Forced MPAA Filter On IsoHunt Means Legitimate Content Is Being Censored

from the not-cool dept

One of the more bizarre rulings in copyright/file sharing cases was the district court ruling in the IsoHunt search engine case a couple years ago. It's still involved in the appeals process, but the district court is one of the only courts so far to broadly interpret the DMCA's "red flags" rule to mean that general knowledge means you have to block access. The ruling ended up being that IsoHunt basically had to accept a keyword filter from the MPAA and block all access to anything that matched the keywords. As you can imagine, that's leading to significant overblocking of legitimate content.

TorrentFreak has the unfortunate story of filmmaker Brian Taylor, who released a short horror film called "the Bite" via his En Queue Film production studio, and decided to distribute it via isoHunt. However, that's when things went bad:

"I got it going, had downloads start from the US and Europe almost immediately, which made me a very happy guy," Taylor told TorrentFreak.

However, this enthusiasm faded quickly when he tried to access the torrent from a US connection a day later. Instead of a link to the torrent file the filmmaker was welcomed with the following message. “Torrent has been censored, as required by US court.”


They also note that a torrent of public domain music has been blocked by the MPAA (even though the MPAA's filter is about movies, not music). Of course, this is what happens when you force overblocking and the use of technologically stupid filtering methods like keywords. What's amazing is that a court made this same mistake a decade ago with Napster (forcing keyword blocking) and it didn't work then, and doesn't work now. It's amazing that judges who clearly are technologically illiterate find it reasonable to make rules up out of thin air like this one, that not only does little to block any actual infringement, but does plenty to block legitimate uses of tools.

Filed Under: brian taylor, censorship, dmca, filtering, mpaa
Companies: isohunt


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  1. icon
    Gwiz (profile), 9 Apr 2012 @ 1:42pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Which again shows that ISO hunt isn't doing a good job with the filter, and is in fact being very literal and annoying to try to prove a point.

    Ok. Let me explain this s-l-o-w-l-y for you.

    A keyword filter consists of a list of words. If the keyword appears in the name of the torrent (and maybe in the description - not sure about that part) IsoHunt has to block that torrent for US users. They have no choice at all. A keyword filter is, by it's nature, very literal. That's kind of the whole point of this article - that keyword filters for infringing content are not very efficient and will always block some legitimate content.

    And that is not even taking into account that content is considered infringing by how it is or has been used, not just because it exists.

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