Judge Prohibits File Sharer isoHunt From Knowingly Hosting Copyrighted Material

A federal judge in California has issued a permanent injunction prohibiting BitTorrent search engine isoHunt and its founder, Gary Fung, from knowingly encouraging users to share pirated material. The order, issued Thursday at the request of movie studios, also bans isoHunt and Fung from knowingly hosting links to material that infringes on copyright or advertising the availability of such material.

U.S. District Court Judge Stephen Wilson said in his ruling that the studios would suffer "irreparable harm" without the injunction. "Given the staggering volume of infringement of plaintiffs' copyrights, it is extremely unlikely that Defendants will be able fully to compensate plaintiffs monetarily," Wilson wrote.

The order follows Wilson's ruling last year granting summary judgment to the studios. Wilson rejected isoHunt's argument that it was protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act's safe harbor provisions, which generally state that sites are not responsible for users' copyright infringement. Instead, Wilson found that isoHunt wasn't eligible for the safe harbors because the site induced infringement. "Inducement liability is based on active bad faith conduct," he wrote. "The statutory safe harbors are based on passive good faith conduct aimed at operating a legitimate internet business."

Wilson said in his order on Thursday that isoHunt is continuing to offer problematic material, including "a 'top searches' feature (which invariably includes all, or almost all, copyrighted works)."

The injunction also says that Fung "has affirmatively stated that he will not take steps to prevent infringement on his websites unless he is ordered to do so."

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