IsoHunt Agrees To Shut Down And 'Pay' $110 Million

from the which-will-never-get-paid dept

Just this morning I’d been putting together a long and involved post highlighting how some of the MPAA’s actions in the IsoHunt case raised serious questions about their overall strategy, but I now need to go back and revise and update that post as the news has come down that IsoHunt and the MPAA have “settled” the case with IsoHunt agreeing to “pay” $110 million and shut down. Of course, IsoHunt won’t pay $110 million. In court recently, even the MPAA’s lawyers admitted that IsoHunt would be dead if the court awarded as little as $2 million. But, the MPAA wants that bogus $110 million number to throw around, just as they wanted to toss around the $105 million that Limewire settled for a couple years ago.

Of course, even if IsoHunt did pay that kind of money, how much would go to artists?

Unfortunately, there were many, many problems with the IsoHunt case in the first place. It was a clear case of bad facts making bad law — or what Eric Goldman has referred to as the difference between real law and file sharing rule. It’s clear, for example, that there was a tremendous amount of infringement done via IsoHunt. But there are serious questions about whether or not the liability for that should fall on IsoHunt as a torrent search engine. IsoHunt remains really the only significant case where the court has accepted Hollywood’s bizarre interpretation of “red flag knowledge” in copyright infringement. And, really, that’s why the MPAA wanted so damn badly to get this case finished without an appeal.

Now, unfortunately, the MPAA can continue to point to the rulings in IsoHunt, including many of the more problematic claims around inducement liability and red flag knowledge, knowing that they can’t be directly challenged in that case any more. You can understand why IsoHunt settled. The company had already lost the key fights, and it was going to get hit with a giant sum to pay no matter what — clearly more than it could ever pay. So why go through the process of continuing the court fight, when a settlement just gets it over and done with? At that point, the quibble is just about what bogus number the MPAA gets to lead the press release with, and $110 million was apparently the winning ticket. It wouldn’t have made a difference if it was $1.1 million or $1.1 billion, the result is basically the same.

Amusingly, Chris Dodd is out there claiming that this is some sort of victory for innovation:

“Today’s settlement is a major step forward in realizing the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and innovation,” said former Sen. Chris Dodd, chairman and chief executive of the MPAA. “It also 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.”

Of course, it does nothing of the sort. If the shutting down of Napster, Grokster, Aimster and Limewire failed to make that point, why will IsoHunt’s shutdown and unpayable fine make that point any stronger? Either way, I’ll have a bit more on this case soon, once I’ve had a chance to rewrite that other post in light of this latest turn of events.

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Companies: columbia studios, isohunt, mpaa

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Comments on “IsoHunt Agrees To Shut Down And 'Pay' $110 Million”

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92 Comments
Not an Electronic Rodent (profile) says:

On another planet

“Today?s settlement is a major step forward in realizing the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and innovation,?

Wouldn’t it be nice if he explained how this is a “major step”?
‘Coz even when I try and start with “Isohunt are the Devil incarnate in pirate form” and try and go from there to “legitimate commerce and innovation on the internet” I have to admit… I’m drawing a blank.
But then from everything I’ve ever read that Mr Dodd has said, logical steps are not his strong suit.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: On another planet

Why would he? Critical thinking is dead and dusted. Almost no one would give Dodd’s statements a second thought because if you agree w/ him it doesn’t matter and if you don’t you’re in such a tiny, microscopic, minority that pays attention to such things it also doesn’t matter, especially to these clowns who never have to justify anything they can get more easily through lawfare.

bob (profile) says:

Re: On another planet

Let me explain it to you. If I make something that can easily be transmitted digitally, it still takes time and energy and often real materials to produce it. If losers like IsoHunt or some of the other cheapass comment writers around here simply pass it around without paying their fair share of the development costs, I stop producing things.

One day when you get a real job and you get hit by thieves, you’ll understand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: On another planet

Let me explain it to you. If I make something that can easily be transmitted digitally, it still takes time and energy and often real materials to produce it. If losers like IsoHunt or some of the other cheapass comment writers around here simply pass it around without paying their fair share of the development costs, I stop producing things.

One day when you get a real job and you get hit by thieves, you’ll understand.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 On another planet

“So consider yourself gifted a free license”

It cost nothing for you to grant his that free licence, yet you claim that if he copied without having you permission first then it would have cost you something tangible.

