May 7, 2008 1:37 PM PDT
In a major win for Hollywood studios, a California federal judge has ordered TorrentSpy to pay nearly $111 million in damages for infringing the copyright of thousands of films and TV shows through its BitTorrent search engine.
The Los Angeles judge, U.S. District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper, also issued a permanent injunction against TorrentSpy, which was once one of the most popular indexes of BitTorrent files before it shut down in March after a two-year copyright battle with the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). The company closed its site on March 24, citing financial hardship and a desire to protect the privacy of its users.
MPAA CEO Dan Glickman said the judgment should serve as warning to other search services of file-sharing applications.
"The demise of TorrentSpy is a clear victory for the studios and demonstrates that such pirate sites will not be allowed to continue to operate without facing relentless litigation by copyright holders," he said in a statement.
TorrentSpy intends to appeal a court decision that requires the now-defunct search engine to pay $111 million in damages to the six largest film studios, according to the company's attorney.
Ira Rothken has defended TorrentSpy since 2006, when it was accused in a lawsuit filed by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) of encouraging copyright infringement. In an interview with CNET News.com on Wednesday night, Rothken said the judge's decision was an "abuse of discretion" and suggested that the large dollar amount was an attempt to draw attention to the case.
"What is really going on here is a Hollywood public-relations stunt," Rothken said. "The reason for the size of the judgment was so a bunch of news organizations would write that 'a $100 million judgment was issued against a bunch of pirates' when, in fact, it was declared against a company with no appreciable assets that has already declared bankruptcy."
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