A company accused of aiding movie pirates says the group that represents Hollywood studios hired a computer hacker to spy on it.
Valence Media, which operates www.torrentspy.com, sued the Motion Picture Assn. of America on Wednesday, saying the trade group paid a hacker $15,000 to break into Valence's computers and get private information, including e-mails, financial information and trade secrets.
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, said an MPAA employee approached a hacker, who was not a Valence employee, and asked him to collect information on the company and its three principals.
The MPAA employee had 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.
Several movie studios sued Valence in February for allegedly helping people find and download pirated copies of films.
The website operated by Valence indexes files located on a number of individual computers.
Once a file is found using the torrentspy search engine, the actual exchange of data is conducted by 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.