Isohunt may shut down after court ruling

A U.S. judge has ordered Bit Torrent search site Isohunt to remove all infringing content, a ruling that will probably result in the site’s demise.

Isohunt and the Motion Picture Association of America have been doing battle for years. The movie industry trade group sued Isohunt founder Gary Fung in 2006, and he moved his servers from the United States to Canada the following year, after his Internet service provider abruptly shut the site down. U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson ruled in favor of the MPAA last December, foreshadowing the injunction Wilson has now ordered.

Isohunt may shut down after court ruling

Wilson said Fung must stop “creating, maintaining or providing access to browsable website categories of dot-torrent or similar files using or based on infringement-related terms.” As Wired points out, Wilson requires Isohunt to stop keyword searching for infringing torrent files, a task performed by the site’s search engine.

Fung tried to work out an arrangement in which the Motion Picture Association of America would provide a list of specific links to torrent files, and Fung would remove them. But Ars Technica reports that the court rejected Fung’s offer. His only choice now is to remove all links to infringing torrents, as the court requested.

Fung told Wired that Wilson’s decision will likely shutter the site, which currently pulls in 30 million unique visitors per month. His two other sites, Torrentbox and Podtropolis, are also included in the ruling.

This case is significant because it’s the first U.S. ruling on the legality of a Bit Torrent site. The outcome is similar to the case of Mininova, which was ordered to remove infringing torrent links last year by a Dutch court. Mininova has since gone legal, resulting in major traffic declines.

Like Mininova, Isohunt doesn’t host its own tracker. Supporters of the site liken it to a Google search, but studios argued that IsoHunt’s search engine was specifically made to find copyrighted material. Indeed, judge Wilson pointed out in his ruling that roughly 95 percent of downloads from Isohunt are copyrighted — a figure Fung could not dispute with evidence.