isoHunt Tries The 'Just A Search Engine' Defense

from the let's-see-how-this-works dept

isoHunt, one of the BitTorrent tracker sites that the MPAA generated publicity for with a lawsuit a couple of years ago, has filed a response to the judge's request for more information on how BitTorrent and BitTorrent tracker sites work. The MPAA, of course, positioned isoHunt as a den of piracy. But isoHunt, following the lead of TorrentSpy, has pointed out to the judge that it's no different than a search engine, indexing the various BitTorrent files out there. isoHunt, itself, is never involved in copyright infringement and, of course, there are plenty of authorized BitTorrent trackers out there. It will be interesting to see a judge finally rule on this issue. TorrentSpy lost its case, but not over this issue. In that case, the guys at TorrentSpy destroyed evidence -- which is a huge no-no. Hopefully a judge recognizes why search engines shouldn't be blamed for infringement that results from the use of the website.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Ben, May 6th, 2008 @ 4:56am

    Not a tracker

    You could argue all day over whether running a bit torrent tracker is helping people infringe copyrights but the crucial issue with ISO hunt is that it really really is just a serach engine. It indexes the web for .torrent files and provides links to them, it does not run any kind of tracker itself. In this way it is exactly like google except google provides links to a broader range of content, not just .torrent files.

     

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  2.  
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    Liam, May 6th, 2008 @ 5:24am

    Re: Not a tracker

    add "filetype:torrent" to your search and google will only list torrent files

     

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  3.  
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    Pete Valle, May 6th, 2008 @ 5:32am

    Google next?

    If ISO Hunt loses this case, what's next? Could search companies like Google be next? After all, they do index torrent files. Or will the RIAA shy away from giants as Google because they know they have loads of cash they can use to effectively defend themselves, something minor players like TorrentSpy and ISO Hunt don't have?

     

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  4.  
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    SteveD, May 6th, 2008 @ 5:38am

    Just a search engine?

    You can break copyright law with google just as easily as you can with torrent trackers, for example the case of the 'Here comes another Bubble' video a few months back.

    If the judge can be convinced of this, it simply becomes a matter of deciding if isoHunt was pro-actively encoraging filesharing or not. isoHunt have their 'takedowns on request' policies as a defence, but its proven far less effective then Youtube and the judge could decide that they arn't doing enougth in comparison to regulate the service.

    But then, how do you regulate the internet...

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 6:03am

    Re: Just a search engine?

    The thing with YouTube is, they are actively hosting the content. Its user submitted content, but it resides on YouTube's servers.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Overcast, May 6th, 2008 @ 6:05am

    Agree SteveD - In all honestly - I use Google to search for torrents.

    True Statement - although many times I end up art ISOhunt, but not always.

    I just found Google to be better at it.

     

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  7.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 6:22am

    Re: Google next?

    Or will the RIAA shy away from giants as Google because they know they have loads of cash they can use to effectively defend themselves, something minor players like TorrentSpy and ISO Hunt don't have?

    This would be, I think, hitting the proverbial nail on the head.

     

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  8.  
    icon
    shanoboy (profile), May 6th, 2008 @ 7:40am

    Re: Re: Not a tracker

    Awesome tip Liam. I can't believe I never knew that.

    Nice page to bookmark:
    http://www.google.com/help/features.html#pdf

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Daniel, May 6th, 2008 @ 8:05am

    Re: Just a search engine?

    But just because you're breaking copyright law doesn't mean Google (or ISOHunt) is at fault. If I get in my Ford and run someone over, or use it as an escape vehicle for a bank robbery, should someone sue Ford? No.

     

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  10.  
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    ZeHawk, May 6th, 2008 @ 8:21am

    Not *just* a search engine

    "Only a search engine" argument doesnt completely fly. Sure its crawling other torrent sites for content, which is what Google is going as well. So that part is prbly OK.
    But the bigger service it is offering mankind is the aggregation service or acting as a bulletin board for people to post and locate trackers. For sure, the content does not reside on isohunt, but its an information broker which is helping people share copyrighted stuff. And that might be struck down.
    I'm of course praying that its not closed down.

     

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  11.  
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    Just Me, May 6th, 2008 @ 8:49am

    #10

    How does that differ from what Google does for web sites?

