Following a court settlement, the popular BitTorrent website isoHunt is to be closed down and it’s owner, Gary Fung, told to pay $100 million to the Motion Picture Association of America.
The legal action was brought to the site by the MPAA, which represents film and television studios including 20th Century Fox, Paramount and Disney Studios; and isoHunt can now be added to the ever-increasing list of websites closed down by authorities for linking to copyrighted media. The huge fine will likely be a warning to other sites in the eyes of the MPAA, though court documents did concede that it is very unlikely the company will be able to pay the entire $110 million (£62 million/€73 million) fine, and that the MPAA should only expect a more realistic figure of $2-$4 million from Fung.
Much like the Pirate Bay, which has been blocked by ISPs in some countries, isoHunt has never actually hosted copyrighted files on its own servers, but rather acts as a search engine of sorts that links to other sites that store the illegal content (an unbelievable 17 petabytes (17,000 TB/17,000,000 GB) of it in this case). For a long time, this allowed it to escape the law through various loopholes, but laws have now been significantly tightened and recent examples would appear to show that it is no longer acceptable to act as even a middleman where copyrighted media is involved.
This news comes just weeks after authorities ordered several other torrent sites to cease operating, and ironically after the LSE released a report detailing their conclusion that online piracy is not killing the entertainment industry, despite frequently being claimed by the MPAA and its members.