TorrentSpy, knee-deep in legal-sludge slung by the US movie industry, has barred US users from its file-sharing service. But TorrentSpy claims the move is not directly influenced by its ongoing legal wrangles. Directly being the key word.

TorrentSpy said its decision to stop accepting US visitors "arises out of an uncertain legal climate in the United States regarding user privacy and the apparent tension between US and European Union internet privacy laws".

Or to put it another way: a US judge recently ordered TorrentSpy to hand over user data to the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America). But if TorrentSpy complies with this ruling in America, it will give the MPAA the IP addresses of every user at the site, compromising their data privacy and leaving the Dutch-based TorrentSpy open to legal action in the EU from its own users.

And given that the MPAA is desperate to start suing file-sharers, TorrentSpy would almost certainly land back in court somewhere or other if it handed over the data. But if no-one is using TorrentSpy in the US, there's no user info to cough.

Keeping up? The bottom line is that the MPAA has found a way of squeezing out a large file-sharing service – squeezing it of the US at least. Although the users themselves will find a way to share/steal, I have no doubt.

The bottom, bottom line? A great victory for artists' copyright/sad day for the freedom of the web*.

*delete according to standpoint.