This is why you will never win this argument. You pick and choose your argument at random depending on whether you agree with something or not.

“Now if you did the same thing with something more substantial”

Define “substantial”. No, a larger number of 0s and 1s in an order that happen to combine into a media file does not make something “sustantial”.

happy2bhere429 says:

Re: Re: On another planet

Actually, by law, once a person purchases any kind of content they are allowed to share it. As long as any member of the staff of IsoHunt actually owned any content that they put on their site, it is not considered pirating. It is called sharing. People do it all the time. Otherwise, every single person who bought a book, dvd, etc., then either gave it away or sold it would be considered pirates as well.

And for as much money as the “artists” in Hollywood demand for making a movie, and as much as the staff gets paid, the lawsuit is a joke. I work harder raising my child to be a successful, independent, respectful young lady than all of them do making a stupid movie or show. I won’t go to the movies. I won’t buy movies. I don’t watch tv. Why should I, or anyone else, put money in their pocket when they don’t give a damn about the people who actually pay them–the public that pays to watch their stuff?

out_of_the_blue says:

IsoHunt never had ANY products except stolen!

So another grifter is shut down. Boo-hoo, pirates. You’ve LOST as always when your piratey notions get to a real court.

But will Mistaken Mike or the pirates learn anything from this? That “monetizing” other people’s property isn’t permitted? — HELL NO! Mike mentions Napster and others as if a string of horrible mistakes for copyright owners, when in fact, it’s the ONLY possible action that can be taken against STEALING OF CONTENT.


Actual user testimonial: Techdirt helps me think clearly because provides an obviously wrong reference point.
08:22:16[j-485-7]

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: IsoHunt never had ANY products except stolen!

If they had developed their own similar legal alternatives, they’d be absolutely rolling in money and these sites wouldn’t exist. Napster tried to work with MPAA to develop a working legal method for the site to exist and were rebuffed.

Since apparently these illegal pirate sites make bajillions of dollars.

Piracy is not the problem, it’s the fact the industry is spending more time on lawsuits than bothering with innovating the pirating sites out of existance.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: IsoHunt never had ANY products except stolen!

Piracy is almost always a service issue, rather than a consumption issue. In straitened economic times, one of the first things to go is the “luxury” budget. And seeing as there’s so much media out there, there’s also a time budget. If you make it simple, easy and valuable for consumers, then you have the potential for a huge success.

Examples of this include the iPod, the Samsung Galaxy series, games consoles from the mid-90s.

The MPAA is the opposite of this.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 IsoHunt never had ANY products except stolen!

“Netflix is easier than dealing with torrents.”

Yes, it is. HOWEVER, the morons who you worship make life extremely difficult for them. They won’t licence new content to Netflix for streaming, and keep revoking rights on catalogue content, forcing it to be removed. They won’t licence anything to Netflix for streaming to half the countries on the planet. Some studios refuse to licence any content at all.

Yes Netflix is easier than piracy when the content is available. But due purely to the actions of your favourite industry, that choice is not there for all content. So torrenting is often the easiest method available for content that’s not on Netflix.

Why is this basic fact so difficult for you to grasp?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 IsoHunt never had ANY products except stolen!

Why is it only morons why comment on these things?

“Do you foreigners have so little pride and worthwhile culture that you can’t live without American content?”

Are you so stupid and ill informed that you don’t know how much FOREIGN content Netflix offers to xenophobic morons like yourself? Maybe you should educate yourself. Does the fact that British, Asian and European content is available on US Netflix mean you have no pride or culture? Well, considering the number of foreign properties you insist on remaking, maybe there’s a point you’re trying to avoid admitting there…

“Or immerse yourself in the garbage that comes out of Nigeria or Bollywood.”

So, in your world only American and Nollywood/Bollywood content exists? You probably are that ignorant.

squall_seawave (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: IsoHunt never had ANY products except stolen!

well netflix is a tentative step in the right direction but still if i want to see justice league it is torrent or nothing since there is no legal recourse to buy

if i want an old psx game is torrent because there is no recourse to buy because oh surprise copyright issues (i am looking at you blood omen)

if i want to see daria in their original format is torrenting because licensing made a nightmare to get the original songs

now recently in another topic it showed there was a tv show for free in the owner page it was the most torrented tv show

some people like to get something cheap i dont deny this most will sacrifice price for convenience

Anonymous Coward says:

The MPAA should pay taxes on that $110 million

In exchange for the MPAA getting that bogus $110 million dollar number to float around, the IRS should tell the MPAA that they need to pay taxes on that $110 million they’ll mostly never get.

