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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 elrous0 (869638) * on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @10:16AM (#21751558)
    When the CIA destroys evidence [cnn.com] that they tortured prisoners, the entire Justice Department jumps to their defense and gives their director a medal. When a small company that just provides links to pirated movies destroys evidence to protect its users from the thugs at the MPAA, they're criminals and must be punished!
  • by TheMiddleRoad (1153113) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @10:28AM (#21751670)
    Perhaps a lawyer can tell us which has worse penalties, destruction of evidence or being found guilty of helping piracy. I imagine it's the latter.
  • by mi (197448) <slashdot-2014@virtual-estates.net> on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @10:30AM (#21751694) Homepage

    When the CIA destroys evidence that they tortured prisoners, the entire Justice Department ...

    The CIA's tapes were destroyed in 2005 — long before any investigations into "torture" came about. Thus it was not "destruction of evidence", but merely "destruction of tapes". CIA today does not deny, that they did use waterboarding, so it is not clear, what those tapes would be in evidence of.

    For it to be called "destruction of evidence", the destroyed materials must be important to an ongoing investigation/lawsuit... This is what TorrentSpy (unlike CIA, they did it to hide doing, what they now claim they have not done) has done, according to the judge, and your attempt to defend them on the basis of their being "a small company" is quite pathetic.

  • by IceCreamGuy (904648) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @10:39AM (#21751798) Homepage
    I've always wondered what I would do if I got a letter in the mail telling me I was being sued by the MPAA or RIAA (obviously not the same as a large site like torrentspy, but kinda related), 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. However, what to do with the offending data? I've always thought that if I DoD wiped all my disks, obviously that would leave no evidence, but could you actually get in trouble for doing that? Do they send you documents telling you that kind of thing is illegal? What if I just took out my data drives, hid them in the attic and cleaned out my logs and MRU data with Adaware? Is it really that hard to react to these kinds of things for the average consumer or am I missing a great deal?
  • evidence (Score:1, Interesting)

    by hyperstation (185147) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @10:54AM (#21751974)
    the lesson here is: don't create the evidence in the first place. disable the server log. why is that so hard?

    i know we're talking about an organization and not an individual here, but is there really anything morally wrong with destroying evidence to cover your ass? self-preservation trumps law.
  • by phobos13013 (813040) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @10:58AM (#21752024)
    Not familiar with TorrentSpy Admins, but I would imagine they did it to protect themselves from jail rather than a altruistic attempt to withhold your IP address from the MPAA. Its the cynic in me speaking....
  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @11:02AM (#21752084) Journal
    I'm sorry but a person's right to control their creations should not trump my right to use my property as I see fit.

    The difference between the GPL and regular use of copyright is that the GPL is intended to support the freedom of the individual to use his computer as he sees fit. There is absolutely no contradiction in supporting the GPL and calling for an abolition of copyright.
  • by Skreems (598317) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @11:09AM (#21752186) Homepage
    Except that the GPL is unenforceable without copyrights...
  • by Slashdot Parent (995749) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @11:09AM (#21752188)
    According to TFA, they actually did keep IP logs and had them when the discovery process started. It was only then that TorrentSpy decided to quit logging and delete old logs.

    I'm sorry, but that is destruction of evidence, and it is little wonder that they were sanctioned for it. TS left the judge no choice.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @11:30AM (#21752466) Journal

    I make a living from copyright. I am a writer, and the thing I sell is 'intellectual property.' In spite of this, I agree with the poster you quote. The ability to control my creations is not an intrinsic right. It is a bargain made with society. I agree to distribute my work and to permit certain uses of it under the banner of fair use, and society agrees, in return, to enforce my exclusivity.

    The problem with the *AA is that they are violating the spirit of this in a number of ways. Their insistence on DRM (including CSS on DVDs when backed by things like the DMCA) limits the fair use rights. Their refusal to distribute their media in a form that the market obviously wants (or, in some geographical locations, at all, or at least in a timely fashion) violates the first part of the agreement.

