The major studios have won a legal bout against TorrentSpy.com, with a Los Angeles federal judge dropping a case against the search engine and declaring that it’s in clear violation of copyright laws.
In her ruling U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie Cooper essentially threw out TorrentSpy’s countersuit against the Motion Picture Assn. of America and held TorrentSpy liable for copyright infringement without a trial.
That decision was made after Cooper declared that TorrentSpy had destroyed evidence in connection with the MPAA suit, and as such made a fair trial impossible.
“They have engaged in widespread and systematic efforts to destroy evidence and have provided false testimony under oath in an effort to hide evidence of such destruction,” she said in her Dec. 13 decision. “Although termination of a case is a harsh sanction appropriate only in ‘extraordinary circumstances’ … the circumstances in this case are sufficiently extraordinary to merit such a sanction.”
Destroyed evidence included forum postings referring to copyright infringement; site directories and subcategories that clearly listed pirated material; and user IP addresses, according to the ruling.
A final judgment will be made once the studios demonstrate how much revenue they may have lost from TorrentSpy’s operation.
Judge’s order comes after the MPAA sued a group of online directories that it said contribute to the theft of movies, music and games — and allow file sharers the chance to find copyrighted works to download for free — but don’t actually distribute the files.
The list also includes IsoHunt, BTHub.com, TorrentBox.com, NiteShadow.com, Ed2k-It.com, NZB-Zone.com, BinNews.com and DVDRs.net.
TorrentSpy earlier saw a lawsuit it brought against the MPAA dismissed. In that cause it contended that the MPAA had hired a hacker to gather evidence for its case.
The MPAA says the worldwide motion picture industry loses more than $7 billion in potential revenue to illegal Internet distribution, while an additional $11 billion is lost to illegal copying and bootlegging.
“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,” said John Malcolm, exec VP and director of worldwide antipiracy operations for the MPAA. “The sole purpose of TorrentSpy and sites like it is to facilitate and promote the unlawful dissemination of copyrighted content.”
TorrentSpy said it will appeal the ruling.