Sue Google, not us, Torrentspy tells Hollywood

Torrentspy argues it can't be held liable for actions of visitors once they leave its Web site

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) might just as well have sued Google for copyright violation rather than pick on Torrentspy, the smaller company said in a court filing this week seeking dismissal of the case.

In February, the MPAA filed seven lawsuits against Torrentspy and other search companies that help visitors find content or instruct them how to download it. It was the first time that the MPAA had charged such companies with copyright infringement.

In its filing Monday seeking to dismiss the case, Torrentspy argued that the MPAA might as well have sued Google, since Google does what Torrentspy does, only better. Torrentspy is a search engine that helps visitors find torrent files, which are often music or movie files stored in an easily shared file format.

"There is nothing alleged to distinguish defendants' website from that maintained by Google," Torrentspy said in its filing. "Everything alleged about defendants' website is true about Google, and even more so, because Google outperforms the allegations in the complaint," the filing reads.

Torrentspy argues that its site doesn't contain any copyright works or links to copyright works, does not promote copyright infringement and can't be held liable for the actions of visitors once they leave its Web site. The MPAA suit charges the company with secondary copyright infringement., Torrentspy said.

The MPAA's charges against Torrentspy go beyond the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion against Grokster, Torrentspy said. In that decision, the Supreme Court ruled that someone who offers a tool and promotes the use of that tool to infringe copyrights is liable for the user's infringement.

Grokster shut down after the decision was made and other peer-to-peer file sharing sites also closed or began to discuss changes in their business models to avoid running foul of the Supreme Court ruling.

When the MPAA filed its suits against the seven companies in February, it said it aimed to shut down major pirate networks by thwarting their supply of illegal material and their means of distribution.

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