I’d say a net loss of $36.5 million (at the 35% tax rate on US corporations, even if the MPAA isn’t technically a corporation) would be a fair trade for the IsoHunt ruling, now wouldn’t you?

out_of_the_blue says:

Re: The MPAA should pay taxes on that $110 million

@ AC:
I’d say a net loss of $36.5 million (at the 35% tax rate on US corporations, even if the MPAA isn’t technically a corporation) would be a fair trade for the IsoHunt ruling, now wouldn’t you?


NO, I wouldn’t. But I WOULD say, taking off on your creative taxing idea, that you pirates should pay taxes on the value of the content that you’ve been getting for free. Particularly as it’s a form of unearned income.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The MPAA should pay taxes on that $110 million

“… pirates should pay taxes on the value…”

There it is… the magic “value” word, which answers all your questions:

– The “value” of a bucket o’ bits is inherently nil.
– The “value” of the content is assigned by the consumer; if it’s not something you ever would have paid for, but you downloaded it anyway, the value = “curiosity” = nil.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The MPAA should pay taxes on that $110 million

Hey, my point isn’t that we should tax innovators to death. My point is that if the MPAA insists that piracy is losing them tons of money, then why shouldn’t we the tax payers see some benefit when they get these outrageous 10 million dollar plus rulings against infringers who don’t even have anywhere close to that kind of cash?

If they want to insist that the penalties for piracy and infringement should be hundreds or thousands of times higher then the actual damage, then why shouldn’t we give them some incentive to be more realistic by taxing the income they ‘earn’ through these lawsuits?

Maybe then the MPAA and others would realize just how absurd some of the anti-piracy laws and their penalties are.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: @ "Of course, even if IsoHunt did pay that kind of money, how much would go to artists?"

I think the RIAA and MPAA is in the negative hundreds of millions paid to creators right now what with shady accounting practices and whatnot and them folding around every single lawsuit brought against them by creators.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: @ "Of course, even if IsoHunt did pay that kind of money, how much would go to artists?"

And none of that $110 million will ever reach the artists that the MPAA claim have been stolen from so the MPAA will be the ones grifiting off of the artists for not giving them any of that money and that will make them the pirates.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Enjoy your hydra hunt, MPAA

“This is a major victory for the forces of good.”

When Napster was shutdown did it deter piracy. NO
When Limewire shutdown did it deter piracy. NO
When Megaupload shutdown did it deter piracy. NO
Now that IsoHunt is going to be shutdown will it deter piracy. NO

All those shutdowns (even if the MPAA considers them to be a major win) hasn’t detered piracy so piracy is still winning.

bob (profile) says:

Hooray!

It couldn’t have happened to a sleezier bunch. And why don’t you report that Slashdot says that IsoHunt has 5 or 6 million dollars sitting around. What? I thought the TechDirt fantasy was that it was just a bunch of anti-corporate hippies sitting around and sharing. Any fees were just to pay for “bandwidth.” Nope. If they’ve got $5m+ now, who knows how much they collected over the years.

So get over your lies. Get over your horsemanure about it being about “sharing”. Companies like this are just designed to take whatever they can while refusing to share any of the profits with the people who do the creating.

And they weren’t just ripping off the artists, writers, and creators, they were ripping off suckers like you. They got that $5m+ from the pockets of the fools at web sites like this, the fools who believed their bogus claims. And you suckers paid it because you’ve been brainwashed by the horsemanure coming out of the piracy apologists.

I’m going to go have a nice glass of champagne– a glass I bought and paid for with money I earned in legal trade. You guys can go suck some lemons.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Hooray!

it’s fun how posts that present real fact’s get hidden, it’s the TD equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and yelling “LALALALALALALALALALALALALA…. IM NOT HEARING THIS LALALALALALALALALA”

“Fact”: I do not think this word means what you think it means.

A fact is something that is, without context. “I weight 180 lbs.” is a fact. “I’m fat.” is NOT a fact, it is an opinion. Saying “I weight 180 lbs., and am therefore fat” is still an opinion because it has a conclusion. Logical analysis can only be considered a fact when all possible variables are considered, which is why almost all logic outside of basic math is ultimately an opinion or hypothesis.

