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MPAA is Awarded $110 Million In TorrentSpy Case 523

An anonymous reader writes "The MPAA was awarded a staggering judgment in its case against the BitTorrent indexing site TorrentSpy. According to, a judge in California rendered a $110 million victory for the MPAA, and a permanent injunction against TorrentSpy."
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MPAA is Awarded $110 Million In TorrentSpy Case

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  • by Pres. Ronald Reagan ( 659566 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:20PM (#23331870)
    If only there were other sites to use. Oh well, BitTorrent was good while it lasted.
  • Congrats MPAA... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:20PM (#23331874)
    You won $110 million from a site that doesn't even exist anymore.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:40PM (#23332058)
      Internet Money FTW!
    • by gnutoo ( 1154137 ) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:40PM (#23332530) Journal

      You can't do business in the US because there is no free press there. It's the Napster case all over again and the courts have learned nothing in the last decade. Their lust to protect what they perceive as a big US business interest has them reaching these absurd rulings for tenuous secondary encouragement of copyright infringement. The fact that it's impossible for anyone to tell who "owns" a digital file is reason to rethink copyright not destroy people's ability to share things they have every right to share. Decisions like this will leave the US a broadcast backwater in a world that's bursting with free culture.

    • Re:Congrats MPAA... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:03PM (#23332680)
      So they just absorbed any liability I have for infringement for using their site. If 4 people rob me, and steal $100, can I get verdicts against *each* of them for $100?
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by piojo ( 995934 )
        Yes. That's typical, in the US legal system. For example, if a patent is infringed upon, the owner of the patent can sue the the inventer/owner, the manufacturer, and the organization that is selling the infringing product.

        (At least, this is my impression, and I don't remember where I heard or read this.)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rockoon ( 1252108 )
      Corporation: An ingenious device for obtaining individual profit without individual responsibility.
      -- Ambrose Bierce (Also, quoted in a Civ4 soundbite by Leonard Nimoy)
  • LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by afxgrin ( 208686 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:21PM (#23331876)
    What're they going to do? Confiscate their pencils and sell them on eBay for 5 cents?

    I'm sure the defendants have no where near $110 million, and if they have to keep paying it out of income they receive in the future, what's the point of even working?

    Might as well squat an abandoned building in New Orleans instead. Move to some remote wilderness area and live off the land. Sounds like much better options than paying that kind of debt down.
    • Re:LOL (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:16PM (#23332360)
      And the $110,000,000 is just for infringements on movies belonging to 5 MPAA members.

      Wait until the lawsuits roll in from every other movie studio, tv producer, music studio and porn maker that they held torrents for. They're going to end up owing more than the GDP of the world as a whole.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by LrdDimwit ( 1133419 )
        No, they won't. From a cost/benefit point of view, there's no point in getting an eight or nine figure judgement from someone who's already under one and hasn't got any money to pay THAT one. You'd be throwing bad money after good: your firm would personally be spending a huge amount on legal costs, only to get a worthless judgement (worthless because they will have already been picked clean by the people who won the first time). No, that would only happen if something ridiculous were to transpire (like
    • Re:LOL (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:48PM (#23332588)
      If he tries to move into the wilderness to live off the land, the MPAA will follow him and send an accountant to keep track of the value of each handful of berries and mushrooms in $USD, two security guards, a lackey for the accountant with a clipboard, a fifth guy trained to take the guy's stash of food and leave little sticky notes informing him of how much debt he's paid off, and a sixth guy to drive the mini-van and operate the cameras.
    • Re:LOL (Score:5, Informative)

      by geniusj ( 140174 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @01:20AM (#23334054) Homepage
      This really shouldn't be all that crippling for the individuals involved. It appears that it was a corporation. The corporation is therefore liable, not the individuals involved. Corp goes bankrupt, liquidates, and everyone goes on with their lives. It's not a financial death sentence for the officers, etc.
  • Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abscissa ( 136568 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:22PM (#23331882)
    To put this is some perspective, the US has offered Burma (Myanmar) $3m in aid.
    • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

      by icedevil ( 450212 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:28PM (#23331952)
      TFA mentions that the MPAA was awarded $30,000 per infringement. So following your lead the US thinks the people of Burma are worth $30 per person (assuming the 100,000 figure is somewhat accurate.)

