Friday, May 09, 2008

TorrentSpy Lawyer Says "We Won't Pay $111 Million Court Order"

Just a day after a U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper ordered TorrentSpy to pay $111 million, one of the largest fines in copyright history, Ira Rothken the lawyer for the torrent-tracking search engine said the $111 million judgment won't get paid.

Nevis-based Valence Media, the owner of TorrentSpy, filed for bankruptcy protection in England last week "and has no appreciable assets," attorney Ira Rothken said. "This was a Hollywood publicity stunt."

TorrentSpy and the Motion Picture Association of America have been in an ongoing legal battle since last year when the MPAA sued the search engine in Los Angeles federal court. The suit accused the site of facilitating copyright infringement of Hollywood movies. The MPAA won a default judgment last year after TorrentSpy refused to turn over internal documents, and on Wednesday a federal judge levied the $111 million penalty and ordered the site never to return online.

"It certainly is not a lesson for other search engines to look at what the rules are as they relate to dot-torrent files," Rothken said. "There was no analysis of the copyright."

Elizabeth Kaltman, an MPAA spokeswoman, said "We will pursue enforcement of the judgment."

The legality of torrent-tracking services has never been litigated on the merits in the United States, said Charles Baker, a Houston IP lawyer who defended Grokster and is Limewire's attorney in a case accusing the peer-to-peer software maker of facilitating copyright infringement.

The MPAA, he said, wants "other torrent owners and operators to look at the $111 million figure and say, 'I'm getting out of the business.'"

The TorrentSpy case, Baker said, "is another example of the studios eating these guys to death. They haven't tried the merits of the case."

While the MPAA may be claiming victory it isn't the clear cut win they'd really like to see. Since the case was a default judgment it doesn't set much precedence for future cases. Had the case actually been heard and an actual ruling been made then they'd have further grounds for more cases.

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