Which is a fancy way of saying that not one of the posts here, including this one, is a fact. It’s all opinion.

For the rest I recommend researching what the word “fallacy” means. Learning is fun!

Silverado (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Hooray!

Excuse me for raining on your parade, Mr. Scientist, but …even though “learning is fun”, IGNORANCE IS BLISS. πŸ˜€

Lemme learn you sumthin’. πŸ˜‰ There can be NO SUCH THING as “fact”, if that were to be defined as “being without context”. How do you suppose something (or anything) could “just be”, if there were no context it were to “exist” inside?

“I weight 180 lbs.” is indeed NOT a “fact”, but merely an OBSERVATION, …made by a human being, at a specific geographical location on planet earth, using a scale defined by human beings, …most of whom feel, btw., that it’s a brilliant idea to support a belief-system in which universal “constants” actually should exist independently of context (an idealistic “idea” science has confounded decades ago).

So there it is: Subtract the context from that (or any other) statement and what remains is nothing but NOISE (something that looks like “information”, but has NO MEANING at all). πŸ˜€

Stephan K. says:

Re: Re:

You are exactly the kind of a-hole why they are going after these sites. If people actually bought the content they liked after viewing it illegaly we wouldn’t have this problem. Do you also go into a store and just take what you want without paying? You really don’t know how the world functions. If people don’t pay, the movie companies can’t produce new stuff.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Love how you assume that just because he says he refuses to support them by buying from them, it automatically follows that he must be pirating their stuff instead.

In case you didn’t know, some of us(myself included) get by just fine with what non-major label, non-big studio people/companies produce, and are more than willing to throw money at them, while at the same time avoiding like the plague anything the *AA’s put out, due to their atrocious business practices and actions.

If, should enough people do this, the current studios die off due to lack of funding(though given apparently none of their films ever make a profit, I’m surprised it hasn’t happened already), so what, there will always be someone else willing to step in and take their place, and maybe the replacements will have a little more respect for their customers.

pityrules (profile) says:

The reason Isohunt was so special for me is because it hosted one of the friendliest and most helpful communities I have encountered. The mods patiently answered questions and offered help on a range of issues from software to hardware. It was a true community.

And of course you can find practically any torrent out there very easily with their search engine.

Thanks for the good fight isohunt

Anonymous Coward says:

Of course, it does nothing of the sort. If the shutting down of Napster, Grokster, Aimster and Limewire failed to make that point, why will IsoHunt’s shutdown and unpayable fine make that point any stronger?

I’ll bet your personal hero, Kim Dotcom could (and will) pay a pretty hefty sum. Why should the ability to pay rather than the damages affect the amount?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Fairness stupid, that is why.

a) Damages can’t be shown, the Motion Picture Ass. of America even says so themselves that they can’t prove any damages or even if they happen, they just assume it does.

b) Deterrence should be the least harsh possible, it should be harsh enough to cause pain, but not to harsh as to make others numb to it. If nobody can’t pay or see a way out, why care?

c) When people perceive their lifes as having nothing to lose they stop caring, banks took their homes, outsourcing took their jobs, many have in their minds nothing to lose at the moment, what a million dollars would cause to them? they can’t afford it anyways and probably never will why bother caring, what else can you take from them?

horse with no name says:

bad defendant, bad rulings

IsoHunt is basically another case of a defendant who either got bad legal advice or worse, had a poor understanding of the law and the legal process and advised himself.

These are the sorts of people (along with class clowns like Tenenbaum) who end up setting the precedent type cases that are used to convict others. He has pretty much single handedly set all of the caselaw which makes it clear that it’s all pretty much infringing and all pretty much subject to legal action. After IsoHunt, it’s pretty much a fool’s adventure to open a torrent site based in the US.

Kim DotFat must hate this guy too, because if Kim ends up in a US court, every one of the rulings in the ISO case will come back to haunt him.

This guy should have folded his tent years ago and avoided court. He hasn’t helped anyone, not even himself.

Anonymous Coward says:

People “Settle” for ONE REASON.. that is they believe it is a better “deal” than what they would expect from the Court ruling. You would NEVER settle for ANYTHING if you expect to win, or even if you expect a charge less than what you settled for.

SO them closing down and OFFERING that amount as a FINE (not a payment) then ISOHunt was fully aware they were screwed, they knew their legal arguments were are failure.