      • Re:Perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:04PM (#23332684)

        the US thinks the people of Burma are worth $30 per person

        No, the US thinks the people of Burma will cost $30 each to save. Big difference. Since many of them could be saved just by properly burying the dead, there is some plausibility to this low figure.

        • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Informative)

          by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:01AM (#23334278)
          >No, the US thinks the people of Burma will cost $30 each to save. Big difference. Since many of them could be
          >saved just by properly burying the dead, there is some plausibility to this low figure.

          Now this is something I hear repeated after each disaster. But the biological/epidemiological basis for the claim is not there! Dead bodies, at least those killed in a natural disaster, are not inherently dangerous, and the risks of the spread of contagions is *much* higher with the living survivors than the corpses. As long as you isolate the fresh water supply from the corpses, it is better to not try to "properly bury them" right away. The labor involved in doing that can be put to far better purpose. If you hastily start burying the dead, you fail to document the victims and you make it impossible to ever get accurate counts. 24 hours after the flood or whatever, all the bodies are the same temperature as the surrounding environment, and the bodies start decaying, but the organisms that cause the decay are not really dangerous.

          Unless a particular corpse was a person with a highly contagious disease to begin with, it's not really the biggest problem, and it should not be the survivor/rescue worker's first priority to try to bury the dead. And this is exactly how disaster relief personnel are trained, and I can put you in touch with professionals in health care, including several MD's and one MD/Ph.D. epidemiologist who will confirm what I'm saying in much more detail than I can.

          Dead bodies smell bad and are demoralizing and frightening in a primal way, but they DO NOT inherently cause the spread of disease.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by aussie_a ( 778472 )
          Not only that, but the US thinks the people of Burma will cost $30 plus all the money others have donated each to save
      • by Weaselmancer ( 533834 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:08PM (#23332704)

        Give them three pirated Britney Spears albums. Apparently that's worth about $110 million according to the RIAA.

      • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:11PM (#23332734) Homepage Journal
        The US (or any other) Government believing that people have worth? That can't be right.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Curtman ( 556920 )

        So following your lead the US thinks the people of Burma are worth $30 per person (assuming the 100,000 figure is somewhat accurate.)

        Meh, Burma... Israel is where it's at. 3 Billion a year [] or so ought to do it.
    • Re:Perspective (Score:4, Informative)

      by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:34PM (#23332008) Journal
      That isn't the complete picture as you most likely know. "WASHINGTON (AFP) -- The White House said Wednesday that Myanmar had still not answered its offers of aid for cyclone-ravaged areas, and warned that such a silence risked hampering relief efforts. "Everybody can understand that there is no substitute for being there on the ground to help people directly and trying to do so remotely is going to be impossible," said spokeswoman Dana Perino. "Our understanding is, not only have we not heard anything about our disaster team being allowed to go in to implement the help we have offered, but no one has been granted access to go in," she said. The United States has asked Myanmar to grant visas to a US disaster relief team now in neighboring Thailand, so that they can come in and assess aid needs, with about 60,000 people dead or missing in a tropical cyclone's wake. "We are increasingly concerned about the desperate situation that many people are facing there after the cyclone and we stand ready to help," Perino told reporters. "And we will try to help as best we can if we can't get into the country, but not being able to be there to help directly is going to hinder our efforts to help," she added. The White House announced Tuesday that it was offering three million dollars more in aid to the secretive and impoverished country, on top of an initial emergency allocation of 250,000 dollars. It also said that it was prepared to send four US Navy ships, laden with emergency relief supplies like blankets and water purification tablets, to Myanmar. The vessels were off Thailand's coast in a disaster-response exercise. "
      • by jd ( 1658 ) <{moc.oohay} {ta} {kapimi}> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:38PM (#23332914) Homepage Journal
        Arguably, since the cyclone/wave damage was only severe because the mangroves were all cut down, the human suffering from nature was a direct result of the natural suffering from humans. Was this their own decision (which could be considered a Solomonesque consequence), a decision of their Government (a remarkably foolish one, if so, and only a fool would deny the needy of aid on the advice of a fool), or commercial pressure from countries like the US (which is the primary cause of rainforest destruction)?

