Gets preemptive and asks a judge to determine whether or not the BitTorrent tracker site is guilty of copyright infringement once and for all.
Back in May of this year BitTorrent tracker site isoHunt, along with its sister sites Torrentbox.com and Podtropolis.com, received a cease-and-desist letter from the Canadian Record Industry Association (CRIA). In the letters the CRIA claimed that the sites served no other purpose other than to engage in copyright infringement of the CRIA’s music catalogue.
“We pointed them to our copyright policy ( http://isohunt.com/dmca-copyright.php ), and that we have cooperated in the past in identification and takedown of links they wanted removed,” notes Gary Fung, President of isoHunt Inc.. “We asked them in subsequent letters to identify links to their copyrighted files as we had done in 2006. They ignored our offers, and cited there’s no “safe harbor” for a service provider like us and our copyright policy doesn’t mean anything to them in Canada.”
The site maintains that it removes links to copyrighted content when asked by the copyright holder.
“We have since tried to come to an understanding, but just as with the MPAA in the US, they ignored our offers of cooperation by the take down of .torrent links to their content files, so long as they provide sufficient identification,” Gary Fung told TorrentFreak.
As a result, isoHunt decided to pre-empt copyright infringement litigation threatened by the CRIA by suing them (Petition to the Court) so that the courts may clarify its legal rights.
“We intend to take this all the way up to the Canadian Supreme Court unless CRIA settles with us out of court in any reasonable way,” Fung added.
In his petition Fung points out that Google works just as isoHunt does, yet it indexes ACTUAL CONTENT! With isoHunt users can only search through .torrent (tracker) files whereas with Google you can search through music, movies, images, and more. In many cases you can even download many of them with a simple right-click of the mouse. In fact, Google Video is oftentimes home to full-length copyrighted movies.
In a posting on the isoHunt homepage, Fung writes:
isoHunt is a search engine of BitTorrent sites, and our sister sites are indices of direct user contributed .torrent links. None of the pieces of files exchanged over BitTorrent pass through our servers, they are exchanged over external P2P networks. We serve cached .torrent links to such files on P2P networks. Some of these files maybe copyright infringing, some aren’t. But given the ridiculously long copyright terms in most countries of the world (which does differ) and that all creative media are copyrighted by default (in many countries), large majority of files exchanged on the internet would be copyrighted. That includes Linux ISO images and your videos of friends and family doing wacky things. The real question is are they infringing against the wishes of respective copyright owners. We make and run a great search engine here at isoHunt, but we unfortunately do not have the technology to mind read what are the wishes of all copyright owners, or who they are to begin with in association with the tens of millions of files on BitTorrent, to which we only indexes metadata links and not actual content files. Whatever copyright laws or safe harbor provisions provided in different countries, the only sensible and technically possible thing to do we’ve found is to take down links to allegedly infringing content only upon request and verification. This part of the US’s DMCA is one which has much foresight and makes sense. (although not perfect obviously, it should add provisions for monetary punishment on erroneous notices as we receive plenty of ignorant or erroneous takedown requests and there isn’t much recourse about them, but that’s another topic).
His strongest point, which has repeatedly been made by The Pirate Bay, is that it doesn’t host copyrighted material only .torrent files which takes users to content. If secondary uses make a person liable for infringement then a number of sites, particularly search engines like Google, will also have to face such charges.
Bravo to Fung for making sure he gets his day in court on his own terms.