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isoHunt.com Shut Down in MPAA Settlement

17 Oct, 2013 By: Chris Tribbey

BitTorrent file-sharing site isoHunt.com will shut down after a settlement with the Motion Picture Association of America that will see the site and its owner pay the studios $110 million.

The settlement in the case of Columbia Pictures Industries vs. Fung (site operator Gary Fung) came down Oct. 17 after a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in March unanimously upheld a lower court’s ruling that isoHunt facilitated illegal downloading and distribution of copyrighted work. The site was not protected under the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the court added.

“Today’s settlement is a major step forward in realizing the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and innovation,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO 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.”

The site will shut down for good Oct. 23. isoHunt says it has more than 52 million users and 13.7 million active torrents.

The site celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2013, and Fung wrote a message on the site’s front page in January discussing the lawsuit, which was first filed in 2006.

“Napster, Kazaa, Suprnova, LokiTorrent,” Fung wrote. “Big names have come and gone, and the Internet has changed. One would think we, the people of the Internet, are losing to the copyright cartels, but I think different. I saw solidarity against tyranny in protests against [the Stop Online Piracy Act], which did not pass. ... I see musicians and filmmakers slowly but surely warming up to new possibilities of Internet distribution and promotion, abandoning notions of ‘1 download = 1 lost sale’ in the physical age.”

Fung would go on to say that he was “tired of this squabble and [them] trying to make me and isoHunt another scapegoat in their crusade of no historic meaning.”

The suit was filed in 2006 in federal court in New York and later moved to Los Angeles, where a judge ruled in favor of the studios in 2009. The Ninth Circuit court decision found that Fung had taken “no steps to develop filtering tools or other mechanisms to diminish the infringing activity by those using his services.”

“Consumers today have more options than ever before to legally access movies and TV shows on the Internet — from Hulu to HBO Go to Vudu to Crackle to UltraViolet and literally hundreds of others,” Dodd said. “Clearing the field of illegal services like isoHunt will help ensure that these legitimate services can grow and thrive, and that consumers have even more choices. The successful outcome of this landmark lawsuit will also will help preserve jobs and protect the tens of thousands of businesses in the creative industries, whose hard work and investments are exploited by sites like isoHunt.”

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