Isohunt man complains takedown injunction too broad

By | Published on Thursday 17 June 2010

More file-sharing for you now, and an update on Isohunt, a Canadian BitTorrent search service and tracker that has similarities with The Pirate Bay.

As previously reported, Isohunt founder Gary Fung has taken an alternative approach to everything in his home country by suing the Canadian Recording Industry Association, in a bid to get a Canadian judge to deem that his service is legal.

He’s using the usual defence presented by companies who provide file-sharing services, ie that his servers don’t host any infringing content, so he can’t be guilty of infringement. While such an argument wouldn’t work in the US, UK or Australia, given the whims of Canadian copyright law, it’s not a foregone conclusion that Fung won’t get the judicial all-clear he desires.

But things are less rosy for Team Isohunt south of the border, where the Motion Picture Association Of America won a summary judgment in their favour late last year that ruled the BitTorrent service infringed copyright. An injunction followed in March ordering Isohunt to remove any content owned and named by MPAA members from its indexes.

According to Wired, Fung is now challenging that injunction, arguing it is too broad in its remit. One of the issues Fung’s challenge raises is that MPAA member have sent through lists of films they want blocked, but it includes things like ‘Alice In Wonderland’ and ‘Dracula’. While the MPAA mean recent film versions of these stories, Fung argues that users of Isohunt may be sharing other files that carry these names that are not protected by copyright, or where the copyright owners have granted permission for their content to be shared. Fung says film studios should have to provide specific links to their content.

Isohunt’s legal man told Wired: “One person’s copyrighted ‘Wizard Of Oz’ is another person’s public domain work. The motion picture studios do not have a monopoly on the names on things. That is where the injunction is violating the First Amendment”.

The judge who issued the injunction has said he won’t suspend it unless told to do so by an appeals court, though he did say that the works Isohunt must block when presented with a list of titles were only the “film and television works copyrighted by plaintiffs”. Though I think that’s sort of stating the obvious.