ISOHunt torrent search engine hit with injunction

ISOHunt has two weeks to remove torrents linking to content under copyright

One of the most popular engines for searching for movies and music distributed via BitTorrent has been ordered to remove links to illegally shared content, marking a victory for the entertainment industry.

ISOHunt.com and three other Web sites are subject to an injunction issued by the US District Court for the Central District of California that bars the sites from serving up torrents leading to certain content under copyright. Torrents are small data files that enable the downloading of content using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs such as uTorrent.

The permanent injunction, issued on May 20 by US District Judge Stephen V. Wilson , marks the latest court action against ISOHunt. In December 2009, the court found that Gary Fung "induced infringement" in violation of US copyright law.

Fung, who runs the company ISO Web Technologies, has said he would not take steps to prevent copyright infringement unless ordered by a court, according to court documents.

Fung was sued by Columbia Pictures Industries. Fung's Web sites were visited by up to 2.5 million US citizens monthly, and the Web sites collectively were visited more than 50 million times each month. More than 95 percent of the material on the sites infringes copyright, according to statistical evidence from the plaintiffs, the documents said.

Wilson wrote that amounted to a "staggering volume of infringement of the plaintiff's copyrights" and one in which the plaintiffs were unlikely to be fully compensated.

"Defendants operated their Web sites as popular destinations for copyright infringement and etched their niche in the market for infringement," Wilson wrote. "Defendants were enormously successful in building a user base of infringers that, by defendant's own account, number in the millions."

The Web sites subject to the permanent injunction include www.isohunt.com, www.podtropolis.com, www.torrentbox.com and www.ed2k-it.com. Fung is prohibited from hosting, indexing or linking to torrents that point to copyrighted works or running tracker servers, which coordinated the download of content on a peer-to-peer network.

The court also barred the sites from processing searches using terms associated with file sharing, such as "warez," "Axxo," "Jaybob," "DVD Rips," "Cam," "Telesync," "Telecine," "Screener" and "PPV," the injunction read.

Wilson also rejected ISOHunt's launch in April of a modified "lite" site created in response to the December judgement. "Defendants' proposed "primal" or "lite" website contains all of the same indexing and searching functions as the original websites, only with a different interface for the users to operate," Wilson wrote.

Fung will be provided with lists of infringing content that he must remove, according to the injunction. He could be held in contempt of court if he does not comply with the order, or be subject to other penalties.

Send news tips and comments to jeremy_kirk@idg.com.

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