Goodbye TorrentSpy!

Goodbye TorrentSpy!

Oh, it's a dark day in the less-than-legal world of bittorrents. Digital freedom, too.

The ever-popular search engine TorrentSpy is making its way through the American legal system, having been sued by the MPAA in February 2006. The MPAA is calling down its usual thunder, copyright infringement, by maintaining that TorrentSpy allows individuals to find and download bittorrents of copyright material. No, really?

But the legal battle over TorrentSpy itself is hardly the most consequential part of the case; torrent web sites come and go, after all. No, I'm more troubled by the particulars of the battle itself, and this time, the battleground hovers directly over TorrentSpy's site logs. ...or lack thereof.

While Torrentspy has continually maintained that it doesn't keep track of activity to its website -- the IP addresses of its users -- that time might be soon drawing to a close. Judge Jacqueline Chooljian, of the United States District Court for the Central District of California, ruled May 29 that TorrentSpy must begin offering logs (and said IP addresses) for all computers that access the TorrentSpy web site. But, as always, there's a catch to the ruling. TorrentSpy previously attempted to fight off the request by arguing that since it maintains no logs, it cannot be compelled to create that which is not already there, or in this case, server logs. TorentSpy satisfies the law and the discovery process merely when it turns over material already in its possession.

And there's the rub. The MPAA has been ever-so-crafty in its arguments, to which Judge Chooljian agreed; when said IP-related data is temporarily stored on a computer's RAM, that qualifies as being "within the possession, custody, and control of [the] defendants." Consequently, said content is being treated like a legal document of-sorts.  Regardless of a site's privacy policy, a log has now been created, in the eyes of the court.

So what does that mean? Provided a higher court doesn't issue the grand appellate smackdown, it's a nuclear bomb for the world of anonymous web surfing. Now, your accessing a site will forever be recorded, provided you aren't on a Tor network or other similar proxy. And the ruling has just made life a little more taxing for companies with a web presence, as they'll likely -- if not legally -- be required to maintain these "RAM logs" so that a computer's contents can be accounted for in its entirety.

My thoughts? This will never last. Whether the entire ruling will be struck by a higher court on appeal or, at the very least, more specifically defined to the case at-hand, it'll change. Perhaps not in the overall favor of poor TorrentSpy, but hopefully more limiting as to not destroy the sanctity (and servers) of the Internet as we know it today. The function of RAM is in no way comparable to maintaining server logs, and the MPAA merely lucked out by finding a judge dumb enough to go along with this legal loophole.

TorrentSpy has an appeal of the decision pending, but there's no word yet as to when that will get heard.

16

Comments

+ Add a Comment
avatar

teikyo30

I'll never understand why people don't take the time to learn how to use mIRC and XDCC Klipper. I've never had a problem, nor have I ever read of anyone ever having any sort of legal issue using the program to download files using mIRC. It's easy, blazingly fast, and makes using a torrent program feel a little like using AOL dial-up service.

avatar

oerllikon

spot on, people will just find other ways. but seriously, this is plain lame-ass at its finest

avatar

FaykePearson

They say the info is stored on the RAM? physically give them the RAM sticks. Since RAM as we know needs electricity to store info, when they are removed from the servers...poof...info gone. They are abiding by the letter of the law turning over the piece of equipment that is holding the info. Not their fault that info is volatile.

avatar

maxime29

I go on torrentspy just to view the news articles on the main page. So now I'm getting logged and possibly accused of helping piracy because I like to read ridiculous news articles?

avatar

kaori.

me too,  it was a nice little site while it lasted, they had a good system going. But oh well.

avatar

Qooop

Don't they see that every time they use the law to try to stop downloading then people will just migrate to a higher level of anonymity. Right now there are so many different forms of P2P including Usenet, Bitorrent, and all the other P2P programs like Limewire and the others. Not to mention the private networks and I have even bought copied CDs and DVDs of stuff no longer available on eBay.

Good luck shutting it down. There must be put into place a profitable way to allow us to download anything we want at anytime we want to at a REASONABLE cost in the file formats without device restrictions. Then and only then will the illegal downloading trickle to a halt

avatar

2007mustang

Ram logs. Ya good luck with that.... Make a ram drive and have the logs go to there. Then when the RIAA wants them say sure just a second while we reboot our systems. Bye bye ram logs.

It all comes down to this. If you don't own it don't down load it. I wish the RIAA would come after me then they can spend time looking through my music collection for the disks to the original songs/games. I use it to down load things i already have and just to damn lazy to convert it my self.

avatar

Kerzon

They Shred the furniture, Cat hair everywhere and they never let you sleep.

avatar

Hinterlander

Boy I hope this doesn't turn into a Metallica VS. Napster witchhunt, I guess I'm stupid, but I didn't realize that Torrents were illegal.

avatar

EmanDman

Only certain things on torrent spy are illegal. You could download linux distro's all you want and you wouldn't be in any trouble. It's all the programs and movies that you should pay for that people are getting for free then seeding like mad which is the illegal part.

I'm not absolutely sure as to how works, but I think I am mostly correct.

avatar

TheMurph

torrents aren't illegal. using torrents to grab copyrighted content is illegal.

avatar

Theowningone

as i read this i started tor and vidalia...

TOR BUTTON ON!!!

avatar

flapjack

Since when does the MPAA control every patent, isn't that the patient holder's job?

avatar

DataMan.EXE

Q:

How Can They Prove That The Person Was Downloading Torrents, And That The Said torrents Were Illegal With Out Downloading Them Themselves And In The Process Breaking Their Own Law???

A:

THEY CANT

avatar

TheMurph

Someone who owns the copyrights to something can't download their own work themselves, in whatever manner they see fit?

Riiiiiight...

avatar

DreadedOne509

TorrentSPY should offer them the contents of their RAM (a moment in time) when they get a subpeona for it. Nothing more, nothing less.

Log in to MaximumPC directly or log in using Facebook

Forgot your username or password?
Click here for help.

Login with Facebook
Log in using Facebook to share comments and articles easily with your Facebook feed.