TorrentSpy forced to keep user details

The MPAA is determined to stop torrents of its property

A United States federal judge has upheld a prior ruling that forces TorrentSpy to keep records of its server logs. This means the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) could obtain the IP addresses of those using the BitTorrent service.

In an attempt to slow the MPAA progress, TorrentSpy has decided to block US resident access, which effectively reduces the possibility of the MPAA filing any charges against the site's users. So far TorrentSpy has been allowed to block users, but there is some speculation that further litigation could end this policy.

TorrentSpy never kept logs

Since its inception, TorrentSpy has been loath to log any files and has never collected any personal information on users, including IP addresses. When the MPAA filed a suit against TorrentSpy in the hope of obtaining logs and IP addresses, the aforementioned policy yielded very little information for the MPAA to use. It is because of this that the MPAA filed the second suit.

Although it was not successful, TorrentSpy argued that privacy laws in the Netherlands - where the servers are physically located - prevented it from recording any personal information about its users. The site also argued that the log data was unavailable since it only existed in RAM and was never stored.

The judge didn't buy the TorrentSpy argument. And as Magistrate Florence-Marie Cooper explained, RAM functions as a primary storage solution, regardless of whether or not it was maintained, making it electronically stored information that is governed by US federal discovery rules.

Discovery rule

In her decision, Judge Cooper referenced the language of the discovery rule, which clearly includes "any type of information that is stored electronically". She went on to explain that "the Court notes that this decision does not impose an additional burden on any website operator or party outside of this case.

"It simply requires that the defendants in this case, as part of this litigation... begin preserving and subsequently produce a particular subset of the data in RAM under Defendants' control."

Because TorrentSpy no longer operates in the US, few believe this ruling will have a significant impact on the company's operations.