2024-06-17 01:34:44
TorrentSpy Won’t Pay $111 Million Court Order, Lawyer Says legislation

Threat Level from Wired.com

A day after a U.S. judge dinged TorrentSpy with one of the largest fines in copyright history, the lawyer for the torrent-tracking search engine said Thursday the $111 million judgment won’t get paid.

Nevis-based Valence Media, the owner of TorrentSpy, filed for bankruptcy protection in England last week “and has no appreciable assets,” attorney Ira Rothken said. “This was a Hollywood publicity stunt.”

The Motion Picture Association of America sued the search engine in Los Angeles federal court, alleging the site facilitated copyright infringement of Hollywood movies. The MPAA won a default judgment last year after TorrentSpy refused to turn over internal documents, and a federal judge levied the $111 million penalty and ordered the site never to return online.

“It certainly is not a lesson for other search engines to look at what the rules are as they relate to dot-torrent files,” Rothken said. “There was no analysis of the copyright.”

Elizabeth Kaltman, an MPAA spokeswoman, said “We will pursue enforcement of the judgment.”

The legality of torrent-tracking services has never been litigated on the merits in the United States, said Charles Baker, a Houston IP lawyer who defended Grokster and is Limewire’s attorney in a case accusing the peer-to-peer software maker of facilitating copyright infringement.

The MPAA, he said, wants “other torrent owners and operators to look at the $111 million figure and say, ‘I’m getting out of the business.'”

The TorrentSpy case, Baker said, “is another example of the studios eating these guys to death. They haven’t tried the merits of the case.”

Gary Fung, the operator and founder of tracking service Isohunt, said the TorrentSpy decision worries him, but he’s not going to cave to Hollywood.

“I’m worried,” he said. “I wouldn’t be able to pay something like a $100 million. I fully know the risk I’m taking.”

The United States’ largest copyright fine, $115 million, was against the Kazaa file sharing service two years ago.

The MPAA’s case against Fung is pending in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, a case that is likely to set legal precedent in the United States and perhaps abroad on the legalities of torrent-tracking services that the MPAA claims facilitate wanton copyright infringement.

The TorrentSpy penalty is being appealed to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, Rothken said. He has already appealed last year’s default judgment in the case that allegedly was built on the back of a hacker who was paid $15,000 to obtain private e-mail and financial information. Both sides are briefing that case.

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