When the founders called the site TorrentSpy, this isn't what they had in mind. In a recent court ruling, made public last week, a federal judge ordered TorrentSpy.com to track the behavior of its own users - a means of gathering evidence in a lawsuit against the site by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). On Friday, the judge granted a stay of the order, and TorrentSpy plans to appeal.
"We have succeeded in delaying the court order to turn on logs while we appeal it. TorrentSpy will not create logs of what you do on the site without your consent," reads an open letter from the site to its users. "We are dedicated to your privacy. We are fighting for your rights."
What's more, the ruling orders TorrentSpy to "mask" the IP addresses it provides to court, so they can't be associated with particular people. "So [TorrentSpy] wouldn't be violating anyone's privacy anyway," says Todd Bonder, a new media copyright expert with the international law firm Rosenfeld, Meyer, and Susman. He expects the decision to be upheld.
If the decision is upheld, some believe it's capable of eroding end-user privacy across the Net. Before Judge Choijian's ruling, no US company has been required to log memory data and turn it over to a court as evidence.