MPAA demanded that the site log user data

Hugely popular pirated content search engine TorrentSpy has shut out U.S. users to avoid complying with a court order that it must log information about its users.

TorrentSpy is a search engine for “torrents,” large files distributed via peer-to-peer networks that are often pirated video files.

Netco’s attorney Ira Rothken said that TorrentSpy has a strict privacy policy that it will not record any information about its users. However, as part of a lawsuit filed against it last year, the Motion Picture Assn. of America has demanded that the site log data on some of its users and hand it over for use in potential legal action against pirates.

A judge’s decision ordering TorrentSpy to start compiling the information was stayed on appeal, but that appeal was denied Monday. TorrentSpy shut out American users just before the order was received in order to avoid complying.

“This move was designed to preserve the integrity of the site and continue its promise not to log any users,” said Rothken, who added that the vast majority of the site’s users come from outside the U.S.

TorrentSpy plans to appeal the latest decision to a federal appeals court.

Netco last year filed its own lawsuit against the MPAA alleging that it illegally paid a hacker to turn over private information about the site. After an initial decision against it, TorrentSpy is appealing that case as well to resolve a dispute over whether wiretapping laws apply to hacking.

An MPAA rep said that TorrentSpy’s decision to block American Web surfers won’t change the org’s legal crusade to shut it down.

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