Bye-Bye TorrentSpy, So Long MPAA's Money
In one of the biggest judgments in the history of intellectual property law, BitTorrent search engine TorrentSpy was ordered Wednesday to pay $110 million to the Motion Picture Association of America, the fruits of the a default judgment won by the MPAA last year after the site's operators refused to turn over information about users and acted to anonymize posts on the site.
While the MPAA is busy crowing about their "victory," the merits of the case remain untested, as the court dispensed with the trouble of hearing evidence and ruled for the MPAA as a means of punishing TorrentSpy. An actual trial of the MPAA's claims against BitTorrent trackers is expected in Los Angeles, where a case against Isohunt is being heard. The TorrentSpy default judgment is currently being appealed based on the claim — gasp — that the MPAA engaged in its own misconduct, allegedly hiring a hacker to steal information from TorrentSpy.
The award — which, to our knowledge, is only surpassed by the $115 million judgment levied against Kazaa — is also being appealed, though the outcome is rather moot, given that victorious or not the MPAA isn't likely see any of it's money. Valence Media — the company behind TorrentSpy — is located outside the U.S., and has filed in the United Kingdom for the UK's version of corporate bankruptcy.
Apparently undeterred, the MPAA quickly announced "We will pursue enforcement of the judgment." We don't know what the UK's bankruptcy laws are like, but if they're anything like U.S. bankruptcy law — where the mere filing of the form puts any collection activity or lawsuit within U.S. jurisdiction immediately on hold — we wouldn't want to be the MPAA (not that we would ever want to be the MPAA), as U.S. Bankruptcy Courts are notoriously vicious towards creditors that overstep the automatic stay. Unless the MPAA decides to collect in the UK, the matter will likely end up in U.S. court anyway, under Chapter 15 of the Bankruptcy Code, which governs U.S. debts by foreign entities in bankruptcy.