TorrentSpy shuts its doors

April 1, 2008 // 3:20 p.m.

Tags: #bittorrent #file-sharing #legal #piracy #torrentspy

The BitTorrent search engine TorrentSpy – at its peak one of the largest P2P search engines on the Internet – officially closed its doors on March 24th 2008.

Although the site claims that it jumped rather than being pushed in a statement which started “We have decided on our own, not due to any court order or agreement, to bring the Torrentspy.com search engine to an end,” the December 2007 default judgement the MPAA was awarded against the company in which the judge found that TorrentSpy admins had systematically destroyed evidence can't have helped.

The team goes on to explain that actions were requested of them by the court as a result of that ruling which they felt were “inconsistent with our privacy policy, traditional court rules, and International law,” and therefore the team could find nothing to do except “provide the ultimate method of privacy protection for our users – permanent shutdown.

The tactics of the MPAA and sister organisations is clear to see here: although there will always be a place in the organisations' eyes for deep-packet inspection and fake peers, with the increased use of encryption in P2P software it's a heck of a lot easer to catch people if you simply log what .torrent file they downloaded. If the MPAA or RIAA could get their hands on a webserver log from a major BitTorrent search engine – a log which will list, at the very least, what .torrent files were downloaded by individual IP addresses – it would keep them in litigation victims for years.

Clearly, this is why TorrentSpy chose to shutdown. The 'systematic destruction' of data was nothing more than the regular cleaning of server logs in order to protect the privacy of their users, and having been ordered by the court to keep better records of who does what the site has chosen to fall on its sword rather than risk getting folks in trouble.

Whatever your opinion on the rights and wrongs of peer-to-peer distribution of copyright content, you can't blame the team for not wanting to do the right thing by their users.

Are you a Torrentspy advocate now sad to see the site go, or do you think such search engines have always sailed close to the legal wind? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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