TorrentSpy operator ordered to pay $111 million in damages


— 2:44 PM on May 8, 2008

Serving up links to BitTorrent downloads of copyrighted material doesn't pay. According to the Associated Press, a Los Angeles, California court has found in favor of six major Hollywood movie studios in a case versus pirate website TorrentSpy.com. As part of the judgment, former TorrentSpy.com operator Valence Media will have to pay a hefty $111 million in damages to the plaintiffs—that's $30,000 for each one of 3,700 or so torrents for movies and TV shows to which the site linked.

Valence Media has been embroiled in legal troubles since February 2006, when the Motion Picture Association of America filed its initial copyright infringement lawsuit. The following year, News.com reported that the federal judge overseeing the case had "ruled against the BitTorrent indexing service TorrentSpy.com saying that its hiding and destruction of evidence made a fair trial impossible." TorrentSpy.com went down on March 24, and a notice on the now-empty site reads:

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.

The AP says Valence Media's lawyers have filed a document in court asking for the judgement to be stayed. The lawyers claim the company is seeking bankruptcy protection in the United Kingdom.

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