19 Oct 2013

IsoHunt to close as part of settlement with Hollywood studios

10:07 am on 19 October 2013

The popular BitTorrent website Isohunt is to shut down following a court settlement and its owner has agreed to pay $US110 million to the Motion Picture Association of America.

A group of companies, including Disney, Paramount and Twentieth Century Fox, accused the site of wilfully infringing copyright by listing millions of popular movies and TV programmes - in a court battle that has lasted for more than seven years.

IsoHunt is one of the most popular sites of its kind on the internet.

The site's owner, Canadian Gary Fung said in a blog post he had "fought the good fight" over the site that had "started as a programming hobby" in his university days.

MPAA chairman Chris Dodd said the move was a major step forward for legitimate commerce online.

"It 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."

Court documents acknowledged that it is unlikely that Mr Fung's company could pay $US110 million , and that the MPAA would probably receive between $US2 million and $US4 million.

Like a similar site, The Pirate Bay, that has been blocked in the UK by a court order, IsoHunt did not host pirated material itself. Instead it acted as a directory of sources from which to download illegal files.

According to court documents, Mr Fung's defence hinged on this degree of separation and argued that it was the users of IsoHunt responsible for distributing pirated material, not IsoHunt. The Californian court disagreed.

Ahead of the ruling, Mr Fung said on social news site Reddit that he did not hold a disregard for the law, and acted upon requests to remove links to pirated content when the company was made aware.

He also said the industry could render sites like IsoHunt obsolete if it offered simultaneous releases worldwide, as well as digital offerings that were cheaper than physical copies.