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May 26, 2006

Spy v. Spy [11:40 am]

TorrentSpy suit accuses MPAA of hacking

MPAA charged TorrentSpy earlier this year with knowingly facilitating movie piracy. TorrentSpy operates a search engine that allows users to find files online that can be shared using the BitTorrent file sharing system. TorrentSpy argues that it doesn’t host any content and so can’t be charged with illegally distributing files.

The TorrentSpy suit says that the hacker, once an associate of one of the principals of Valence Media, improperly accessed Valence Media email accounts and had emails sent to and from the accounts forwarded to a separate email box that he could access. In doing so, he learned login information and passwords to TorrentSpy servers. Once in the servers, he allegedly copied information about TorrentSpy’s income, expenses, advertising orders and other information about the servers themselves, such as the way TorrentSpy indexes files.

TorrentSpy alleges that in July last year the MPAA paid the hacker US$15,000 for the information. TorrentSpy also alleges that the MPAA told the hacker it didn’t care how he got the information and that it would protect him from any liability in obtaining the information. The suit does not explain how TorrentSpy discovered the information breach.

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