TorrentSpy ops liable for copyright fraud


MUMBAI: In a significant victory for the major Hollywood studios, a federal judge in Los Angeles has terminated an ongoing lawsuit against the operators of in favor of all six of the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) member companies. TorrentSpy, one of the world’s most notorious pirate websites, blatantly contributes to, profits from and induces massive infringement of copyrighted content including movies, music and games. The court imposed the harshest sanction against the TorrentSpy defendants because of their brazen, continuous, and systematic destruction of evidence and subversion of the judicial process. The ruling means that TorrentSpy operators are liable for copyright infringement.


MPAA, Executive Vice President and Director of Worldwide Anti-Piracy Operations, John Malcolm said, “The court’s decision is a significant victory for MPAA member companies and sends a potent message to future defendants that this egregious behavior will not be tolerated by the judicial system. The court clearly recognized that defendants engaged in evidence destruction because they knew that such evidence would prove damaging to them. The sole purpose of TorrentSpy and sites like it is to facilitate and promote the unlawful dissemination of copyrighted content. TorrentSpy is a one-stop shop for copyright infringement and we will continue to aggressively enforce our members’ rights to stop such infringement.”


In its decision, the court ruled that “although termination of a case is a harsh sanction appropriate only in extraordinary circumstance, the circumstances of this case are sufficiently extraordinary to merit such a sanction.” The court found that the evidence was “not deleted or modified negligently, but intentionally in direct response to the institution of this lawsuit.” Observing that defendants “already had been subjected to lesser sanctions in this case”, including a fine for $30,000 for violation of a court order, the court concluded that the “harsh sanction” of terminating the defendants’ case was the only appropriate remedy.


The evidence defendants destroyed included forum postings with references to copyright infringement and other incriminating statements; site directories referencing copyrighted works and subcategories clearly referring to pirated content; and user IP addresses.


The worldwide motion picture industry, including foreign and domestic producers, distributors, theaters, video stores and pay-per-view operators lose more than $18 billion annually as a result of movie theft. More than $7 billion in losses are attributed to illegal Internet distributions, while $11 billion is the result of illegal copying and bootlegging.