     

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  12.  
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    ZeHawk, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:43am

    @#11: Google is crawling pages hosted by other sites, right? isohunt is allowing you to use a client sitting on your local PC and post torrent trackers directly into its database, which it is then storing and displaying. A bit diff from a search engine approach, I would imagine.

     

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  13.  
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    cowherd, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:15am

    Re: Google next?

    Possible reason ISOHunt is being targetted and Google is not:

    ISOHunt:

    Percentage of searches for copyrighted material: 99%

    Google:

    Percentage of searches for copyrighted material: 6%

    This is why Napster lost their case. The vast majority of use was for infringing purposes. This same argument spells doom for ISOHunt, but *not* for Google.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:21am

    Re: Re: Just a search engine?

    Heh..

    I know it was rhetorical, but...

    If they designed a vehicle which was suited to, and used by the vast majority of operators, to kill, yes, one could easily go after Ford.

    Claiming they cannot control their own network doesn't help...

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    cowherd, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:22am

    Re: #10

    Intent and majority use.

     

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  16.  
    identicon
    Ninja, May 6th, 2008 @ 10:27am

    Re: Re: Re: Not a tracker

    Funny stuff.

    Many argue that the pirates aren't the one's causing the problems...

    Many argue that sites like ISOHunt provide a valuable service to those looking for legitimate torrents.

    One has to wonder how those folks looking for legitimate torrents on ISOHunt feel about the pirates who have now caused ISOHunt to be singled out and likely soon to be shut down.

    One then has to wonder how much we'll love those harmless little pirates when they all migrate to Google, skewing it's "major" usage and getting it shut down as well.

    One might begin to wish these harmless little pirates would stick to their own little "darknets" and leave the rest of the internet out of their tiresome little games.

     

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  17.  
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    Mike (profile), May 6th, 2008 @ 1:58pm

    Re: Re: Google next?

    ISOHunt:

    Percentage of searches for copyrighted material: 99%

    Google:

    Percentage of searches for copyrighted material: 6%


    Have a citation on that? You do realize that nearly all searches on Google are for copyrighted material? Just about any new content is covered by copyright from the moment it's created.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Not a tracker

    "One might begin to wish these harmless little pirates would stick to their own little 'darknets'"

    Us real pirates do stick to our darknets, it's the rest of you wannabe newbie pirates that rape the shit out of public torrent sites.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 2:12pm

    Re: Re: Re: Google next?

    Miss the point for the technicality much?

    Switch "copyrighted content" for "infringing purposes".

    You can mince words all you want, the point remains.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), May 6th, 2008 @ 2:32pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Google next?

    Switch "copyrighted content" for "infringing purposes".

    Ok. So where does the law include a %? What is the cutoff according to the law?

    You can mince words all you want, the point remains.

    Does it?

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 6th, 2008 @ 9:31pm

    about that "evidence" you speak of...

    If I'm not badly mistaken about which case the original poster cited, the "evidence" the judge found that they destroyed had to do with them not logging ALL contents of the servers RAM, in its entirety. Dynamic Memory is not feasible to store - thus the _DYNAMIC_ part of the name - and the Judge in question was about as tech savvy as your garden variety turnip.
    That brings me to another complaint, "Piracy" is ill-termed. It is equivalent children stealing candy, not Barbary Pirates. Whither the ESA, RIAA, MPAA -- whatever. They spend more on prosecuting so-called Piracy than they ever get back. The only reason it makes sense, in many cases, is as a convenient scapegoat that they can cite to investors/etc as to why they're loosing money. I just find it interesting that, while obviously troublesome to see a product you have worked on being taken, and used for free, the companies that are most vociferous in prosecuting "piracy" are also the ones posting the largest losses. Never mind that the numbers these groups trot out always assumes that every copy misappropriated is a sale lost. Hmm. By that logic, Cola and snack food companies should be loosing sales every time they hand out their products for free. Yet, somehow it doesn't seem to work that way. SOME of those samples of the product lead to sales, the rest result in someone trying a product that, if they had had to pay for it, they would not have tried out.
    Nope, it couldn't possibly be a failure to adapt a business model to changing market and consumer demands. Never mind that, as one example, book publisher Baen Books has a free library, full of complete copies of their authors books completely accessible to the public, DRM free, in several formats, and is making a killing with it, with much of the contents of that _FREE_ library in back order status quite often, in spite of the free, and unrestricted access and format.

