IsoHunt to Shut Down

Owner of website found to have enabled piracy says 95% of its BitTorrent links can be found through Google

The founder of isoHunt pulled down the website’s directory of links to thousands of illegal file downloads early Monday — two days ahead of the deadline mandated in a settlement with Hollywood studios — but he doesn’t sound sorry about having run the piracy-enabling service for more than a decade.

Last Thursday, after seven years of litigation, the MPAA announced that isoHunt would shut down as part of a settlement in the massive piracy lawsuit filed by its member studios. IsoHunt agreed to pay $110 million for claims that the site induced piracy of movies and TV shows, although it is not clear whether studios will be able to recover anything close to that amount.

In a notice on the site Monday, isoHunt founder Gary Fung said an effort to archive links prior to the shutdown would not make much difference because “the truth is about 95% of those .torrent files can be found off Google regardless and mostly have been indexed from other BitTorrent sites in the first place.”

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The MPAA and others have called on Google to do more to fight online piracy. A study commissioned by the MPAA, released last month, found that 82% search queries that led to infringing URLs came via Google. The Internet company says it has numerous processes for combating piracy; among other steps, Google in 2012 disabled ad services to more than 46,000 sites for violating of its copyright policies.

IsoHunt.com — which carried the tagline “freedom of information” — had been among the most popular BitTorrent sites. It had listed more than 70 million active users over the past weekend, with more than 13 million active torrent downloads.

Fung, in a blog post Saturday, touted isoHunt as having a “world-class search engine” and praised his “awesome staff.” In the notice on the website he said it has been “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. Because as the Terminator would say with a German accent, ‘I’ll be backkk.’”

Under the settlement with the movie industry, Fung is prohibited from “further profiting from the infringement of MPAA member studio content.”

In a ruling this spring in the studios’ case against isoHunt, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that “there is more than enough unrebutted evidence in the summary judgment record to prove Fung offered his services with the object of promoting their use to infringe copyrighted material.” The court also found that isoHunt profited from the copyright infringement through advertising.

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