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Appeals Court Rules Against Movie Piracy Website

21 Mar, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit March 21 issued a unanimous decision against website isoHunt for "inducing" users to illegally download and distribute copyrighted material such as movies and TV programs.

The Ninth Circuit’s decision confirmed a lower court’s 2009 ruling that Gary Fung and his business, isoHunt Web Technologies, committed copyright infringement by enabling users to illegally download and distribute movies and TV shows over the BitTorrent peer-to-peer network, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.

The appellate court held that isoHunt and Fung were not protected by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The court found that the website took “no steps to develop filtering tools or other mechanisms to diminish the infringing activity by those using his services,” while running ads on a site to promote copyright infringement.

A separate trial will be held to determine the amount of monetary damages Fung must pay to the plaintiffs, according to the MPAA.

“Today’s ruling represents an important step toward realizing the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and job creation — including millions of workers in the creative industries,” Henry Hoberman, senior EVP and global general counsel for the MPAA, said in a statement. “This ruling affirms a core principle of copyright law: 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. It also strikes an important blow in the fight to preserve the jobs of millions of workers in the creative industries, whose hard work and investments are exploited by rogue websites for their own profit.”

Notably, despite the injunction, isoHunt.com continues to operate through private servers in Canada and it is the fourth most popular BitTorrent site on the Internet, according to the MPAA. The website claims to offer approximately 59 million peers, 11.8 million active torrents and is currently ranked as the 231st most visited website on the Internet by Alexa.com.

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