Thursday, May 08, 2008

TorrentSpy Ordered To Pay $111 Million

U.S. District Judge Florence -Marie Cooper in Los Angeles, ruling in a case brought by the Motion Picture Association of America, said site operator Justin Bunnell and associates must pay the maximum $30,000 for "each of the 3,699 infringements shown."

From the Copyright Act:

"...the copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just."

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) said the judgment sends a strong message to copyright violators. “This substantial money judgment sends a strong message about the illegality of these sites,” said Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA. “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.”

The TorrentSpy site shut down in March, after it lost its case against the MPAA, saying the legal climate was too hostile to continue. TorrentSpy did not lose on the merits, but defaulted after it failed to produce internal records.

TorrentSpy's lawyers filed a document in court Monday saying Valence Media and its owners Justin Bunnell and Wes Park had sought bankruptcy protection in a United Kingdom court and requesting that the judgment be stayed.

No U.S. case has squarely addressed the legalities of BitTorrent tracking services, although this case and the case against Isohunt founder Gary Fung, which is nearing a resolution, will likely have strong impacts on future rulings.

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