TorrentSpy Ordered By Federal Judge to Become MPAA Spy

TorrentSpy, one of the world's largest torrent dump sites, has been ordered by a federal judge to monitor its users in order to create detailed logs of their activities which must then be handed over to the MPAA.

According to CNET News.com. federal judge Jacqueline Chooljian requested that Torrentspy (what’s in a name) must start creating logs detailing their user’s activities. This, despite the site’s privacy policy which states they will never monitor their visitors without consent.

Understandably, this is a worrying move by the court – even more so when one considers these logs must then be turned over to the MPAA. This is believed to be the first time a judge has ordered a defendant to log visitor activity and then hand over the information to the plaintiff. The decision – arrived at last month but under seal – could force sites that are defendants in a law suit to track the actions of their visitors.

The owners have been granted a stay of the order in order to make an appeal, which must be filed by June 12, says Ira Rothken, TorrentSpy’s attorney.

“It is likely that TorrentSpy would turn off access to the U.S. before tracking its users,” said Rothken. “If this order were allowed to stand, it would mean that Web sites can be required by discovery judges to track what their users do even if their privacy policy says otherwise.”

This action follows MPAA action in 2006 against several BitTorrent sites, TorrentSpy included. According to the MPAA, Torrentspy helps others commit copyright infringement by directing people to sites which enable them to download copyright material, an offense claims the MPAA, of secondary copyright infringement.

At the time, 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.

An attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation referred to the order to demand a defendant log visitor activity and then hand over the information to the plaintiff as “unprecedented.” He continued “In general, a defendant is not required to create new records to hand over in discovery. We shouldn’t let Web site logging policies be set by litigation”

One way or another, it seems that the MPAA is determined to obtain information about TorrentSpy and its users. A complaint issued by TorrentSpy suggests the MPAA paid a hacker $15,000 to steal e-mail correspondence and trade secrets. The hacker admitted that this was true.

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