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BitTorrent site Isohunt loses MPAA fight, forced to somehow pay studios $110 million

Detailed recently by Forbes, Isohunt site owner Gary Fung has lost a court case against the MPAA which has resulted in the upcoming October 23 closure of the Isohunt site as well as a hefty $110 million monetary fine. However, it’s unclear how Fung will be able to pay the $110 million or if the MPAA will even receive a small portion of that sum. Prior to this point, the MPAA was seeking approximately $600 million in damages and the two parties have been fighting in court for over seven years. 

After the copyright infringement deal was announced, Fung released a statement on his personal blog which said “It’s sad to see my baby go. But I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 10.5 years of isoHunt has been a long journey by any business definition, and forever in Internet startup time.”

Fung continued “I’ve done the best I could pushing the social benefits of BitTorrent and file sharing, the searching and sharing of culture itself, but it’s time for me to move on to new software ideas and projects.” Fung did file an application with the Supreme Court to appeal the case, but no decision has been made regarding that application. 

illegal downloadingAlternatively, MPAA chairman also released a statement which said “Today’s settlement is a major step forward in realizing the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and innovation. It also sends a strong message that those who build businesses around encouraging, enabling, and helping others to commit copyright infringement are themselves infringers, and will be held accountable for their illegal actions.”

Dodd continued “Consumers today have more options than ever before to legally access movies and TV shows on the Internet – from Hulu to HBO Go to Vudu to Crackle to UltraViolet and literally hundreds of others. Clearing the field of illegal services like isoHunt will help ensure that these legitimate services can grow and thrive, and that consumers have even more choices.”

With all the ambiguity around the $110 million fine, it’s possible that this deal is more of a public relations move than an actual monetary victory for the MPAA. However, the MPAA claims that Isohunt is the “fourth most popular BitTorrent site on the Internet,” thus this deal could help curtail the spread of copyrighted material. According to Fung, Isohunt has about 44 million peers and nearly 14 million active torrents. Without Isohunt, people seeking copyrighted material will have to look elsewhere.

That being said, the MPAA won a similar case against TorrentSpy during 2008 which resulted in another large $111 million fine. Based on a simple Google search for any recently released movie, it’s clear that the announcement of that fine wasn’t enough to scare off other sites that list torrents that infringe on copyrighted material. If anything, the volume of sites that provide access to finding copyrighted material have increased over the last five years. 

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