        If outside commercial pressure is the root cause of the devastation, then the blood price (as the Celts referred to it) should be a function of the gain from that pressure, not simply a function of the need ultimately caused by it. To deprive others of environmentally-provided protection from the inevitable is a crime against society. Indirectness is no excuse if the chain of events is pre-determined and inescapable. However, nobody at this point has identified that that was the reason the mangroves were cut down, so this is no more than an if/then.

        If this was an internal political decision, then I fail to see the importance of the politicians. America has never respected sovereign status on any other issue, when it has been convenient, so why recognize it when it is not an issue of convenience but life itself?

        If this was a local decision, made in the knowledge that it was completely suicidal, well, if we are now recognizing the right of individuals to terminate their own lives of their own free will, and societies are merely the product of the consensus of individuals, what right do we have to deny soieties the right to terminate themselves? Again, this is an if/then, not a judgement or an opinion of whether this was in fact what happened.

    • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Original Replica ( 908688 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:42PM (#23332092) Journal
      the US has offered Burma (Myanmar) $3m in aid.

      To put that into perspective, that is about 24 minutes worth of war in Iraq.
      • Re:Perspective (Score:4, Insightful)

        by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @04:32AM (#23334886)
        I like that: X minutes of war in Iraq. Fits nice into the libraries of congress measurement.
    • Re:Perspective (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:25PM (#23332446) Homepage
      $3m to Burma will feed everyone and build them all new houses.

      $110m to the RIAA/MPAA is caviar lunch on thursday.
  • *shrug* (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:23PM (#23331890)
    they've spent a fortune on litigation, to obtain a judgement they can't collect on & a worthless injunction, against a site that was never any good in the first place and shut down a few month ago anyway.

    More fool them.
    • Re:*shrug* (Score:5, Insightful)

      by InlawBiker ( 1124825 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:28PM (#23331956)
      It only shut down when the legal threats began. Meanwhile how many new torrent trackers have popped up? This is the definition of "hollow victory."
    • Re:*shrug* (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:56PM (#23332196)
      No not fool, because now they have a judgement on record that is stupidly broad in the favour in defining 'infringement'.

      They've made INDEXING files illegal, please note they got nailed despite setting up services that let copyright holders take down stuff they owned.

      The Legal team over at google is looking at this and going 'oh fuck no'.
      • Re:*shrug* (Score:5, Insightful)

        by xenobyte ( 446878 ) on Thursday May 08, 2008 @02:48AM (#23334466)

        The Legal team over at google is looking at this and going 'oh fuck no'.

        Exactly, and yet no. Google is simply too big for MPAA/RIAA to go after. Googles lawyers can keep a case like this tied up in courts for decades and the MAFIAA knows this.

        But in reality it is exactly the same thing. The court actually said that despite efforts to remove copyrighted materials, despite inplementing a tool that made it easy for rights owners to remove their IP, TorrentSpy are still liable for the stuff they index. Google indexes millions of pages containing illegal stuff, from kiddie porn, over terrorist manuals to IP in all its forms, and they've made no effort to make it easy to remove these things from the index (which would be censorship, but still), so if TorrentSpy is liable, so is Google and to a much higher degreee.
    • Re:*shrug* (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DesScorp ( 410532 ) < minus math_god> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:57PM (#23332206) Homepage Journal

      they've spent a fortune on litigation, to obtain a judgement they can't collect on & a worthless injunction, against a site that was never any good in the first place and shut down a few month ago anyway.

      More fool them.
      They never expected to collect any money. This was all about sending a message to other Torrent sites and P2P networks. "We've got legal precedent and unlimited resources. We're coming after you."

