August 29, 2007

In a recent announcement via its corporate blog, TorrentSpy, a file sharing company located in The Netherlands providing access to torrent files, announced that instead of agreeing to provide user information to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), it will no longer allow users from the United States to access is search engine. According to Wikipedia, BitTorrent is a “peer-to-peer file sharing (P2P) communications protocol” and is a “method of distributing large amounts of data widely without the original distributor incurring the entire costs of hardware, hosting and bandwidth resources.” According to The Register (UK) article linked below, in May, 2007, Judge Chooljian of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California ordered TorrentSpy to submit server logs (including IP addresses and file lists), for which TorrentSpy received a stay, appealed, and was subsequently denied. According to the TorrentSpy blog post, its decision to prohibit visitors from the U.S. “was not compelled by any court.” Attempts to access content from TorrentSpy from the U.S. will now yield the following statement:

“Sorry, but because you are located in the USA you cannot use the search features of the Torrentspy.com website. Torrentspy's decision to stop accepting US visitors was NOT compelled by any Court but rather an uncertain legal climate in the US regarding user privacy and an apparent tension between US and European Union privacy laws.”

The TorrentSpy help page currently includes the following statement:

“The site has BLOCKED United States of America IP addresses (an "IP address" is the identifier of your PC on the internet,) due to privacy (or lack of privacy) laws in the USA. The forum staff do not have any special knowledge about this issue- we know what is posted on the public TorrentSpy Blog and that's it.”

TorrentSpy has announced its intention to appeal the recent denial.

The Register (UK) Article: LINK
TorrentSpy v. MPAA Blog: LINK
Wikipedia Entry for “BitTorrent”: LINK

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Mark Reichel
Reichel IP LLC

I am a patent attorney with Reichel IP LLC, where I concentrate my practice on patent drafting and prosecution, trademarks, and general intellectual property matters. I currently focus on the preparation and prosecution of medical device and other life sciences patent applications, and being actively involved in a number of local not-for-profit organizations.

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