Judge slaps TorrentSpy with $111M damages

Motion Picture Association of America wins $111 million from TorrentSpy

A US judge has ruled on a nearly US$111 million copyright-infringement decision against TorrentSpy.com, the BitTorrent peer-to-peer search site.

Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, of the US District Court for the Central District of California in Los Angeles awarded the judgment to the Motion Picture Association of America, the MPAA announced late Wednesday. Cooper entered a default judgment against the operators of TorrentSpy in December, saying they had destroyed evidence related to an MPAA lawsuit against them.

Last May, another judge ordered TorrentSpy to keep server logs, user IP (Internet Protocol) addresses and other information in support of the MPAA's lawsuit against the site. Cooper ruled in December that TorrentSpy had ignored that order.

Valence Media, the company operating TorrentSpy, shut down the site in March. The company, based in the Caribbean, has filed for bankruptcy.

Cooper issued a permanent injunction prohibiting the company from further infringing any of the studios' copyrights. The judgment, of US$30,000 per infringement, was for willful inducement of copyright infringement, contributory infringement and vicarious copyright infringement, the MPAA said.

"This substantial money judgment sends a strong message about the illegality of these sites," Dan Glickman, the MPAA's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "The demise of TorrentSpy is a clear victory for the studios and demonstrates that such pirate sites will not be allowed to continue to operate without facing relentless litigation by copyright holders."

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