Beleaguered BitTorrent search engine shuts down

TorrentSpy, the search engine for the BitTorrent file-sharing service, shuts down

Expensive legal battles have caused TorrentSpy, the search engine for the BitTorrent file-sharing service, to shut down.

A note on the home page of TorrentSpy's Web site said it is shutting down "not due to any court order or agreement," but because of a team decision.

TorrentSpy has spent the past two years and hundreds of thousands of dollars "defending the rights of our users and ourselves" in a legal climate that was "hostile" to torrent files, according to the note, which is attributed to the TorrentSpy team.

"Ultimately the Court demanded actions that in our view were inconsistent with our privacy policy, traditional court rules, and International law; therefore, we now feel compelled to provide the ultimate method of privacy protection for our users -- permanent shutdown," the team said.

TorrentSpy was a search engine that helped visitors find torrent files on the Web. Torrent files are often music or movie files stored in an easily shared file format. The search engine came under legal fire from the entertainment industry, which in general does not want licensed content to be distributed royalty-free.

In December, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) won a copyright infringement case against TorrentSpy that it had filed in 2006. TorrentSpy argued that its site doesn't contain any copyrighted works or links to copyrighted works, does not promote copyright infringement and can't be held liable for the actions of visitors once they leave its Web site. The site lost its case because the court ruled it had tampered with evidence.

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Elizabeth Montalbano

IDG News Service

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