TorrentSpy Blocks Searches From US Visitors

Starting today, TorrentSpy blocks all searches from US visitors and redirects them to a privacy statement. TorrentSpy is caught up in a lawsuit in which the MPAA demands that TorrentSpy hands over all user info stored in "random access memory" (RAM).

This service denial seems to be a preventative measure to protect their users, when US users try to search on TorrentSpy they now get this message:

Sorry, but because you are located in the USA you cannot use the search features of the Torrentspy.com website.Torrentspy’s decision to stop accepting US visitors was NOT compelled by any Court but rather an uncertain legal climate in the US regarding user privacy and an apparent tension between US and European Union privacy laws.

The search redirect will be permanent, TorrentSpy owner Justin Bunnell told TorrentFreak: “We must comply with European Union privacy laws and turning off USA traffic was the only way to guarantee that protection for our users. It is not something with a time limit.”. Over 15% of TorrentSpy’s visitors are US residents, shutting them down for good will be a disaster for the site.

We also asked Justin how he thinks this will affect the future of TorrentSpy, and he responded: “Whatever future awaits, the innovations of peer-to-peer technology and the jobs and opportunities it creates will take place outside of the USA.”

TorrentSpy currently does not log any user data, but if the court decides that they have to hand over all information stored in RAM, this would be a huge blow to Internet privacy. The MPAA reasons that all IPs, downloaded .torrent files, dates and other user info are temporarily stored in RAM for a few milliseconds and demands that TorrentSpy logs this info and hands it over to the MPAA. Basically they are demanding that TorrentSpy should keep server logs (pdf link).

TorrentSpy lawyer Ira Rothken is determined to fight this but said in a statement about the case: “The odds favor the copyright owners, copyright law in this country is Draconian and dramatically skewed on the owner’s side”.

Everything TorrentSpy does also applies to other search engines according to the TorrentSpy defense. Last year, when the case started, Rothken said “It [TorrentSpy] cannot be held ‘tertiary’ liable for visitors’ conduct that occurs away from its web search engine”. TorrentSpy claims it did nothing illegal and suggested the MPAA should sue Google.

To be continued…

Update: A federal judge ruled that TorrentSpy must log all data stored in RAM, this is why TorrentSpy blocked the searches.

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