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Torrent site isoHunt to close

Founder fighting on to disprove causal connection between links and piracy

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BitTorrent index isoHunt.com will close next week after it agreed to a settlement the terms of which say it must “permanently cease and desist from directly or indirectly operating or supporting any part of the 'ISOhunt' system”.

The site has fought lengthy legal disputes with Big Content, which accused it of facilitating theft of its products by providing its index linking to stolen files. A settlement reached on Thursday in the USA brings The Motion Picture Association of America's action to a close. A $110m damages bill is on its way to ISOhunt and the cease and desist order meaning that re-opening the site would be a very, very, silly idea indeed.

The MPAA's statement (PDF) declares the settlement a win for entertainment industry jobs and legal content download services.

isoHunt founder Gary Fung has expressed his sadness, but also seems to be trying to fight on by making a legal point about the extent of his culpability.

“It’s sad to see my baby go,” Fung writes, “But I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.”

He's also trying to take his case to the Supreme Court of the USA, which he believes should consider “To what extent should a Web search engine be held to 'cause' infringement that occur off the Web, on BitTorrent swarms and clients, within a large ecosystem with many websites and many search engines, including generic search engines such as Google and Yahoo?”

Fung's petition for a Writ of Certiorari notes that Google and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have helped out in lower courts.

On The Reg's reading of the application, Fung appears to be pointing out that the case that succeeded against isoHunt ignored precedents in a similar case involving Grokster in which that service was held not to be the cause of piracy even though it hosted links. The District Court's decision against isoHunt, the petition argues, is dangerous for the following reasons:

“By creating a new and relaxed standard for secondary liability, the Ninth Circuit has empowered plaintiffs—including the massive entertainment companies that brought this lawsuit—to isolate specific participants in a multi-actor marketplace, threaten them with vast liability for inducing infringement by others, and obtain broad injunctive relief, effectively shutting them down. This is a dangerous and costly power that could have vast ramifications, if the Ninth Circuit’s approach is allowed to stand.”

Filing a petition for a Writ of Certiorari doesn't mean the Supreme Court has to consider a case, but is the first step towards getting the issues raised a future hearing. ®

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