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Freedom or piracy? - Isohunt

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While the founders of one of the world's largest free file-sharing websites, The Pirate Bay, have been sentenced to jail, a 26-year-old Vancouver man is taking on the global recording industry with his own lawsuit, asking the courts to rule that his BitTorrent site is totally above board.

And since Gary Fung is arguing that his site — isoHunt.com — is a search engine, this copyright case is being closely watched, because if he loses on those grounds it has implications for Google and every other website that offers links to copyright material.

In essence, he says, every search engine, in fact every website, that links to downloadable content that is copyright protected could be held liable.

"That is what we have been arguing in court," he said. "I think that is why the judges are having so much trouble deciding our case. There is nothing simple about it, and the ramifications are huge.

"It goes far beyond our sites, it goes far beyond BitTorents. It goes to core issues about what liabilities website owners have running a website on the Internet.

"It is the issue of 'linking' — what liability do you have for simply linking to material that is copyright?"

Sitting outside a Vancouver cafe, Fung flips out his iPhone to demonstrate how Web surfers can use Google to easily find torrent sites just as they could go to isoHunt. Simply specify that you want to search for torrent files — BitTorrents being a free, open-source file-sharing application — and that's enough to provide links for everything from free movies to music and games.

For example, type "Slumdog Millionaire filetype:torrent" in Google search and in minutes you could be watching the film.

isoHunt is awaiting a U.S. court decision in which it has been sued by the Motion Picture Association of America. It recently asked the B.C. Supreme Court to rule it is not infringing copyright with its websites that include isoHunt, TorrentBox, and Podtropolis. The judge said he cannot make a ruling without a full court hearing.

So will the file-sharing world be looking to this University of B.C. grad as a bastion of BitTorrents, or will his websites join others shutting down in the wake of The Pirate Bay decision?

Fung doesn't believe his sites will shut down anytime soon, nor does he fear the type of treatment meted out to The Pirate Bay founders, who are now appealing a recent Swedish court decision in the wake of revelations that the judge is a member of several anti-piracy organizations.

Firstly, Fung's court cases are civil, not criminal as in the case of The Pirate Bay. And secondly, Fung doesn't consider himself a pirate. While The Pirate Bay publicly mocks requests by copyright holders to take down copyright material or links to it, Fung said his company has a full-time employee dealing with requests to take down copyright material. Additionally, he argues that isoHunt is simply a search engine, and that it doesn't host copyright content.

"Eventually, I want to work with them," Fung says of the recording industry. "It is unfortunate that they are making a war of this."

The crux of the problem, according to Fung, is that the recording and movie industries have been unable to adapt to new technology that has fundamentally changed the way content is distributed. Peer-to-peer file sharing is here to stay, he says, and attempts to turn back the clock are doomed to fail.

"They have made war against consumers, suing thousands of people. And then they stopped suing consumers and they are trying to shut down websites," he said. "What they are doing is [like] wack-a-mole — they can shut down The Pirate Bay or other sites, but look at Napster and where that got them. Trying to shut down websites is not a solution, you shut one down and another will come up."

Fung started isoHunt as a hobby while he was still a student at UBC, where he studied computer engineering. Now he makes money from advertising on the site, but he won't say how much.

"Right now I have to say it is a business. We have to make money to sustain our business, and to sustain the lawsuits that are costing quite a bit."

Isohunt doesnt host files, so if they are sued successfully, then it will be open season on linking to any files, linking to this article is actually illegal, as it is copywrited and ive not requested to do so


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The site had posted some really good interesting comments on the whole issue of pir.

I am putting myself to the fullest possible use, which is all I think that any conscious entity can ever hope to do.

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attempts to turn back the clock are doomed to fail.
this is true in many fields, not just music/movies.

Imagine going back to to VHS tape, wind up cars, the Whig and Tory political parties, inaccurate theory of the earth being the center of the universe....

Some things just have a shelf life. Iron clad control of music and video is a thing of the past as it should be. Big dominating corporate monopolies aren't good for anybody. Peep to peer file sharing gives ppl the opportunity to experience music or movies or shows they wouldn't otherwise bother with. This can prompt the buying of cds, dvds and concert tickets, watching new shows and consequently the commercials. It can be argued file sharing is the zero cost advertising campaign for a lot of media. If I really like a movie or whatever I find online I go buy an official copy to support the artists/companies so they'll make more like it.

p2p gives the consumer more control over how they spend their cash. I wont buy a cd for 1 song if the rest of the album is crap. 1 song is not worth $15. I wont buy a series box set if only 2 or 3 episodes are worth watching. 3 episodes are not worth $40.

We speak loudest to corporate via which way we throw our money. You can look at the green movement as an example. Cleaner and more enviro friendly are "in" while dangerous chemical cleaning concotions and suv's are "out". Believe it or not these phases fads and transitions are in the control of the buying public. Us not GM or Kleenex or Warner Brothers.



                                               Look at the flowers

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