts as a warning to anyone over anything other than the stupidity of destroying evidence. As for getting any money, given that TorrentSpy has shut down, the MPAA probably won’t be getting any money — not that they’d be giving it to moviemakers anyway.

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Companies: mpaa, torrentspy

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Comments on “Court Orders TorrentSpy To Pay $110 Million To MPAA”

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MLS (profile) says:

Re: where does it go?

In all likelihood it will go nowhere since it is highly doubtful that any of the damage award will ever be recovered from Valence based upon my understanding that the company has declared bankruptcy.

Let’s be honest. The whole purpose of P2P has been perverted by those who view it as a means to get something for nothing. Please do not get me wrong. I am sure that P2P is used for purposes that do not involve software and entertainment media protected under domestic and international copyright law. Unfortunately, at this point in time these uses seem to be in the distinct minority.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: where does it go?

Statistics please. Also, cite sources.

Off the top of my head:
1) Nearly all if not all Linux Distros
2) World of Warcraft game updates
3) Universities use it to share files between professors, and between professors and students
4) numerous free to download and use programs are available via P2P (from CutePDF Writer to Mozilla Firefox)

Don’t get me wrong, a LOT of people use it to get music etc. Hell, I used it to get music. A lot faster than ripping all my CDs after a reformat (between Slayer and Metallica that’s about 250 tracks or so on several dozen CDs).

Took me an hour to download all the albums I *do* own (come to me RIAA, I have the CD’s in their jewel cases right next to my computer tower on a nice set of disc racks).

Digression aside (sorry) more people use non-torrent forms of P2P to download music/movies than bit torrent. AFAIK Kazaa and eMule are P2P but not BitTorrent protocol using applications.

Saying the purpose of P2P has been perverted is like saying the Internet was perverted because of all the porn. While that could be right if taken in a certain light, the truth is it hasn’t been.

Porn is content whether the bible thumpers want it to be or not, and the Internet distributes it equally.

No matter what though it all comes back to the same thing. BitTorrent is a protocol, and as much as the RIAA/MPAA love to propagandize that its ‘illegal’ it quite frankly is not. No matter if you CAN use it ‘illegally’.

You can use Google to find BitTorrent trackers just as well as TorrentSpy. All it does is point you in the right direction. YOU still have to go do it. Just because they are “making available” doesn’t mean they are actually infringing, and if TorrentSPy hadn’t been retarded enough to destroy evidence they could have pushed the RIAA’s legal theory (which isn’t working out against individuals) against them.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: where does it go?

Let’s be honest. The whole purpose of photo copiers have been perverted by those who view it as a means to get something for nothing. Please do not get me wrong. I am sure that photo copiers are used for other purposes. Unfortunately, at this point in time these uses seem to be in the distinct minority.

Nunya says:


I am so sick of all this “copyright infringement” BS. Why is it, that in the 80’s, when cassette players were all that, you could record music, share it, and there was not anyone “blah blah’ing” about pirating and all that other crap? Now (within the last 10 or more years)it is just a reason for lawyers and companies to get rich. It seems there is a violation of our rights somewhere. And ordering them to SPY on the users? Umm, it takes a hard-to-get court order to spy on phone conversations (at least over landlines) and what makes it any different for the internet?
Ok, so maybe I am just going off, I am just sick of RIAA & MPAA’s crying. Someone should spy on them, and sue them for being crooked and not paying the supposed “infringed” people.

Tony (user link) says:

Re: Seriously!...

“Why is it, that in the 80’s, when cassette players were all that, you could record music, share it, and there was not anyone “blah blah’ing” about pirating and all that other crap?”

Your age is showing. There WAS. And there was a similar outcry by the MPAA & company when VCR’s hit the market, too.

And, FYI, copying cassettes and distributing them to others is copyright infringement, and has been prosecuted as such. It’s just that it is much harder to trace the college student distributing cassettes at school than the student uploading files from his dorm room.

The RIAA & MPAA have to deal with new technology – which they’re not. But we gain nothing by denying or ignoring the facts of the past.

Kent says:


I get Techdirt feeds on my homepage and I think that allows me to see nearly every RIAA or MPAA suit covered on here. It’s just getting ridiculous now, they haven’t prevented any piracy except MAYBE from the individuals they’ve sued, and even then, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if those people went back to pirating music eventually. Like someone mentioned, its just a vicious cycle, proceeds from the lawsuits go back to the organizations’ pocket books and pay more attorneys to sue for unjust dollars of supposed damages using very shady legal practices.

RIAA and MPAA, $*#@ off!

Just Me says:


“Why is it, that in the 80’s, when cassette players were all that, you could record music, share it, and there was not anyone “blah blah’ing” about pirating and all that other crap?”

I think the key difference here is enforcement. The record companies *did* complain about cassettes and, later, CD-R’s (we actually have had a tariff here in Canada for years).

The difference is that you can’t tell if a 14 year old is taping off the radio to a cassette. If you dl via BitTorrent then you may leave footprints.

Not taking sides, just wanted to point that out.

MLS (profile) says:

Re: Hmmm

In any litigation under copyright law a plaintiff is entitled to either damages actually sustained or monetary amounts specified by statute (so-called statutory or in lieu damages).

As a general rule, a judge has discretion to award statutory damages in an amount between $750 and $30,000 for each infringing act. Given the defendant’s conduct the judge opted for the highest amount, which when multiplied against the number of infringements shown to date resulted in the $110+ award.

Anonymous Coward says:

Having CDs and using p2p

I don’t know ’bout the US, but AFAIK, due to seeding, using p2p is illegal even if you own the material. I’ve heared of people who were convicted even though they owned the content.

IMO, there is no doubt that copyright protection has become insane. Everyone can be sued for anything with any punishment. Some people sell copies, even using PayPal and the likes, and the case is ignored. (Happened to a friend of mine.) On the other hand, a 5 year old uses p2p and the parents get sued for 5000€.

Don’t even try to suggest that the situation is not insane.

I believe in a liberal net and control when it enters RL. Copying copyrighted data is something many people do, often it doesn’t even reduce the amount of money they spend on a company/artist/whatever, a disproportional punishment is out of place. SELLING stolen data, or profiting from it, on the other hand, is a crime and should be treated as such.

(BTW: Thus, I am VERY angry at PayPal right now. With what they did in this case, they directly support criminals and should pay for what they did. This seems to be common for PayPal, so maybe taking them down would be more justified than taking down TorrentSpy, which gathered incomparably less money per stolen data.)

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