MPAA Gets Win In TorrentSpy Copyright Lawsuit

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The MPAA had sued TorrentSpy, charging that the company had acted illegally by using peer-to-peer networking to copy and distribute movie and television show files, violating MPAA copyrights.

The MPAA also charged that TorrentSpy responded to the lawsuit by deleting and modifying postings on TorrentSpy forums that included references to copyright infringement. MPAA also alleged that TorrentSpy deleted directory headings that referenced copyrighted works and destroyed user IP addresses.

The judge agreed with the MPAA and took the extraordinary step of ending the lawsuit in favor of the MPAA. "The plaintiffs (MPAA) have convinced the Court that their ability to prove their case has been inalterably prejudiced by Defendants willful spoliation of evidence, making terminating sanctions the only effective recourse," wrote U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

"The defendant's conduct during discovery in this case has been obstreperous," the judge said. "They have engaged in widespread and systematic efforts to destroy evidence and have provided false testimony under oath in an effort to hide evidence of such destruction. Although termination of a case is a harsh sanction appropriate only in 'extraordinary circumstances,' the circumstances in this case are sufficiently extraordinary to merit such a sanction." The MPAA said the ruling is a victory in its fight against copyright infringement of its movies and television shows.

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"The court's decision is a significant victory for MPAA member companies and sends a potent message to future defendants that this egregious behavior will not be tolerated by the judicial system," John Malcom, executive vice president and director of worldwide anti-piracy operations for the MPAA, said in a statement. "The sole purpose of TorrentSpy and sites like it is to one-stop shop for copyright infringement and we will continue to aggressively enforce our member's rights to stop such infringement."

The lawyer representing said the ruling will be appealed. "This is not a ruling on the merits of the case," Rothken said. "This is a hyper technical ruling arising out of a discovery dispute concerning whether or not Torrent could retain and or turn over in discovery user IP addresses and user posts."

The judge will decide how to address damages in the lawsuit.