The founder of popular Bit Torrent site IsoHunt, Gary Fung, has been ordered to remove the .torrent files for all infringing content—an order that could result in the site shutting down. US District Judge Stephen Wilson issued the order last week after years of back-and-forths over the legality of IsoHunt and Fung's two other sites (Torrentbox and Podtropolis). Fung claims he's still hoping for a more agreeable resolution that won't result in IsoHunt closing its doors, but for now, things aren't looking good for the torrent site.
Judge Wilson's order follows a summary judgement against Fung in December 2009. At that time, Wilson said that Fung had completely failed to rebut the claims brought against him by the MPAA. The movie studios had brought in expert witnesses stating that a statistical sampling of the content and server logs showed that nearly all of the content infringed copyrights, and about half of the downloads were made within the US. Fung dismissed this as "junk science" but did not present any sort of evidence showing that this wasn't a valid approach.
Fung previously tried to argue that his sites were just another search engine that just happened to pick up copyrighted content, but the studios countered with evidence that his search code was specifically tuned to find copyrighted material.
Now, Fung is stuck between a rock and a hard place as he tries to find a way to comply with his injunction without shutting down. Judge Wilson has barred Fung from creating, maintaining or providing access to categories with .torrent files, search results with .torrent files, or any "similar files using or based on Infringement-Related Terms."
This means that the basic search functionality of IsoHunt, Torrentbox, or Podtropolis would no longer be permissible under the injunction, not to mention that it would be nearly impossible for Fung to actively investigate every single file to see whether it's legal or not. Fung believes this goes outside of the DMCA and that the MPAA should provide a list of links to files that it wants taken down instead. "We’re discussing the mechanics, the process that is reasonable for an injunction. We’re still trying to hope that the judge will do the right thing," Fung told Wired.
The MPAA did not respond to our request for comment by publication time, so it's unclear how willing it will be when it comes to working with Fung. Given how well things have gone for Fung so far, though, it doesn't look very promising.
Source: ars technica