  • by LockeOnLogic ( 723968 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:24PM (#23331906)
    The movie companies lost money due to torrentspy's activities, but what is the basis for such a monstrous monetary judgement? Magic eight ball? Numbers out of a hat? How on earth did the movie companies prove this level of loss? Gotta love hollywood accounting, astounding how movies can make nothing and everything at the same time.
    • by i_b_don ( 1049110 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @11:04PM (#23333158)
      You know... the REAL question is why was the figure so low?

      The RIAA went after for 1.6 trillion (with a T). And here the MPAA could only get a 110 million judgment? What's wrong with them? The MPAA has only 1/15000 of the muscle of the RIAA??? Pishya, amateurs....

  • by dukeluke ( 712001 ) * <> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:25PM (#23331916) Journal
    Just because isoHunt is in Canada, we can't expect the MPAA not to try and cross the border. I mean, the RIAA has been bad enough about operating in states in the U.S. - why should we expect the MPAA not to do the same?
  • And next week... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Xeth ( 614132 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:27PM (#23331938) Journal

    ...there's another site doing the exact same thing, located in a different country.

    Attempting to fight these sites is entirely ineffective, and won't even scare the populace like suing individuals does. As for the $110 million, well... good luck? I wouldn't bet on getting more than 1%.

  • by Z-Knight ( 862716 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:28PM (#23331950)
    For the love of GOD and all that is mighty how the heck is this even possible?!?!?!! Are we electing complete idiots to the courts these days?!?! Oh, wait, don't answer that one.

    Torrentspy contained ZERO copyright material...ZERO, NIL, NADA, NOTHING. It contained no songs, no movies, no books, no videos, no nothing. It simply provided a search functionality that I could do on google (money grubbing bastards) today: searchword filetype:torrent

    Why isn't google or microsoft or yahoo or any other site stopped from doing this...geezus krist, the Music And Film Industry Association of America (MAFIAA) can go MAFUCKthemselves.

  • by kipin ( 981566 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:36PM (#23332038) Homepage
    Dr. Evil: Shit. Oh hell, let's just do what we always do. Hijack some nuclear weapons and hold the world hostage. Yeah? Good! Gentlemen, it has come to my attention that a breakaway Russian Republic called Kreplachistan will be transferring a nuclear warhead to the United Nations in a few days. Here's the plan. We get the warhead and we hold the world ransom for... ONE MILLION DOLLARS!

    Number Two: Don't you think we should ask for *more* than a million dollars? A million dollars isn't exactly a lot of money these days. Virtucon alone makes over 9 billion dollars a year! Dr. Evil: Really? That's a lot of money.


    Dr. Evil: Okay then, we hold the world ransom for...

    Dr. Evil: One... Hundred... BILLION DOLLARS!
  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968@gm ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:38PM (#23332048) Journal
    Why the USA is looked at as total idiots. Betting the entire economy on imaginary property that can be easily copied for $0 while gutting our factories and even outsourcing our jobs at home through H1-B visas. Hmmm-I wonder where the flaw in THAT plan is? The simple fact is just as the automobile has forced those in the horse buggy business to adapt or die so will ever more powerful broadband and MP3 players force software and music companies to change or die. Instead of seeing that change is a part of progress and looking for ways to make capital on this new business model the *.AA along with their lackeys in congress will try to put the genie back in the bottle with ever more draconian laws.

    Meanwhile the rest of the world will adapt while we sink further and further into a third world fascist state. While I really hope that we'll see the writing on the wall and our leaders will realize granting themselves and their big business buddies ever more increasing powers over our lives is a dead end road, after watching this march as it continues its dance of failure for the past 20+ years I sincerely doubt we're in for anything other than more of the same: More of the same bad leadership, more of the same bad laws,and more of the same police state crap to protect us "from terrorists and those evil child predators" which is of course a smokescreen for more business and government control over our lives. But that is my 02c,YMMV

    • by Anonymous Coward
      that we are a delapidated, third world country. i guess those millions of people from mexico, africa, asia, etc, who come here must be under some delusion. but once they find out you cant set up a website to help people get movies for free, i guess they will figure america is, truly, a third world country, and head back to a mequilladora to make 3 dollars a day
      • Actually, I know some of those whom you are speaking of. They live 6 to an apartment down the haul from me. Nice bunch of guys. When I asked them why they were living 6 to an apartment when they were making good money,they said "We're just going to stay here a few years and spend as little as we can while we sock our money away. Then we'll go back to Mexico and live like kings!",which is of course one of the problems we have right now. All our money is being sucked out like a black hole away from this country and without any tangible goods to sell it won't be coming back.

