I have some sad news to report. One of the better torrent sites, IsoHunt, has shuttered its doors:
isoHunt, a search engine for BitTorrent files founded more than a decade ago, has agreed today to shut down all its operations worldwide. The company, founded by Canadian Gary Fung, has also accepted a judgment that it must pay the movie studios that sued it $110 million.
It’s not clear how much of that the studios will actually be able to collect. According to a chunk of court transcript cited by Techdirt, the movie studios’ lawyers estimated that Fung and his company had only “two million dollars to $4 million, $5 million at the most” that they could possibly pay.
Fung gave up his long legal fight just weeks from having to defend his site in federal court; a jury trial was scheduled to start on November 5 in a Los Angeles federal court. Earlier court rulings had already determined that Fung was liable for “inducing” copyright infringement, so the court trial would have largely been about damage control. The MPAA had stated studio lawyers would have sought as much as $600 million had the case gone to trial.
Most of you know my feelings towards intellectual property. On top of finding it morally reprehensible, I have also witnessed the writing on the wall and it shows that intellectual property is dying. It’s impossible to maintain a monopoly on ideas when ideas can be spread around the world instantly thanks to the wonderful global network known as the Internet. Hell, this victory over IsoHunt is meaningless because there are hundreds of alternative torrent sites you can download movies and music from.
The only outcome of this fiasco is that people looking to download files via BitTorrent have to spend a few minutes to find another site. In other words, the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) spend, in all likelihood, millions of dollars on lawyers to achieve nothing of importance. If nothing demonstrates the slow death of intellectual property that should.