Isohunt, the decade-old and immensely popular BitTorrent search engine, will shut down within the week as part of an agreement with the MPAA. In a ruling posted by Wired, site founder Gary Fung and several film companies set the terms of a long-running copyright infringement suit, which Fung essentially lost in March. As part of the deal, Fung has seven days to permanently shut down Isohunt and three other domains: Podtropolis, TorrentBox, and Edtk-it.com, all of which redirect to Isohunt. He’s also agreed to pay the plaintiffs $110 million in damages.
Isohunt has been tangling with the film industry since 2006, after the MPAA alleged it was encouraging copyright infringement on a massive scale. While Isohunt served links to torrents of songs, software, and films, Fung argued that he was protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor policy, which limits internet services’ liability for what passes through their networks. The court, however, didn’t agree. It determined that Fung had been well aware of piracy on his network and done nothing to prevent it, actively asking for people to upload torrents of specific films and helping people find copyrighted content.
MPAA head Chris Dodd said the decision “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.” Fung, meanwhile, posted a farewell message on his website. “It’s sad to see my baby go,” he wrote. “But I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 10.5 years of Isohunt has been a long journey by any business definition, and forever in internet startup time.”