Judge In IsoHunt Case Tells MPAA It Needs To Actually Prove Infringement By US Residents

from the well,-that's-a-first dept

This is a first. In the trial that the movie studios have brought against torrent search engine Isohunt, the judge has pushed back on the MPAA’s claims, noting that it has failed to show any evidence of actual infringement by US users. In the past, groups like the MPAA and the RIAA have been able to get by without ever proving real infringement, but just by suggesting it must be happening. So this is quite a surprise. It makes the Isohunt case one to watch more seriously. The company may still lose the lawsuit, but at least the judge seems to want to see actual evidence, rather than having Hollywood execs insisting that these sites are killing their business just because they say so.

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Companies: isohunt, mpaa

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Comments on “Judge In IsoHunt Case Tells MPAA It Needs To Actually Prove Infringement By US Residents”

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63 Comments
Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“So I can put you in jail for stealing shit out of my house by proving that people do steal shit out of peoples houses?”

Look, we all know that houses are where Breaking and Entering occurs. Hell, they even assist with the breaking and entering by pointing these criminals to a DOOR?

Also, vehicles are where Grand Theft Auto occurs, same problem with doors.

Vaginas and buttholes are where rape occurs.

And streets allow people to Jaywalk.

So, the solution is simple: outlaw IsoHunt, houses, vehicles, streets, vaginas, and buttholes, and we’ll be all squared away…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“All the have to do is point at Jammie and Joel – proof that actual infringement does occur. NEXT.”

Wouldn’t they have to prove that they used IsoHunt specifically to get the torrents that they used to download and share music? Never followed those cases, but I doubt anyone specifically said, “they were using IsoHunt!”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Doesn’t matter – they were using P2P protocols, showing that illegal file sharing does exist (and people have been guilty of it) using the exact same technology and systems, etc. They are guilty in a court of law, it is proof that file trading exists under these systems.

I would suspect that a good lawyer could find the same music files on ISO Hunt in some manner, and that would be enough of a connection ๐Ÿ™‚

As a side note, a good lawyer would only have to have a third party log into ISOHunt, select a torrent, download it, and install it to show that infringing occurs. Heck, he could even instruct the judge on how to do it himself.

Esahc (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“As a side note, a good lawyer would only have to have a third party log into ISOHunt, select a torrent, download it, and install it to show that infringing occurs. Heck, he could even instruct the judge on how to do it himself.”

Can you please explain how ISO hunt dose this? I’ve used ISO hunt in the past and I can assure you that they don’t host any of the files. In fact this is how ISO hunt works: see Google.

The link to links that may or may not have infringing content.

batch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You are a tool.

I own guns. Guns have been used to hurt people. By your logic, the mere possession of such a thing means I hurt people. Too bad my criminal record doesn’t reflect your awe inspiring Sherlock abilities. P2P technology, possession, use or otherwise is not illegal.

Also, breaking the law by downloading doesn’t prove anything except that you’ve now committed a crime and can be held liable. That just might be why prosecutors don’t go around re-enacting the crimes they’re prosecuting. I don’t know though, I’m no Sherlock Holmes like you are.

RD says:

About damn TIME!

It’s about damn time SOMEONE in the corrupt judiciary exhibited some form of a CLUE. Pointing (linking) is NOT ILLEGAL (yet). Google still needs to be sued a’la TPB because they do the SAME THING. Of course, the *IAA’s of the world wont go NEAR a lawsuit against the big G, because they KNOW linking isnt infringement and the big G has the resources to bury them in court about it. So they pick on everyone else that has the same (in principle) system to set precedents and get big headlines.

Anonymous Coward says:

Specialism v. General

“how is this different than what Google offers”

Isohunt is a specialist site where the majority of the service is dedicated to one or two topics. Google is a general service that allows people to find content covering numerous topics.

I am pretty sure that lots of stuff has fallen through Google’s filters and it has links to torrents etc. but the proportion is tiny compared to everything else.

