by Mike Masnick
Tue, Dec 18th 2007 5:52pm
TorrentSpy has lost the first round of its case against the MPAA, but the details suggest that it's for all the wrong reasons. TorrentSpy, of course, is like many other torrent trackers: it's a search engine. While the MPAA went after TorrentSpy claiming that it was violating copyright laws like Grokster/Morpheus, TorrentSpy pointed out (correctly) that the Supreme Court only said that service providers who actively encourage copyright infringement can be held liable. Instead, TorrentSpy noted, it was a search engine, just like Google -- which is quite accurate. However, the court seemed to have difficulty understanding this -- and when the court ordered TorrentSpy to spy on its users (against TorrentSpy's own terms of service), the company instead chose to cut off US users. This seemed quite admirable and reasonable. It was, in fact, a lot more admirable than the MPAA, who hired someone to hack into TorrentSpy's servers and pass on internal emails. However, it appears that TorrentSpy's decision to not spy on its users and to block access to US users is part of what caused it to lose the case. The ruling isn't on the merits of the actual copyright claim, but on the claim that TorrentSpy destroyed evidence -- such as the IP addresses of its users. There does appear to be some additional egregious destruction of evidence from TorrentSpy beyond just the IP addresses of users -- which was incredibly stupid for the company. That certainly hurt the company's position. However, that does not address the merits of the original lawsuit. The MPAA, of course, is claiming this is a huge win, but that's just its usual press release quote and has little to connect it to reality: which is that the MPAA won this case on a technicality rather than the merits. TorrentSpy plans to appeal, so this is hardly over -- but the destruction of evidence will hurt the rest of TorrentSpy's position, no matter how reasonable it may have been.
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