TorrentSpy Founder Closes Down Site After Battle With MPAA

Bob Preston
CYBERSPACE — TorrentSpy has shut down.

After a two-year battle with the Motion Picture Association of America that drained the company’s coffers, TorrentSpy founder Justin Bunnell has announced the end of his company.

“We have decided on our own, not due to any court order or agreement, to bring the search engine to an end, and thus we permanently closed down worldwide on March 24, 2008,” he wrote.

TorrentSpy's legal wranglings with the MPAA largely revolved around privacy issues. The MPAA brought suit against the company, claiming it was providing a safe haven for terabytes of pirated media. To that end, the MPAA tried to force TorrentSpy to give up information about its user base.

They did not. Bunnell cited privacy as a reason for shutting down his company.

“We now feel compelled to provide the ultimate method of privacy protection for our users — permanent shutdown,” he said.

Attorney Ira Rothken, who represented TorrentSpy, told XBIZ that just because TorrentSpy has shut down does not mean they've trafficked in copyrighted materials.

"The case is still in active litigation," he said. "TorrentSpy looks forward to arguing its case."

Rothken added that TorrentSpy's primary motivation for closing down was to protect consumer privacy.

Although estimating TorrentSpy's effect on adult industry profits would be nearly impossible, many in the industry blame torrent sites and similar file-sharing technologies for millions in lost revenue every year. John Malcolm, executive vice president and director of worldwide antipiracy operations for the MPAA, said that illegal pirating and bootlegging of Hollywood movies costs the industry $11 billion annually.