The chose to close down and accept a $110 mill fine.
Should they not be able to pay that fine, they should be able to do prison time instead.
That’s what happens if you cant afford your large speeding fines, you can go to jail for a period.

Yet another massive blow to freetards the world over, and another nail in Masnick’s ‘legal opinions’ reputation.

Mr Masnick are you one of the “hundreds of people” who will just start up another ‘company/scam’ like this ?

So would you be standing up setting up a ISOhunt ? Mr Masnick?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Winning a case isn’t solely based on whether you’re right or not. It’s about how many lawyers you can pay for to defend your version of the truth. As someone who’s so anti-corporatism, I’m surprised you don’t already know that it’s the fact that normal people can’t afford good lawyers that leads to ‘one law for me, another for thee’.

Or are you suggesting that Phoenix Wright is a real person?

Stephan K. says:

Idiots

They don’t realize what good potential those sites have. A lot of people who download movies wouldn’t have paid to see them in the first place. So it’s still a good way to get good buzz for your movie. And in other cases people just want to download the newest episode of their favorite TV Show before it’s shown in their respective country and they are gonna buy the DVD Set anyway. Or they discover something good that they are then gonna buy. So all in all it ends up costing the MPAA money.. Well not really them but the studios. Ok.. I’ve made my point.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Idiots

Agreed, but really, it’s never been about profit, it’s all about control.

They could easily set up a service that would absolutely decimate piracy rates, by offering people the opportunity to pay say a reasonable rate to be able to watch/listen to any of the movies/songs they’ve made(not just the handful they are willing to license out), on any device, at any time, in any country(so none of that ‘this song/movie is unavailable in your region’ crap), with no DRM to get in the way.

Sure you’d have people who would just pay for a month’s worth, download a ton and then never pay again, but even then they’d have paid where otherwise they wouldn’t have, and the amount of people who would be willing to jump ship from the hassle of pirating to a service like that would drop piracy rates like mad, as well as bringing in an absolute ton of new revenue and customers.

However, the conditions listed above to make such a service work would take far too much control out of their hands(no ‘windowed releases’, no region-locked special releases, etc.), which is something they consider to be far more important to any amount of profit, despite how foolish such thinking is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Idiots

They could easily set up a service that would absolutely decimate piracy rates, by offering people the opportunity to pay say a reasonable rate to be able to watch/listen to any of the movies/songs they’ve made(not just the handful they are willing to license out), on any device, at any time, in any country(so none of that ‘this song/movie is unavailable in your region’ crap), with no DRM to get in the way.

Funny, I don’t hear a lot of people in the US crying about the lack of availability of foreign films. Maybe you people should consider developing a film/television industry that actually produces something your own countrymen want to watch. With the possible exception of England, the rest of the world is an utter flop when it comes to creating quality motion picture and television.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Idiots

“Funny, I don’t hear a lot of people in the US crying about the lack of availability of foreign films.”

You move in the wrong circles – I hear it all the time. The bitching about the Weinsteins’ treatment of the upcoming Korean movie Snowpiercer (which will be cut to ribbons for its US release but the original will not be officially available in the US), for the first high profile example that comes to mind.

“the rest of the world is an utter flop when it comes to creating quality motion picture and television.”

Define “quality”. Are you really claiming that Honey Boo Boo, Duck Dynasty and Grown Ups 2 are the pinnacle of media achievement?

SRG says:

laughable

funny how the MPAA is going after so many “ENABLING” companies when they havent gone after sony, microsoft, or other big name companies that “ENABLE” the world to breach copyrights… Sony is still selling cd/dvd/blueray readers and burners that “ENABLES” people copy to and from cd/dvd/blueray, microsoft gives us windows which “ENABLES” us to interact and build programs that can breach copyright. every single company in this world breaches copyright on a day to day basis and nothing happens. well fuck the MPAA they steal from the artist back pocket more so then what any normal person can with downloading a song or movie….

Fulgore says:

What's next?

What if you had…not simply a photographic memory, but a full-motion video memory? What if you could remember each scene in correct sequence, with score and dialogue?
You’d play it back inside your mind — you’d re-live the work.

So what’s the damned difference? It’s only information — transient, finite, fleeting and intangible. You derive no permanent benefit from it, it’s less tangible than vapor.

Those bastards are selling us MEMORIES!

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