MPAA Accused of Hiring a Hacker

Valance Media, the company which runs Torrentspy.com, has accused the Motion Picture Association of America of hiring a hacker to attempt to collect private information about the Web site. According to the complaint, the group paid a man $15,000 to steal e-mail and trade secrets.

A suit has been filed in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

"The Motion Picture Association of America willfully and intentionally obtained without authority, conspired to obtain without authority, purchased, procured, used and disclosed private information that it knew was unlawfully obtained through unauthorized access to Plaintiffs' computer servers and private email accounts," the suit reads.

Information allegedly obtained includes a spreadsheet with income and expenses for the first half of 2005, e-mails between employees, server and billing information.

The man who participated in the plan has since admitted his involvement, and is now working with Valance on the case. The MPAA had sued the site, along with other newsgroup and torrent services in February.

A spokesperson for the MPAA has denied the allegations, accusing Torrentspy of attempting to divert attention away from its allegedly illegal activities. Saying the "law is on our side," the group is confident that its suit would be successful.

However, the MPAA may be caught red-handed. Torrentspy claims it has documents that prove the group's involvement, including signed contracts. If true, such a revelation could damage the industry's anti-piracy efforts, say some analysts.

Torrentspy has asked the court to hold a jury trial, and award its parent company unspecified damages.

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