Site linking to copyright material sued €110m

12 May 2008

The crackdown against internet piracy in the US has got heavier as a judge ruled that portal site TorrentSpy must pay US$110 to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), following its failure to hand over logs of user activity.

While TorrentSpy did not in fact host or provide files containing copyright material, it did act as a gathering place to find other sites with this content as it tracked external sites and hosted a discussion forum on torrents or files that invariably contained copyright material.

As a result, the site was forced to shut down on 24 March 2008 following what the US court said was “widespread and systematic efforts to destroy evidence”. It also commented that TorrentSpy “provided false testimony under oath in an effort to hide evidence of such destruction”.

The hefty US$110m was arrived at after the court heard that 3,669 instances of copyright infringement could be proved. These infringements were estimated to be worth US$30,000 each in damages to the copyright holders.

One of the largest fines in the history of online copyright infringement, it is not known when the MPAA will receive the money as owners of TorrentSpy, Justin Bunnell and Wes Parker, have filed for bankruptcy.

Meanwhile, Napster founder Shawn Fanning may not have fared well when selling off his first company after it was converted from peer-to-peer file sharing haven to legal music store, but he has just sold his third business, a social networking site for gamers called Rupture, for US$30m.

By Marie Boran