isoHunt, one of the largest BitTorrent search engines, has already struggled with its fair share of legal woes in a four-year battle against the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). Now the site is on the defense again, this time in a multi-million dollar copyright infringement lawsuit initiated by 26 record labels including Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal.
The lawsuit alleges that isoHunt and two other torrent sites, Podtropolis and TorrentBox, owned by Gary Fung, are guilty of enough infringing activity that the prosecuting lawyers are asking for over 4 million dollars in punitive damages for their Canadian music industry clients.
“The isoHunt websites have been designed and are operated by the defendants with the sole purpose of profiting from rampant copyright infringement which defendants actively encourage, promote, authorize, induce, aid, abet, materially contribute to and commercially profit from,” says the court filing, which occurred last May but has somehow escaped media attention until this week.
While not all BitTorrent content violates copyright laws, the lawsuit asserts that “the vast majority of the downloading occurring with isoHunt websites are reproductions of copyright infringing content including infringing copies of sound recordings (including the plaintiffs sounds recordings), movies, TV programs, software, computer games, and books.”
Furthermore, the filing states that, “The defendants have the right and ability and the means to control and eliminate the unlicensed file sharing that takes place at and through the isoHunt websites,” but that “the defendants have deliberately not taken steps to control or eliminate unlicensed file sharing at or through the isoHunt websites as they profit from the infringing uses… and it would be contrary to their financial interests to do so.”
When reached for comment by TorrentFreak, Fung stated that the lawsuit was “identical” to a counterclaim that was filed by the labels against the site in 2008. At that time, isoHunt had sued the labels in an attempt to “legalize their operations”. This time, however, the outcome could be much more grim for the BitTorrent site, because Canada is attempting to enact new antipiracy legislation to shed the country’s reputation as a “piracy haven.”
Time will tell whether isoHunt and their sister sites have enough fight in them to make it through what undoubtedly will be another few years of litigation.