Google is also a passive aggregator whereas Isohunt is actively adding value to the otherwise tedious process of finding specific torrents.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Specialism v. General

Nothing in the law states that there is a threshold for the percentage of illegal content you are allowed to point to.

If 1% of the content Google indexes is illegal, and pointing to illegal content is against the law, then Google is running an illegal business. Period.

PRMan (profile) says:

Re: Re: Specialism v. General

“If 1% of the content Google indexes is illegal, and pointing to illegal content is against the law, then Google is running an illegal business. Period.”

Only in technology. In law, the 99% legal company will fare much better than the 99% illegal company, because if 99% of your stuff is illegal, it’s hard to say it wasn’t your intention.

Unlike TPB, ISOHunt does act on takedown requests all the time.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Specialism v. General

“Unlike TPB, ISOHunt does act on takedown requests all the time.”

and this is the main thing that makes them legitimate. We certainly shouldn’t expect them to be able to delete EVERY single infringing material instantly but if they make a reasonable effort and do a reasonable job at removing infringing material then we also shouldn’t artificially make the cost of these services more expensive because they don’t do a 100 percent perfect job at removing everything right away.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Specialism v. General

The phone book will allow you to locate businesses that sell lab equipment, pharmaceuticals, chemicals etc. but this is fundamentally different to a website that called “methcook.com” that aggregates all of these isolated innocent pieces of information in such a way as to be mainly of interest to people who want to cook meth.

The judge in this case is trying to determine whether the site was specifically designed to improve access to a particular kind of content and (the crucial part of the story) whether in doing so had been complicit in subsequent illegal activity in a jurisdiction over which the court has power.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Specialism v. General

“complicit in subsequent illegal activity in a jurisdiction over which the court has power.”

Are you absolutely sure about that? Are you saying that I can’t teach anyone how to pick locks because it’s illegal to pick locks in my state? Are you saying that I can’t teach anyone that taking a jug + gas + rag = crude incendiary device because it’s illegal to make those crude incendiary devices?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Specialism v. General

“I can’t teach anyone that taking a jug + gas + rag = crude incendiary device because it’s illegal to make those crude incendiary devices?”

You forgot the + government building or + your ex wife or + your bosses expensive car.

It’s the end intent. Anyone with half a brain (which covers most of the people here) knows that ISOhunt has one major purpose, distribution of copyright material. It’s the standard point, if you removed all the copyright material, would anyone use it? Nope.

It’s like gun + bullets = weapon, while gun + bullets + address + $500 = conspiracy ๐Ÿ˜‰

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Specialism v. General

“ISOhunt has one major purpose, distribution of copyright material.”

One, all material is copyrighted.

Two, not all copyrighted material is illegal to download.

Three, ISOhunt’s intent is to search torrents not to distribute anything.

“if you removed all the copyright material, would anyone use it?”

Oh, hell yes they would. It’s a damn good way to get data to people quickly.

Oh, for the record, just creating a crude incendiary device will land your ass in jail, just like owning lock picking tools (pro or improvised) or picking your own lock. No intent needed.

interval says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Specialism v. General

Chrono So-on and so-so:

On the Ownership of Lock Picking Devices:

United States:

In United States, laws concerning possession of lockpicks vary from state to state. Generally, possession and use of lockpicks is considered equivalent to the possession of a crowbar or other tool that may or may not be used in a burglary. Illegal possession of lockpicks is generally prosecuted as a felony under the category of possession of burglary tools or similar statutes. However simple possession is completely legal as state statutes all require proof of intent.

In California, locksmiths must be licensed by the state. However simple possession is completely legal as illegal possession must be coupled with felonious or malicious intent.

European Union:

Most countries of the European Union don’t regulate the possession of lockpicks. All responsibility concerning criminal or legal acts using the picks is taken by the owner of the lockpicks.

In the Netherlands, owning lock picks is legal, but using them on someone else’s locks without permission is not. There is even a lock picking championship, the Dutch Open, which was reported on in the newspapers.

