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Judge rules against TorrentSpy

by on29 August 2007

Image shuts down access to users in U.S.,
a BitTorrent search engine, shut down access to its Web site for U.S. visitors on Monday, as a precursor to the decision rendered on Tuesday by the U.S. District Court Judge in the case brought against it last year by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).  Although TorrentSpy’s servers are located in The Netherlands, the company said it was blocking U.S. user access as a precautionary step. The MPAA filed a civil action last year against TorrentSpy, claiming that TorrentSpy had violated the proprietary rights of film studios with its file sharing service.

TorrentSpy counterclaimed that the MPAA had violated the U.S. Federal Wiretap Act by illegally obtaining private E-mails from TorrentSpy executives.  The MPAA acknowledged to the court that it had, in fact, paid $15,000 to obtain the E-mails from a third party, but argued that the third party had obtained the E-mails from had already obtained the 30-odd pages of E-mails before he approached the MPAA with an offer to sell the information, and that he had also signed an agreement stating that the E-mails had been obtained legally. In fact, the E-mails were obtained by the third party’s hacking into TorrentSpy’s E-mail system and rerouting copies of the E-mails to his Google E-mail account.

The Judge ruled that MPAA had not violated the Federal Wiretap Act and that the TorrentSpy E-mails did not constitute trade secrets. This ruling is quite disturbing and seems somewhat hypocritical on the MPAA’s part. MPAA has been parading as the “good guys” who are out to stop illegal file sharing of pirated movies and to protect copyright interests, and yet they have admitted in a court of law that they paid an informant $15,000 to obtain private company E-mails from a company they were litigating against, which certainly does not sound ethical to us. If this is an acceptable way for the guys in the “white hats” to behave, then something has gone very wrong in Dodge City and we think the Sheriff needs to be replaced.

TorrentSpy indicated that they would appeal the Judge’s recent ruling in favor of MPAA on the Wiretap Act issue.

Last modified on 29 August 2007
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