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Studios Win $110M Judgment Against TorrentSpy

7 May, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

A federal judge in Los Angeles May 7 ordered shuttered file-sharing service TorrentSpy.com to pay movie studios $110 million in damages for the unauthorized online distribution of popular movies and television shows.

The P2P site, until shut down in March by British-based parent Valence Media LLC, operated as a BitTorrent search engine that claimed to index more than 1 million — often pirated — video files.

BitTorrent, which has license distribution deals with numerous studios, was not a party to the suit.

U.S. District Judge Stephen Wilson found Valence Media liable for copyright infringement, contributory (indirect) infringement and vicarious copyright infringement, whereby someone has a direct financial interest in the infringing actions being committed by another.

The permanent injunction prohibits Valence from encouraging, promoting, soliciting or facilitating copyright infringement.

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) filed the lawsuit against TorrentSpy in 2006.

“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 operate without facing relentless litigation by copyright holders.”

It wasn't immediately clear whether Valence would appeal the judgment. A representative from the company was not immediately available for comment.

Separately, the MPAA settled a suit against Cinematube.net, whereby the owner of the site, Georgian Tien Tran, will pay $1.38 million in damages for the unauthorized dissemination of movies over the Internet.

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