In United Kingdom, a person who carries a lock pick set (even a home made one) can be charged with the offence of “going equipped”, unless they have a good reason for carrying them. The penalty for this can be upward of 5 years’ imprisonment.

deadzone (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Specialism v. General

Then the burden is on the MPAA/RIAA to prove it with actual proof rather than using a series of generalizations to prove that infringement “might of happened” or “could of happened” or “very likely happened” as is the case most of the time.

To be honest, the idea that a non-physical COPY of anything is worth this much seems sort of ludicrous. No loss of any type has occurred, nothing physical has changed hands, no sale has been lost, nothing has been stolen, in fact, nothing has really happened other than someone has shared a digital file with someone else.

John says:

Finally

A judge with common sense. the RIAA to date has not shown one shread of proof that they (their clients they represent – the music industry meaning really the lables) have suffered any actual monetary damages. The lables own executives on the stand said they don’t know of any monetary damages, or don’t know what they would be.

Maybe this will send a message that you just can’t imply someone did something in a law sut and you have to show there was an actual loss, just like you or I would have to do if we sued someone.

deadzone (profile) says:

Interesting...

This will definitely be one to watch.

Proof of infringement is going to be a really tough thing to show for the MPAA. Considering the burden of proof has never before been applied to the MPAA/RIAA and considering that they pretty much have balked at any attempt to provide proof in the past, it should be really interesting and entertaining to watch how this plays out.

Anonymous Coward says:

The problem with a lawyer downloading to show it happens is.. that’s been tossed out as not being proof of illegal activity(can’t remember the case). The lawyer does it with full willing support of his client(RIAA MPAA), so no illegal activity happened. For it to be evidence actual real bad goings on had to have happened, and they have to have proof of it. Not just showing a theoretical proof of how it could happen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Circumstantial evidence should be sufficient

This will never hold up. Very few issues cannot be proven by circumstantial evidence and require actual evidentiary facts. While the commenters above seem to think the judge is being sensible, what actually happened is that a preponderance of evidence is insufficient, we need actual proof. This is lower standard than serious crimes like murder and rape which are convicted often based solely on circumstantial evidence. Copyright is not nor should be some bizarro world divorced from the rest of the law. This also would encourage suing the users like Tenenbaum first to get the evidentiary proof on the record before going after indirect infringers.

deadzone (profile) says:

Re: Circumstantial evidence should be sufficient

I don’t think so. What the RIAA/MPAA purport to be “evidence” doesn’t even qualify as Circumstantial Evidence in the real world.

The fact of the matter is that they have no proof or evidence at all to back themselves up with. If they are forced to prove infringement has occured using actual evidence then they will lose.

Different Mike says:

Re: Circumstantial evidence should be sufficient

Regarding Anonymous Coward’s (read: Corporate Shill) comment saying that circumstantial evidence should be sufficient because it is in other cases:
Circumstantial evidence is not sufficient in other cases as you say. Evidence presented in court that is circumstantial is nearly always successfully objected. The rule of law is that guilt must be proven “beyond a reasonable doubt”. Talk to any District Attorney and they will tell you that they spend a lot of their case preparation time making sure that the case proves guilt beyond that reasonable doubt.
I see no reason why the same standard shouldn’t apply for copyright infringement.

romeosidvicious (profile) says:

Re: Re: Circumstantial evidence should be sufficient

“beyond reasonable doubt” is the bar for criminal cases only. These trials are civil and the standard of proof is lower. At present we can only use the laws in place and for civil trials the bar is: “Preponderance of the evidence” or in some cases “Clear and convincing evidence”. Like it or not there are different standards. Wikipedia has a pretty nice write up on the whole thing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burden_of_proof

This is why the *AAs are winning. “A preponderance of the evidence” is merely: “it is more likely that it happened than it did not” for most cases. I haven’t looked ddep enough but with the awards in these cases it is possible the judges should be using the “clear and convincing evidence” standard, which it appears this judge may be doing.

