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A Los Angeles federal judge declined Friday to reverse a magistrate judge’s order requiring a file-sharing Web site to turn over a relatively unexploited kind of electronic discovery. While it’s customary for e-mails and other documents to be dredged from computer memory during discovery, this may be the first request for information from transitory Random Access Memory, according to Fred Von Lohmann, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The EFF wrote an amicus brief protesting the request by plaintiffs — several movie studios including Columbia Pictures — to have defendant TorrentSpy turn over RAM information. The studios accuse TorrentSpy of copyright infringement, arguing that the site allows users to download copyrighted films. TorrentSpy doesn’t house or distribute copyrighted data. Its servers hold files that allow users to pull material, including copyrighted data, from the networked computers of other users. TorrentSpy is based in California but its servers are in the Netherlands. The studios want the RAM data to see what users are doing on the site, according to filings. Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian issued the RAM order in May, but stayed it while the site asked for district judge review. TorrentSpy argued that turning over the data violated its users’ right to privacy. On Friday, Judge Florence-Marie Cooper sided with the magistrate judge. “Although defendants disagree with the magistrate judge’s ultimate decision, they have failed to establish that her factual findings were clearly erroneous or that her legal conclusions were contrary to law,” Cooper wrote. TorrentSpy attorney Ira Rothken, of the Rothken Law Firm, said Monday his client intended to file an interlocutory appeal to the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. Also on Monday, TorrentSpy decided to bar U.S. customers from using its site because of the “uncertain legal climate in the U.S. regarding user privacy.” Rothken said the court’s orders were an important factor in the site’s decision. A spokesperson for the Motion Picture Association of America, which has spoken on behalf of the case’s plaintiffs in the past, did not return a call seeking comment.

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