Site founder Gary Fung says he’ll be back, but the case establishes that a Torrent index infringes copyright
The owner of the popular torrent tracker isoHunt has announced he will shut down the website, and attempt to pay out $110 million (£61.8m) to settle a copyright lawsuit brought by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
Gary Fung from Vancouver, Canada, has battled the group representing film copyright holders for the last seven years, and the MPAA hails the result as a landmark victory, since it punishes website administrators for enabling copyright infringement, even though they didn’t actually host the copyright material in question.
It is unlikely that the full amount of the settlement will reach the industry group, with court documents putting a realistic estimate between two and four million US dollars.
Paying your dues
For over a decade, isoHunt served as a premier destination for online pirates. It was founded by Fung, a programming enthusiast and proponent of copyright reform. The website didn’t host any infringing material, instead serving as a directory of both legal and illegal content.
Last week, isoHunt held indexed links to 13.7 million active BitTorrent files, with 51 million monthly users making it one of the world’s top 500 most visited websites. However, a court in California decided that the website was breaking the law by making torrent files searchable, and ordered to close it down.
As a result of the settlement, isoHunt was shut down on Friday, with a farewell message from Fung. “It’s been an adventure in the last 10.5 years working on isoHunt, a privilege working with some of the smartest guys I’ve worked with, and my life won’t be the same without it. For what I’m working on next, please look up my blog on Google and follow me there. ”
The administrator finished his post Terminator-style: “I’ll be back”.
In a press conference on Reddit in 2012, Fung said he always respected DMCA requests and took down offending content. He suggested that the content industry should monetise sharing activity, and use isoHunt and other sharing sites as promotional networks, to offer simultaneous worldwide releases, streaming and more attractive pricing. He also advocated shortening of copyright term and abolishing software patents.
“Today’s settlement is a major step forward in realising the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and innovation,” commented former US Senator Chris Dodd, chairman and chief executive of the MPAA. “It also sends a strong message that those who build businesses around encouraging, enabling, and helping others to commit copyright infringement are themselves infringers, and will be held accountable for their illegal actions.
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