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Judge Rules TorrentSpy Destroyed Evidence 325

Posted by Soulskill
from the slowing-sinking-ships dept.
Come play kdice writes "A federal judge has handed the MPAA a resounding victory in its copyright infringement lawsuit against TorrentSpy. Judge Florence-Marie Cooper entered a default judgment against Justin Bunnell and the rest of the named defendants in Columbia Pictures et al. v. Justin Bunnell et al. after finding that TorrentSpy 'engaged in widespread and systematic efforts to destroy evidence'. After being sued, TorrentSpy mounted a vigorous defense, including a counter-suit it filed against the MPAA in May 2006, but, behind the scenes, the court documents paint a picture of a company desperately trying to bury any and all incriminating evidence. TorrentSpy has announced its intention to appeal, but its conduct makes a reversal unlikely."
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Judge Rules TorrentSpy Destroyed Evidence

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  • by gclef (96311) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @11:33AM (#21751724)
    No, they were ordered to log the IP addresses of their users. TorrentSpy tried to argue that they didn't have the logs, and that the IPs only existed in RAM, so logging them wasn't possible. They then got caught showing that they did have user's IPs, and they could have provided them.

    In short, TorrentSpy lied to a judge, and they got caught. That was remarkably stupid, and they're being punished for it.
  • by schnikies79 (788746) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @11:35AM (#21751750)
    They destroyed and changed IP logs. They went thread-by-thread on their forums and hand changed posts. They deleted whole threads and hid others.

    Obviously deliberate.
  • by terrymr (316118) <terrymr.gmail@com> on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @11:43AM (#21751838)
    The point is this ... discovery orders only go as far as records you currently have ... you cannot be ordered to create new records for the purposes of discovery. Therefore I don't think i mischaracterized the order to preserve ram - which is the only way to do what the judge ordered without forcing the creation of new records which isn't authorized by law.
  • by Seakip18 (1106315) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @11:48AM (#21751912) Journal
    This is the same judge who decided information stored in RAM is easy to document and filter.

    Since that topic has been expounded upon, here are some articles about the judge in the case:

    1. Judge dismisses trial for prosecutor's misconduct [washingtonpost.com]
    Here, she dismissed a case when the prosecutors offered a plea agreement to a witness so he could not testify for the defense.

    2. Notorious BIG Trial mistrial declared [sohh.com]
    In this instance, she declared a mistrial when LAPD was withholding evidence from the trial.

    3. Pooh Trial Thrown out [suite101.com] (heh heh)
    A trial involving the Winnie the Pooh was ruled in favor of Disney after the family was found to have "tampered" with files at Disney.

    The judge has a love for evidence. Torrentspy shoulda known what would happen if they messed around with it.
  • No IP logs, indeed (Score:3, Informative)

    by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @12:13PM (#21752244)

    There were no IP logs
    From TFA:

    TorrentSpy also failed to provide the MPAA with full IP addresses of its users, testifying under oath that they were not available. Conversations on the forums between the moderators paint a different picture, however. A March 2006 conversation between a couple of moderators showed that users could be banned by IP address, and moderators testified that full IP addresses were logged until April 2007.
    Care to revise that "no IP logs" statement? Or are you still arguing for the sake of arguing?
  • by Etrias (1121031) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @12:36PM (#21752550)
    You really should pay attention more. In fact, here's a little primer from someone who should know the music business: David Byrne [wired.com] talks record companies and the current forms of control and distribution. It's a fascinating read.

    Please pay special attention to how much the artist cut is in traditional CD sales compared to the new digital distribution. You will find a huge disparity in what record companies are claiming and what is actually happening.

