IsoHunt To Shutter, Pay $110M To MPAA
IsoHunt said in papers filed today in federal court in Los Angeles that it will pay $110 million to the Motion Picture Association of America, and will stop operating isohunt.com and other sites, in order to settle a 7-year-old copyright lawsuit. The move comes seven months after the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a ruling that IsoHunt infringed copyright by intentionally encouraging piracy.
Earlier in the proceedings, IsoHunt unsuccessfully argued that it was entitled to the same protections from copyright infringement as Google and other search engines. In general, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbors provide that search engines are immune from copyright liability if they remove links to infringing content upon request.
But search engines can lose that immunity by actively encouraging infringement. In IsoHunt's case, a trial judge and appellate panel said the company did so.
While IsoHunt is shutting down after losing its court battle, it's worth noting that even companies that prevail in battles with the entertainment industry can shut down. For instance, a trial judge and appellate court ruled in favor of the video-sharing service Veoh, which was sued for copyright infringement by Universal Music Group. The courts found that Veoh was protected by the DMCA because it responded to complaints by taking down infringing clips that were uploaded by users.
But while the case was pending, Veoh declared bankruptcy and was absorbed by Qlipso Media Networks.
Digital locker service MP3tunes also won a major battle in court, but couldn't prevent heavy financial losses. A federal judge in New York ruled in 2011 that the company was entitled to rely on the DMCA's safe harbor provisions. Nonetheless, the company declared bankruptcy the following year.