TorrentSpy = YouTube?
"And to Robert Hirst - even if TorrentSpy is happy to block searches for copywritten materiel, they would still have to produce data similar to that requested to PROVE that it worked."
Surely the onus is on the copyright holders to produce data that proves it DOESN'T work.... i.e. that they are requesting search terms / files to be blocked under the DMCA, and those terms are still being allowed. Why do TorrentSpy need to provide data that can be obtained simply and even automatically by the copyright holder, just by simply feeding the relevant search term into an url and capturing the results? They already comply with the DMCA removal procedures to the letter, and have an agent in the US.
And even if the onus were on them (seems ridiculous to me) then there is a slight difference between the data demanded (providing full logs of every search / click on a link tied to IP), and lists of searches and torrents downloaded without any personal information attached, or even just the list of indexed torrents. When Google was ordered to turn over search terms with personally identifiable information (e.g. IP) attached it was overruled, and IIRC they didn't even have to surrender the data requested -without- the personally identifiable information attached.
It's a bit like the whole YouTube fiasco.... does the blame for infringing material lie with the person who puts the original video up, with the service that hosts and indexes the video, or with the person who watches the material. To some degree the truth is all three, but does it really seem fair that someone could be sent a YouTube link through email or something and click it, and then charged punitive and arbitrary damages of what the copyright holder believes they lost through ad revenue, dvd sales, xyz, etc. Unless you can absolutely prove that the person downloaded knew what the content was before downloading (e.g. that it wasn't a HD trailer version or something) then it's unfair that they should be liable when the copyright holder could be working with YouTube to make sure the material isn't there in the first place.
Thinking through these issues it begs the question what they intend to do with the information they requested anyway. Search results don't actually prove that someone opened the torrent file in the relevant application and obtained or distributed the file. Seems like they want ammo for witch-hunts and scare tactics against those too ignorant to know that they are paying an out of court settlement based on "evidence" that the RIAA/MPAA claims to hold which actually does not necessarily even prove they have done anything wrong.
If they want to order TorrentSpy to improve the removal procedure to speed up the process, that's well and good, I think everyone would agree that is benevolent and fair. But if they order them to change their policy to violate the rights of every person using the site for anything legal or otherwise, that is quite something else.
I see the block as a political statement that just because America no longer believes in personal rights and freedoms, it does not mean that everyone must now abandon them. It doesn't mean that they are going to stop complying with the DMCA, just that they seek to protect American citizens from their own government.