Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
After being found guilty of inducing copyright infringement at a massive scale and liable of paying millions in damages to the MPAA, isoHunt is asking a federal court of appeals to grant it a jury trial.
Approximately two weeks ago the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals made a decision in the isoHunt case. The three-judge panel ruled against Gary Fung (founder of isoHunt), making him liable of paying millions of dollars in damages to Hollywood’s studios.
Despite this decision, isoHunt is not yet ready to lay down its arms.
“Fung submits that, in a serious miscarriage of justice in a landmark case, he has been wrongfully denied trial by jury and found liable by judges on disputed facts through application of erroneous legal standards,” Ira Rothken (representing Fung), wrote to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday.
In an attempt to obtain a trail, Fung’s attorney asked the court of appeals to rehear the case, this time with a bigger panel of judges.
Furthermore, Rothken pointed to the fact that there is no difference between what Fung did and what Google does – that is not hosting infringing links but merely provide with them.
“No infringing materials touch Fung’s websites; he has no capacity to investigate or to police the internet,” he wrote.
His argument, however, may not appeal the court, who previously stated that unlike Google, Fung does not fall under the protection of U.S. copyright laws. The reason for that, the court continued, is because Fung’s business model was made to infringe copyright in the first place.
In response, Fung said that isoHunt was a search engine just like Google, and that it should be protected by the DMCA. He continued by saying that isoHunt acted on all takedown request from rights holders.
The court of appeals found him guilty anyway.
In a previous article on the subject, we’ve mentioned the court’s arguments about Fung posting messages that encouraged users to download files whenever they visit the website. To that, Rothken said:
“Liability based on messages culled from digital storage that are remote from any specific infringements at issue will severely chill free speech. The effect of decisions herein is to make sarcasm directed at copyright enforcement or statements in support of file-sharing a reason for later imposition of liability.”
If the court denies the request, Gary Fung will find himself in the position of paying a lot of money to the MPAA – that is up to $150.000 per infringement.
Stay tuned to find out more!
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Digital Media, Mobile Phones, P2P technology, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Hollywood studios in a lawsuit against the popular torrent indexer we know as isoHunt. The judge explained why isoHunt and its founder Gary Fung are not fit for safe harbor.
With several million torrents indexed and more than 7.5 million visitors, isoHunt was one of the most beloved services of this kind. We say “was”, because the service is probably going to close its gates permanently after the Ninth Circuit decided to hold the website and its owner accountable for inducing copyright infringement.
Judge Marsha Berzon notes (read the entire ruling here) that isoHunt was doing more than just gathering and classifying torrent files.
“Each time a torrent file is added to isoHunt, the website automatically modifies the torrent file by adding additional backup trackers to it,” she said.
Moreover, she also pointed to the fact that isoHunt kept an updated list of popular movies and TV shows, and featured a handy electronic message board.
A handful of movie studios, headed by Columbia Pictures, filed the lawsuit, claiming that isoHunt is guilty of inducing copyright infringement. The district court found Fung liable for contributory infringement; as a result, the court issued an injunction in which Fung was told to cease all activities that facilitate infringement of the plaintiff’s copyrighted content – that means removing roughly 21.000 works, including Dave, 21, and Cars.
In response, isoHunt’s founder used the Grokster case to point out that his service was doing nothing but indexing content.
“We cannot agree,” Judge Berzon replied.
“Unlike patents, copyrights protect expression, not products or devices. Inducement liability is not limited, either logically or as articulated in Grokster III, to those who distribute a ‘device.’”
However, the movie studios still had to prove Fung’s intent to induce copyright infringement, and apparently they did.
“Like Grokster’s advertisements—indeed, even more so—Fung’s posts were explicitly ‘designed to stimulate others to commit [copyright] violations,’ and so are highly probative of an unlawful intent,” the judge wrote.
To be more specific, the plaintiffs proved that isoHunt invited its users to “upload a torrent” for each of the 20 highest-grossing movies playing in the U.S. theatres at the time.
The judge agreed with the studios, who said that “if one provides a service that could be used to infringe copyrights, with the manifested intent that the service actually be used in that manner, that person is liable for the infringement that occurs through the use of the service.”
Fung’s was also denied safe harbor, as the Ninth Circuit believes that torrent trackers are not fit to be called “service providers” under the DMCA.
Combine that with the circuit’s decision that Fung had “red flag” knowledge about a wide range of infringing activities, and you’ll have a judge Berzon noting that “the record is replete with instances of Fung actively encouraging infringement, by urging his users to both upload and download particular copyrighted works, providing assistance to those seeking to watch copyrighted films, and helping his users burn copyrighted material onto DVDs. The material in question was sufficiently current and well-known that it would have been objectively obvious to a reasonable person that the material solicited and assisted was both copyrighted and not licensed to random members of the public, and that the induced use was therefore infringing.”