        And as for the software programmer who posted earlier? Just because you write a program doesn't mean you should get paid for 100+ years(or whatever the copyright is right now). There are plenty of ways to make money WITHOUT needing the government to support your business model with ever more draconian and intrusive laws. You can do work for hire,you can be paid to add features or do maintenance and support,etc. There are ways to make money out of the new business economy-it just takes work and smarts. But too many businesses with really big checkbooks would rather buy our laws rather than have to actually compete and innovate. Which is why IMHO we'll end up another third world fascist state while the rest of the world passes us by. But that is my 02c,YMMV

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Your whole rant was redundant. No one, even you, would throw your business and your key to lifelong wealth, in the toilet, simply on moral ground. I call it the "Jerry Springer Syndrome". It is easy to make fun of those on the stage until you are one of them
  • by RiotingPacifist ( 1228016 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:43PM (#23332098)
    That's the real question
  • Finally! (Score:5, Funny)

    by DanWS6 ( 1248650 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @08:53PM (#23332178)
    Those poor crew members will get reimbursed for the piracy that has hurt them and their families dearly. You know, the ones in the clips the theaters used to show before previews came on, where some older black guy was claiming how piracy hurts him and his family and every one involved in making a movie. It's quite possible they still show that clip but I wouldn't know since I stopped going to the theater last year because I was tired of the ridiculous ticket prices and lack of original movies the past few years.
  • I'm guessing that... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by actionbastard ( 1206160 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:05PM (#23332278)
    The judge in this case, obviously, didn't have time to read this: []

    Chances of the judgement being overturned on appeal: 100%.
  • Whack-A-Mole (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the eric conspiracy ( 20178 ) * on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:09PM (#23332296)
    Nice but rather empty victory. Of course the MPAA is going to take little home from this except the realization that under current law there is little they can do that effectively enforces copyright. I imagine that any half-bright executive in the movie industry will quickly come to the conclusion that there are only two avenues open to improve copyright enforcement.

    1. DRM
    2. Congress

    Expect to see both. Heavier use of elaborate schemes like those used for Blu-Ray recordings and downloadable media. Branding the owner's ID into the media so copies are traceable. Real use of certificates to manage keys, mandating only online playback.

    More stringent use of legal remedies, and criminalization of copyright infringement. WIPO treaties allowing international cooperation in pursuing violators. Tying government aid to enforcement initiatives.

    Enjoy it while the fun lasts.
  • United States (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Swampash ( 1131503 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:14PM (#23332340)
    Hear that sound, that enormous wash of white noise like the mother of all surf on the mother of all beaches?

    That's the whole world laughing. At you.
  • Open-source it! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DigitAl56K ( 805623 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:48PM (#23332584)
    Maybe TorrentSpy should open-source their entire system and upload it to TPB...
  • by rlp ( 11898 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @09:49PM (#23332594)
    I bet the MPAA would have settled for ONE MILLION DOLLARS and a couple of sharks with laser beams.
  • by Ihmhi ( 1206036 ) <> on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:29PM (#23332866)

    Even if it is not turned over on appeal, it is not like they are even going to collect 1% of that money in the forseeable future.

    What I wonder is what happens in a situation like this? If a person has $50,000 in assets and makes $20,000 a year, and they get, say, a $10,000,000 judgement rendered against them, how the hell is it paid for? Debtor's jail doesn't exist anymore, does it?

  • by capologist ( 310783 ) on Wednesday May 07, 2008 @10:57PM (#23333078)
    $30,000 per infringement? Do our Congressmen honestly think this is reasonable?

Karl's version of Parkinson's Law: Work expands to exceed the time alloted it.