    I am not in favour of abolishing copyright completely. It is a nice bargaining chip to use. Without something equally simple, while I would still write I probably wouldn't publish my writings. Copyright, however, should be absolutely contingent on the creator (or their publisher) distributing their works. I would even advocate some form of compulsory licensing, so that people can distribute my work as much as they like (with or without my consent) and pay a royalty directly. Alternatively, I can wrap my works up in as much DRM as I like, but once someone cracks it then I lost it all because I don't get to claim copyright on works which don't allow fair use.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @11:51AM (#21752802)
    You "think", but you don't know, do you? Or, in otherwords, you haven't the slightest idea of what you're talking about.

    Prove me wrong. Provide the cases where this has been tested. The one's which match his situation.

    The EFF's lawyers are extremely confident about the legality of Tor. And running a Tor node isn't that much different than what the OP claims he's runnng. See the EFF's Tor FAQ page.

    Basically you're full of BS. Either put up or pipe down.
  • by JasterBobaMereel (1102861) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @12:33PM (#21753384)
    If you read the article properly you will find that the evidence they destroyed was never collected, they did not destroy it they just didn't save it in the first place ...

    Oh and this is not a US company so the MPAA and the US courts cannot order them to save information that is not required by European law ...?

    America the land of the free ... well freeish.... sort of
  • by Buran (150348) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @12:35PM (#21753414)
    Of course, then if you rule that forum admins can't clean discussion of illegal activity from their forums so that they don't get sued for what their users do, that means you're automatically screwed if you run a forum because you'll get sued if you don't clean it off, and sued if you do.

    I won't be surprised if I start seeing forums close left and right due to this.

    Moral: run a discussion forum, you'll get sued no matter what you do. Don't bother running a discussion forum.
  • by AvitarX (172628) <me@@@brandywinehundred...org> on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @01:14PM (#21753994) Journal
    Well this is the case where a judge ruled that information in RAM was a pertinant and they needed to keep a constant RAM dump to continue operating in the US (or a log of all US IPs).

    Perhaps dropping info out of RAM is the destruction.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @01:59PM (#21754560) Journal

    The Judge said that the IP's were available to TorrentSpy as the information was present in the RAM at some point. They required that TorrentSpy log that information.

    Which, if TorrentSpy were to be believed, would potentially require modification of the software. Merely because something "was present in the RAM at some point" doesn't imply that it's easy to log, otherwise DRM would be even more broken than it currently is.

    Now, of course, we've discovered that TorrentSpy were actually lying about this, but it doesn't change the fact that it was an unreasonable request by the judge, especially considering this is discovery. Are you really going to say that people should have to start gathering entirely new evidence to support discovery?

  • by FirstOne (193462) on Wednesday December 19, 2007 @09:59PM (#21760372) Homepage

    "The judge in this case was looking for a way to say the defendant was obligated to keep durable records of his misdeeds, practically to the point of tapping the memory bus. "

    The judges actions go even further.. He ordering TorrentSpy to eavesdrop on Foreign communications. A Criminal act, especially in the EU.. As a consequence TorrentSpy collected just enough information to prove that both the request and the torrent host were OUTSIDE the USA in which NO US court has any business collecting private data.

    Remember TorrentSpy stopped servicing US IP addresses when ordered to start collecting the data.

    "Torrentspy Acts to Protect Privacy" [torrentspy.com]

    Sorry, but because you are located in the USA you cannot use the search features of the Torrentspy.com website.Torrentspy's decision to stop accepting US visitors was NOT compelled by any Court but rather an uncertain legal climate in the US regarding user privacy and an apparent tension between US and European Union privacy laws.

    We hope you understand and will take the opportunity to visit one of these other fine websites:"

    Technically, if the federal judge proceeds to trial, he would be guilty of several serious crimes.
    Extortion, spying, acts of war, and privacy violations among the many countries that use the Internet.
    A suggestion to judge Cooper, I wouldn't go traveling outside the USA, unless you want to be locked up for a very long time.

    Meanwhile the MPAA just received a meaningless victory.
    No foreign court will honor any judgment against TorrentSpy that was based on it's refusal to follow court orders requiring the commission of a criminal act.
    Hopefully a significantly wiser circuit court will rule the Coopers actions where inappropriate,
    remove him from the case, and vacate all judgments. (Less they too want to wish to dispose of their passports as well.)

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