File-sharing service isoHunt will shut down as part of a $110 million (£68 million) copyright infringement deal reached with the Motion Picture Association of American (MPAA).
As part of the deal, isoHunt.com will close its doors on 23 October. Operator Gary Fung is banned from further infringement of MPAA content, and he must also pay $110 million (£68 million) in damages, but it's unclear whether he actually has access to that much cash. In that event, isoHunt will be no more, which is likely the MPAA's end game.
"Today's settlement is a major step forward in realizing the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and innovation," former Senator Chris Dodd, chairman and CEO of the MPAA, said in a statement. "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."
The fight dates back to 2006 when the MPAA first filed suit. In 2009, a California judge ruled in favor of the Hollywood studios, eventually ordering a permanent injunction and keyword filtering. But according to the MPAA, isoHunt ignored the injunction and continued operations via private servers in Canada. The case dragged on until March 2013, when a three-judge appeals panel upheld the 2009 ruling and found that Fung is not protected by the safe harbor provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
"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," Dodd said. "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."
There's no mention of a shutdown on isoHunt.com. The last post is from January, when Fung celebrated the site's 10th anniversary.
"Napster, Kazaa, Suprnova, LokiTorrent. Big names have come and gone, and the Internet has changed," he wrote at the time. "One would think we the people of the Internet are losing to the copyright cartels, but I think different."
The post went on to say that isoHunt's battle with the MPAA is "so ancient it's almost not even worth mentioning," accusing them of trying to make isoHunt into "another scapegoat in their crusade of no historic meaning."
Fung outlined his plan for the next 10 years, including a service known as isoHunt Spotlight, which he described as "Kickstarter, Netflix, Spotify, Gamefly, [and the] Kindle Owners' Lending Library rolled into one, with global licensing from day one that only makes sense for the Internet."
At the time, he said it was in the "planning stages." As part of the MPAA deal, however, Fung must "permanently cease and desist from directly or indirectly operating or supporting any part of the 'isoHunt system.'"
According to TorrentFreak's annual list of the most popular torrent sites, published in January, isoHunt landed at number four behind The Pirate Bay, Kickass Torrents, and Torrentz.
Image: Flickr (SalFalko)