Judge orders TorrentSpy to hand over user data

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TorrentSpy.com has received a federal judge order to monitor its users’ activities by keeping detailed server logs which must then be handed over to the MPAA. The popular BitTorrent tracker site intends to appeal the ruling by the June 12 deadline it was given. The judge’s order comes after the Motion Picture Association of America and other top Hollywood film studios sued TorrentSpy and a host of others back in February 2006 as part of a sweep against file-sharing companies.

There is some speculation about U.S. visitors being blocked from accessing the torrent site if the order is allowed to stand. TorrentSpy pledges not to track visitors’ activities or to collect any personal information about users because it explicitly states in its privacy policy that it will never do so, thus they should not be required by litigation to create new records to hand over discovery. The movies studios, however, might have a powerful weapon in their war on copyright infringement, according to a report by CNET News.com:

The courts have for the first time found that the electronic trail briefly left in a computer server's RAM, or random access memory, by each visitor to a site is "stored information" and must be turned over as evidence during litigation.
According to court documents, user data is in fact stored in the RAM for about six hours on TorrentSpy’s servers, so the defendants are not really being asked to create new information, and failing to deliver these records could be considered as concealing evidence.

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