    I don't think TorrentSpy will get much sympathy from /. at all, however your current thoughts of how the business of music is run is, I fear, off base. A great many artists have few rights to their own songs which instead are owned, by and large, by the record companies who are looking for new ways to squeeze blood from a stone.
  • by inviolet (797804) <slashdot AT ideasmatter DOT org> on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @01:59PM (#21753778) Journal

    we keep our wireless router open, default passwords, broadcast ssid, no encryption, 50 leases, no MAC filtering, nothing. I know it sounds bad, but we figure that if we ever got a notice from one of these organizations that we could simply say that there's no way to know who downloaded these things, our wireless is open! We have neighbors and other people in our DHCP client list and it actually makes me feel more secure (I manage my actual security at my computer, not at the gateway) since I feel like it would make for a good defense.

    You can add a second wireless router, locked down, cascaded through the open router. Your own machines (i.e. your own home network) can then remain secure, yet your internet connection is still anonymously shared. Details here [custhelp.com].

  • by FredFredrickson (1177871) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @03:16PM (#21754790) Homepage Journal

    Care to revise that "no IP logs" statement? Or are you still arguing for the sake of arguing?
    Oh gawd please. Most forum scripts keep IP logs of comments posted. Does that mean the entire site keeps logs of every visitor? No. Does that mean apache is holding on to gigs and gigs of traffic data? Probably, but definitely throwing out useless information to conserve some amount of space.

    It's true, visiting a site means sending them your IP address momentarily so they can send you information. Some sites log that. My own site keeps the last 50 visitor's IP addresses. After that it discards them. Does that mean my forum doesn't have IP addresses? No. My forum keeps IP addresses, but I certainly couldn't link any activity on the forum to activity in other places on my site just using apache's logs unless I kept more than the latest 50 users on logs. And that would double my log files size in a day! I can't afford that. I don't get nearly the traffic they do. D'ah.
  • by LrdDimwit (1133419) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @03:32PM (#21754948)
    I tried to track down the original ruling and was unsuccessful. However according to TFA, the judge found that no less than all of the following happened (roughly in this order):

    1: TorrentSpy forums openly discuss infringement
    2: MPAA files lawsuit
    3: Wes Parker (TorrentSpy moderator, admin, it's not quite clear) says 'we need a plan to keep piracy off the forums'
    4: Another moderator suggests creating a hidden forum and moving incriminating content there. Wes agrees.

    5: Some time later, they begin editing forum posts -- retroactively -- to scrub incriminating parts of the posts.
    That is to say, they didn't decide to *stop* the activity. They actively took steps to conceal it, *after* they learned about the suit, and then they actually destroyed (by censoring) the information. There's not a court anywhere in the whole country -- the whole world -- that's going to look on that as anything other than tampering with evidence. And then there's this brilliant exchange:

    1: TorrentSpy testifies in court that IP information simply wasn't available
    2: MPAA finds evidence TorrentSpy can implement and enforce bans of users by IP address
    3: Under oath, a TorrentSpy moderator testifies IPs were logged until April 07 (more than a year after they were sued)

    So they said they couldn't get IP addresses at all, no matter what, they simply didn't keep them. The judge ruled that they were lying through their teeth. According to the article, they did have IP addresses -- except conveniently when they were supposed to produce them in court -- and they had been logging them for a year after they were sued. Everything makes sense now: I was wondering why the ruling from the judge directed them to start keeping logs happened. It happened because TorrentSpy tried to snow job the court. Courts really don't like it when you do that.
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @04:22PM (#21755710)

    1: TorrentSpy testifies in court that IP information [FOR TORRENT TRACKING SOFTWARE] simply wasn't available
    2: MPAA finds evidence TorrentSpy can implement and enforce bans of users by IP address [ON INTERNET FORUMS, NOT TRACKING SOFTWARE]
    3: Under oath, a TorrentSpy moderator testifies IPs were logged [FOR FORUM SOFTWARE] until April 07 (more than a year after they were sued)

    Fixed that for you. phpBB =/= bittorrent tracker, and no, you can't assume someone who visits the forums downloaded something illegally... MPAA apparently visited the forums...

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.

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