Company Says MPAA Paid Hacker to Spy

Valence Media, a company accused of aiding online movie pirates, says the group that represents Hollywood studios hired a computer hacker to spy on it.

Valence Media, which operates the Web site

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sued in February by several movie studios for allegedly helping people locate and download pirated copies of films.

On Wednesday, the company sued the Motion Picture Association of America, saying the trade group paid a hacker $15,000 to break into Valence Media's computers and obtain private information, including e-mails, financial information and trade secrets.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, claims an MPAA employee approached an unnamed hacker, who was not an employee of Valence, and asked him to collect information on the company and its three principals.

The MPAA employees offered the hacker $15,000 if the information proved useful and said, "We don't care how you get it," according to the lawsuit.

The MPAA denied the accusations Thursday.

"We see this as nothing more than a desperate attempt to obscure the fact that they are knowingly facilitating piracy," MPAA spokeswoman Kori Bernards said.

The Web site operated by Valence Media indexes files located on a multitude of individuals' computers. Once a file is found using the torrentspy search engine, the actual exchange is conducted by individual computer users, without torrentspy's assistance.

The studios say torrentspy could easily prevent the piracy by not indexing pirated files or by barring users who regularly offer illegal copies of movies and TV shows.

A motion by Valence media to dismiss the MPAA's lawsuit was denied in March.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

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