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Piracy The Courts

IsoHunt Settles With MPAA, Will Shut Down And Pay Up to $110 Million 245

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the later-found-with-knees-broken dept.
hypnosec writes "The MPAA and Gary Fung, owner of IsoHunt.com, have settled their case out of court, with the torrent indexing site closing as part of the deal. The judge presiding over the MPAA vs. IsoHunt.com case, Jacqueline Chooljian, canceled the hearing which was planned after she was informed that both the parties have settled outside court. 'The website isoHunt.com today agreed to halt all operations worldwide in connection with a settlement of the major movie studios' landmark copyright lawsuit against the site and its operator Gary Fung' reads the press release." Only a few days after the MPAA was accosted by the judge for seeking damages several times the total worth of isoHunt: "But if you strip him of all his assets — and you’re suggesting that a much lesser number of copyright infringements would accomplish that, where is the deterrence by telling the world that you took someone’s resources away because of illegal conduct entirely or 50 times over?" Still, the settlement seems unfair: The MPAA has asked the court for $110 million, when the MPAA itself admitted that isoHunt only has $5 or $6 million. So much for the optimism for isoHunt's successor.
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IsoHunt Settles With MPAA, Will Shut Down And Pay Up to $110 Million

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 17, 2013 @02:53PM (#45155793)

    The more will slip through your fingers.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 17, 2013 @02:53PM (#45155801)

    The best torrent search engine ever will never bow to this kind of bullying crap. Long live Google!

    • by JWW (79176) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @04:10PM (#45156759)

      That's the reason for the $110 million settlement.

      That number is orders of magnitude greater than what ISOHunt can pay.

      The reason the settlement number is so large is that the MPAA is looking for how much they want to charge google for enabling people to search the internet.

  • perplexed (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    That certainly was a very confusing farewell message...

    • That might be because it's not a farewell message. It's a 10 year anniversary post from Jan 22, 2013.
  • Wow, so he tricked them into settling for $110 million when he only has about $5 mil or so in the company. TROLLED! Correct me if I'm wrong but settlements outside of court cannot be converted to wage garnishments, right? He definitely tricked them pretty well.
    • Re:Trolled (Score:5, Informative)

      by schnell (163007) <me@[ ]nell.net ['sch' in gap]> on Thursday October 17, 2013 @03:46PM (#45156371) Homepage

      Correct me if I'm wrong but settlements outside of court cannot be converted to wage garnishments, right?

      Not true. But hopefully IsoHunt was a corporation, not an individual proprietorship or partnership. Part of the purpose of a corporation's "legal personhood" is that wrongdoing on the part of the corporation cannot be transferred to the people who worked there or owned it. Of course, a corporation won't stop individuals for being charged with crimes, but a lawsuit settlement that bankrupts a company should not then bankrupt the individuals behind that corporation assuming they set things up properly.

      This corporate protection from individual liability works for the bad guys, it works for good guys, it works for everyone.

      • by nomadic (141991)
        True, although you can generally go after assets that have been transferred out of the corporation in an attempt to avoid the judgment. The dude can't just pay himself a $6,000,000 "bonus" and then tell the other side that the company's broke.
        • Awww, I totally would have paid myself a gigantic bonus like that and then told them they can collect the payment from the Department of Go Fuck Yourself. I would at least hire like 15 different cleaning services and take a limo everywhere, especially to court, because those are legitimate business expenses, lol.
      • Re:Trolled (Score:5, Funny)

        by M. Baranczak (726671) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @10:30PM (#45160347)

        a corporation won't stop individuals for being charged with crimes

        Unless it's a really big corporation.

  • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @02:59PM (#45155863)
    And that is why you go for fully decentralized services, kids.
    • by Joining Yet Again (2992179) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @03:03PM (#45155907)

      Yup, and this is why I'm a ham fighting to keep shortwave clear of RFI.

      And why I would encourage all hams to experiment with UHF, with a view to taking back centralised private ownership of the modern popular internetwork.

      • As a fellow ham, I understand your comment regarding RFI on HF, but I don't follow with your comment regarding UHF. I've used UHF with FRS radios and interoperating with my ham rig, but I'm not copying you regarding the ownership takeback. Can you elaborate, please?
        • I think he wants us to screw around in 2.4 and 5 GHz to make sure we keep our priority on the bands over Wifi
          • 2.4 and 5 GHz are ISM bands, not ham bands... Some of the higher frequency 5 GHz (5.8 particularly) are licensed for amateur use, but that's outside the ISM frequency range.
            • by bobbied (2522392)
              There is a ham allocation in the US that covers part of the 2.4 GHz spectrum used by WiFi. Part 97 use trumps Part 15 users on that part of the spectrum. I run a data link on this spectrum and can legally run at much higher power (up to 1500Watts and directional antennas) than the average home user. I only use about 5 watts, but I have a directional antenna with about 26db of gain, which puts my field strengths way up there to make it over the 5 mile link. I do try to not cause unnecessary interference
        • At the moment, Ofcom in the UK is trying to sell off more bandwidth in the gigahertz range which includes some secondary amateur allocation. Meanwhile hams are appreciating the infrastructure-free advantages of HF as always, and using 2m/70cm repeaters as usual, but perhaps less enthusiastic to experiment further up, partly because it's harder to build equipment, and partly because here it would be about relying on third party infrastructure or creating your own points of presence everywhere if you wanted t

