In what the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) is calling a significant victory for the major Hollywood studios, a federal judge in Los Angeles has issued a $110 million judgment against file-sharing Web site TorrentSpy for infringing on the copyrights for thousands of popular movies and television shows.
The worldwide motion-picture industry, including foreign and domestic producers,
distributors, theaters, video stores and pay-per-view operators, loses more than $18 billion annually as a result of movie theft. More than $7 billion in losses are attributed to illegal Internet distribution, while $11 billion is from illegal copying and bootlegging.
"This substantial money judgment sends a strong message about the illegality of
these sites," said Dan Glickman, chairman and CEO of the MPAA. "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."
And Don't Do It Again!
The court rendered its judgment against Valence Media, the company operating
TorrentSpy, for willful inducement of copyright infringement, contributory infringement and vicarious copyright infringement. Specifically, Valence was charged $30,000 per violation for nearly 3,700 illegal television program and movie downloads.
The court also issued a permanent injunction prohibiting TorrentSpy from further infringing any of the studios' copyrighted works. The permanent injunction prohibits Valence from engaging in any activity that encourages, promotes or solicits, or knowingly facilitates, enables or assists, copyright infringement.
The ruling marks the second decisive defeat for TorrentSpy in the case. Late last year the same federal court entered a default order and found the TorrentSpy operators liable for copyright infringement. The TorrentSpy Web site shut down on March 24, 2008. Valence has reportedly filed for bankruptcy protection in a United Kingdom court and has requested the judgment be stayed.
Cracking Down on Piracy Cartels
Led by the United States, more governments are pushing to decrease piracy and foster a respect for intellectual property, according to Amy White, an analyst with IDC.
"It's not necessarily about Sony getting the money they should be getting," she said. "It's more about instilling a fear of stealing. Some governments are looking at piracy as being as bad as selling crack to kids."
While piracy may not have the same dramatic impact, she said, piracy is an underground opportunity that's supporting higher-level illegal activity. However, analysts aren't so sure that the million-dollar judgment will be much of a deterrent to the underground piracy cartels.
"Right now, it's more of a statement. As the government cracks down on more and more of these companies, it will become a deterrent," White said. "The government is making an example of TorrentSpy, and that's the way criminals will look at it. It's like when Martha Stuart was [sent to jail] as an example. As we see more crackdowns, you'll see less piracy. But it will never go away."