Fung’s only victory was over the injunction. The court of appeals asked the lower court to modify the injunction’s wide range accordingly.
In response to this ruling Henry Hoberman – the global general counsel for the MPAA, said:
“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.”
Filed under: Announcements & Events, File-Sharing Programs, Networks & Services
Although the American movie and music industries, alongside with the government, have tried to put an end to file-sharing in general, and to isoHunt in particular, the service managed to stay online. On the 22th of January 2013, isoHunt turned 10 and, with that occasion, we wish them Happy Birthday!
One of the oldest torrent hubs turned 10 years old just two days ago. We are, of course, talking about isoHunt, a place where quality torrents and an outstanding community combine with one purpose: file-sharing!
“When I started isoHunt during engineering school, I truly did not think I’d be working on it for 10 years, but here I am. Napster, Kazaa, Suprnova, LokiTorrent. 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,” Gary Fung (the website’s owner) commented.
Not only the service managed to overcome the entertainment’s efforts to shut it down, but it did so by staying on the very top of the pyramid. As such, isoHunt is to be found on the top 10 of 2012′s most visited torrent sites.
Fung also said that his “baby” ”just passed half a million fans on our Facebook page. Along with the millions of users who have frequented isoHunt the last 10 years, thanks for your support! Cheers to the next 10″.
After MPAA’s victory on isoHunt, the latter has been court ordered to apply a keyword filter from the MPAA to block any content that matches words blacklisted by the trade group.
As expected, a lot of legitimate content was as well blocked, a TechDirt report shows. A good example would be Brian Taylor’s short horror film called “The Bite”. He released the movie via his En Queue Film production studio, and chose to distribute it to the public with the help of isoHunt. But then something happened…
“I got it going, had downloads start from the US and Europe almost immediately, which made me a very happy guy,” Taylor told TorrentFreak.
But his happiness didn’t last; as he tried to access the torrent from a US connection the following day he was greeted by this message: “Torrent has been censored, as required by US court.”
Oh, what a great victory for the MPAA, who is continuously claiming that intellectual property is their greatest concern.
“The guv bums are bought (via lies, lobbying, bribes, whatever), and the independent artists cannot afford to purchase any justice, and so they will have no justice. Also, ‘raketeering?’ Wouldn’t that mean ‘engaged in raking’?),” a user’s comment rightfully points out the obvious.
But with courts of law that repeat the same mistakes over and over again – we remind the Napster case where a court ordered them to apply keyword filtering, a method which, of course, did not paid off, same as now keyword filters are blocking legal content – it’s no wonder the MPAA is doing what it wishes.
Filed under: Announcements & Events, Entertainment Industry, Legal P2P News & Issues
Google’s attempts to overcome its own piracy liabilities have now taken the form of censoring all of the renowned file-sharing websites from its Autocomplete and Instant services.
By filtering words like “torrents”, “BitTorrent” and “RapidShare” a rapid decrease in Google’s searches has been noticed, a TorrentFreak report shows. When they started the filtering system at the beginning of 2011, only a few piracy-related terms were censored, but now, with SOPA coming in hard, everyone’s being cautious, and they should be.
Search terms like “thepiratebay,” “the pirate bay,” “isohunt,” “torrentreactor,” “btjunkie,” “kickasstorrents,” “sumotorrent,” “btmon,” “extratorrent” and so on were excluded from Google’s “Autocomplete” and “Instant”.
The updated blacklist includes rogue sites like 4shared, filesonic and fileserve. Even if Google is not censoring the website itself, the filtering system proves to be working as the graphic below shows a significant drop in Google’s searches for the “banned” terms.
Graphic for Hotfile searches after being censored in January
Regarding the efficiency of the system, Google’s spokesman Mistique Cano told TorrentFreak:
“While there is no silver bullet for infringement online, this measure is one of several that we have implemented to curb copyright infringement online.”
“This is something we looked at and thought we could make some narrow and relatively easy changes to our Autocomplete algorithm that could make a positive difference,” he added.
On the other side, isoHunt’s owner Gary Fung told TF that Google’s actions may lead to an unwanted and unfortunate path.
“It’s a lot more subtle than the censorship attempts made possible by the pending PROTECT IP and SOPA bills, but it’s still censorship and it starts small. Google is increasingly becoming a self-righteous Big Brother of the Web. So much for ‘Do no evil’.”
Pirate Bay had something to say as well:
”It’s just another step towards censoring their search engine altogether – without a legal basis. We’re also wondering why this happens at almost the same time as they’ve released Google Music – a service where they sell music which in some cases might be found on The Pirate Bay,” a Pirate Bay insider confessed to TF.
Against all criticism and implications, Google is determined to widen its filtering list.