Oh yeah IANAL

Me? says:

The RIAA and MPAA cases so far have been civil cases, not criminal. The evidentiary rules for civil are allowed to include inference, in criminal they are not.

Google and TBP are different because one is focused on the illegal downloads and the other isn’t. Its the same for ISOHunt, although they do respond to takedown requests, they do nothing that mitigates the addition of stuff and are specifically set up to allow that to happen. On the other hand, Google, doesn’t allow stuff to be added, but things are added via their searches, which mitigates the aiding infringment part because they only index whats already out their, vs TBP and ISO that allows people to add. So the difference is in how you mitigate.

Its about time the court asked these big content fools to show an actual loss. To date, niether the RIAA or the MPAA has shown any loss what so ever. In fact in the final Jamie Thomas trial the record lable executive put on the stand, under oath, said he did not know of a financial loss. If the real financial loss wre given in the Jammie Thomas case the award would have been like maybe $15.00. Instead, because the copyright law is so hard to understand by 12 juriors, you end up with the RIAA saying things like “there were millions downloading” implying that Jammie was some criminal mastermind behind some plot to over throw the world.

If big content was made to show what the actual loss was, their victories would be very hollow and few and far between because the juries would see “hey, they only lost $20.00, I can’t even take my wife to dinner for $20.00. But they claimed millions in profit last year, and i’m having trouble paying my bills. Why should i feel sorry for them?”

But the way it is now with their inference and not showing any loss they can force the jury to rely on only the copyright law. They don’t want to show an actual loss, they know what it will do to their cases. If you or i took anyone to court we would have to show some sort of loss, then why don’t they? I say make them prove that every penny lost was a result of the infringment. I’m not for piracy, but i am against unfair practices of special interest, money grubbing, groups beating our courts into submission trying to turn them into money making machines.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

On the other hand, Google, doesn’t allow stuff to be added, but things are added via their searches, which mitigates the aiding infringment part because they only index whats already out their, vs TBP and ISO that allows people to add. So the difference is in how you mitigate.

No, IsoHunt does not allow anyone to upload torrents, they are a search engine only. Just like Google. please learn how Isohunt works.

i am america says:

I thought this is a free country were the poor can become rich. But all I see is the rich staying rich like hollywood. were would they be without the poor making them rich. The real reason for hollywood losing all there profit dosnt come from people downloading, its from the movies them selfs. I remember when a movie was good. not lately, have i yet to see an original movie that wasn’t based on an older movie. and thats the reason I wont pay to see a remake. come up with something nobody has ever seen before and i will be there to pay. I am not a tarrorest i am america

i am america says:

I thought this is a free country were the poor can become rich. But all I see is the rich staying rich like hollywood. were would they be without the poor making them rich. The real reason for hollywood losing all there profit dosnt come from people downloading, its from the movies them selfs. I remember when a movie was good. not lately, have i yet to see an original movie that wasn’t based on an older movie. and thats the reason I wont pay to see a remake. come up with something nobody has ever seen before and i will be there to pay. I am not a tarrorest i am america

i am america says:

I thought this is a free country were the poor can become rich. But all I see is the rich staying rich like hollywood. were would they be without the poor making them rich. The real reason for hollywood losing all there profit dosnt come from people downloading, its from the movies them selfs. I remember when a movie was good. not lately, have i yet to see an original movie that wasn’t based on an older movie. and thats the reason I wont pay to see a remake. come up with something nobody has ever seen before and i will be there to pay. I am not a tarrorest i am america

:) says:

re:

I use iso hunt all the time infact i am downloading a movie right now. I work at a movie theater and really box office ticket sales are up 16% i dont know where the mpaa gets of saying that they are killing the movie industry. This is gonna just be like napser where they fuck over all of the users and not the company. So yea go mpaa bend over all of the thousands of americans and put it in hard. fuck the mpaa!

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