Page last updated at 08:51 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 09:51 UK

TorrentSpy ordered to pay $110m

Laptop showing TorrentSpy, BBC
TorrentSpy closed its doors last month

File-sharing site TorrentSpy has been ordered to pay $110m (56m) in damages to the Motion Picture Association of America for copyright infringement.

The ruling from a court in the United States comes just weeks after the website shut down.

TorrentSpy facilitated the illegal sharing of copyright files by hosting a collection of links to films and music.

TorrentSpy parent company Valence Media and its owners Justin Bunnell and Wes Park have filed for bankruptcy.

The MPAA first began legal action against the website in February 2006.

"This substantial money judgement sends a strong message about the illegality of these sites," said Dan Glickman, chairman of the MPAA.

"The demise of TorrentSpy is a clear victory for the studios."

TorrentSpy utilised a legitimate file-sharing technology called BitTorrent. It makes it easier to exchange large files over the internet without having to rely on central servers, with individual users sending and sharing bits of files.

In a four-page ruling, US District Judge Florence-Marie Cooper said that TorrentSpy had to pay $30,000 for "each of the 3,699 infringements shown".

The judgement is one of the largest fines ever handed down for copyright theft.

TorrentSpy shut down on 24 March and the website now has a message saying it has closed as "the ultimate method of privacy protection".

It states: "The legal climate in the USA for copyright, privacy of search requests, and links to torrent files in search results is simply too hostile."

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