    I suppose what I am most irked about is the whole "treat the customer as a criminal" mindset that exists throughout most of the "content" industry.
    I suppose it doesn't matter. I will simply refuse to purchase products and services that lock me down, and treat me like a thief-in-waiting. I know many others who do the same. As long as the various "content providers" choose to treat me as a criminal just waiting to bilk them out of a sale, I will treat them to the absence of my money.
    Capitalism at its finest, money talks.

     

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  22.  
    icon
    Mike (profile), May 7th, 2008 @ 1:39am

    Re: about that "evidence" you speak of...

    If I'm not badly mistaken about which case the original poster cited, the "evidence" the judge found that they destroyed had to do with them not logging ALL contents of the servers RAM, in its entirety. Dynamic Memory is not feasible to store - thus the _DYNAMIC_ part of the name - and the Judge in question was about as tech savvy as your garden variety turnip.

    Yes, if you click through and read the earlier article, I discuss that.

    But that wasn't all. They also destroyed specific forum posts. *That* was bad. I agreed and had written vehemently against the judge considering the failure to log data as being destruction of evidence.

    But there was other evidence that *was* purposely destroyed.

    That was a huge mistake.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2008 @ 5:45am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Google next?

    The word is majority.

    To most folk, that means over 50%.

    Law? None to speak of. Case-Law? One need only look as far as Napster. That is what lost them the case.

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2008 @ 5:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Google next?

    "Ok. So where does the law include a %? What is the cutoff according to the law?"

    Miss the first post where the Napster case is specifically mentioned as where the majority/percentage bit came from?

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Rekrul, May 7th, 2008 @ 3:48pm

    The RIAA won't sue Google because Google is already a good little copyright cop. Sure, they don't yet filter torrent files, but try searching for MP3 files with the filetype option. Put in;

    spears filetype:mp3

    And you get no hits at all. Do they honestly expect me to believe that there isn't a single MP3 copy of Britney's song on the entire web?

     

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  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2008 @ 3:59pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Google next?

    The word is majority.

    To most folk, that means over 50%.

    Law? None to speak of. Case-Law? One need only look as far as Napster. That is what lost them the case.
    the Napster decision made no such "50%" distinction.

     

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  27.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2008 @ 4:03pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Google next?

    Miss the first post where the Napster case is specifically mentioned as where the majority/percentage bit came from?
    Actually, that's not true. The courts have held that even if a "majority" of a technology's usage is to infringe, it is still protected as long as it has any significant legitimate use.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 7th, 2008 @ 4:08pm

    Re: Re: Re: Just a search engine?

    If they designed a vehicle which was suited to, and used by the vast majority of operators, to kill, yes, one could easily go after Ford.
    Care to guess how many people are killed by or in Fords (or any other make) each year? Certainly enough to show that they are suited to killing. Majority / minority has nothing to do with it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    identicon
    plutofly, May 7th, 2008 @ 7:16pm

    Re:

    The RIAA won't sue Google because Google is already a good little copyright cop. Sure, they don't yet filter torrent files, but try searching for MP3 files with the filetype option. Put in;

    spears filetype:mp3

    And you get no hits at all. Do they honestly expect me to believe that there isn't a single MP3 copy of Britney's song on the entire web?
    That's probably because Google doesn't index mp3 files (what is there to index in a binary file?).

    Do a generic search for filetype:mp3 and take a look at the top right corner:

    Results 1 - 10 of about 269 for filetype:mp3. (0.25 seconds)

    To do what you wanted to do, search for spears mp3. There's your 1.5 million results.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Chris, Apr 27th, 2012 @ 7:03pm

    Without Google and yahoo etc. I would never have found Isohunt. Who owns or started "the internet", copyright infringement should be their responsibility. Perhaps Big business like financial institutions and media corporations would prefer that the internet be shut down, I think not. If boofheads in the legal system keep on making decisions for the rest of us (the people) perhaps we should all turn off our computers and see what the fall out would really be. The internet is such an effective and important tool because people use it,however, the social side like communication, gaming, file hosting, movies and music are one of the main attractions. Stop that and people may as well throw their computers away.

    Just a few thoughts

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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