          • I really hope they're not planning on selling off part of the 1.2 GHz and 5.8 GHz bands, and I do intend to make use of those bands in the near future. I would be unaffected since I'm under FCC oversight here in the US, but it wouldn't be good for international equipment interoperability. Yeah, I haven't messed with D-STAR at all yet simply due to equipment costs, but it does seem a lot of local clubs and EmCom folks like it.
    • by Kjella (173770)

      Fully decentralized services are full of spam, viruses, trolls, hired goons, crap versions, corrupted versions and garbage. You don't need the bulk data from a centralized source - a magnet link is plenty - but if you don't want to waste a lot of time and bandwidth you want some form of crowd-sourced service to help you find good files. That means moderation, comments, ratings, votes, indexes and so on that don't decentralize well. You could of course try with some PGP "web of trust" system, but you see how

      • Fully decentralized services are full of spam, viruses, trolls, hired goons, crap versions, corrupted versions and garbage.

        As opposed to the general BitTorrent world? How exactly would a decentralized searched engine have to cope with worse problems than the traditional ones struggle with? I'm not talking about file distribution, just about the searches.

        • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @06:29PM (#45158435) Homepage

          As opposed to the general BitTorrent world?

          Yes. Did you ever stop to wonder why people left KaZaA, eDonkey, Gnutella and so on for Suprnova and The Pirate Bay? We tried it 10-15 years ago and it was vastly inferior to torrent sites, what's new? Except that torrent sites have now gone torrentless and trackerless to mostly carry magnet links.

          How exactly would a decentralized searched engine have to cope with worse problems than the traditional ones struggle with?

          Statistics. Google has tons and tons of statistics on what links are actually relevant to the search terms, your decentralized crawler will find some random shit and return it as a hit. Search any of the networks above and you get tons of crap. Perhaps you get better results with a decentralized search engine on the web, but only because you rely on sites like TPB and other popular torrent sites to weed out most of the crap. Searching a fairly centralized resource in a decentralized way isn't exactly being decentralized.

      • Just because one centralized system lacks a DHT for ranking metadata doesn't mean they all will -- It especially doesn't mean that centralization is the answer instead.

    • by PRMan (959735)
      Not to mention, if you are in charge, definitely never upload anything or encourage anyone to do it.
    • by pieterh (196118)

      Here's a modest proposal for building a fully decentralized spyproof web: http://hintjens.com/blog:66 [hintjens.com]

  • by NettiWelho (1147351) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @03:00PM (#45155889)
    MPAA demanding money for imaginary damage done to imaginery property? Pay them with monopoly money.
    • They said US Dollars. That counted until this week.

    • by Sarten-X (1102295)
      Imaginary damage done to imaginary property that was made with real effort for a real result taking real skill and real investment by real people.
      • by kesuki (321456)

        "Imaginary damage done to imaginary property that was made with real effort for a real result taking real skill and real investment by real people."

        i know people who 'have an internet band' they gave me several of their songs free they only cared about how good their music sounded. and they are using linux and open source tools for mixing etc. the cost to them was the cost of their computers of which they were already using for other reasons. so for one band the cost is already moot nearly zero. they don't

    • by Capt.DrumkenBum (1173011) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @03:30PM (#45156149)
      Not a bad plan.
      A standard Monopoly game has $15,140.
      Best price for a Monopoly game I could find was $17
      110 million would take the cash from 7266 games.
      At a total cost of $123,522

      Look at that, A plan with no flaws. :)
      • You can buy just the money. Presumably since they think digital copies of a thing are worth so much they would be okay with a scan of the $500 bill though. Then they could make as many as they wanted.
  • 110 million might never be paid out, but I'm sure the MPAA will use it as a PR move. They will spin it as "If you run a site, you will owe 100's of millions". I'm not sure I support either side in this. As cliche as it sounds two wrongs don't make a right. We have copyright laws and whether they are ridiculous or not if you break them there's a chance you will have to pay. I'd much rather see true discussion and debate on the topic than the constant one side or the other won the battle argument. If this co
  • You will be missed.
    If I couldn't find what I wanted on TPB, then ISOhunt was my next stop.
    • Remember Bushtorrent? Never had trouble finding what I wanted there, and (at least at first) it wasn't covered with porn ads like rhinestones on a teenager girl's mobile.

    • by Grishnakh (216268)

      torrentz.eu is my go-to site for torrent files; it aggregates results from lots of other sites.

  • Proportionality (Score:5, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @03:13PM (#45156003)

    Still, the settlement seems unfair: The MPAA has asked the court for $110 million, when the MPAA itself admitted that isoHunt only has $5 or $6 million.

    The legal system does not hand out punishment on the basis of whether or not the defendant can pay for it; It hands it out on the basis of how much harm was done. If you run someone over and they're a cripple for the rest of their life, the Judge doesn't say "Well, you only got $20 and a cracker... so give me the $20 and we're even." You are fined and jailed on the basis of how much pain and suffering that person endured.

    Unfortunately, the law says that every time you share an MP3, god kills $150,000 worth of kittens. Statutory damages don't allow for any discretion on the part of the judge. Thank Congress for that.

    And the argument can also be made that proportional damages levied against very wealthy individuals or corporations is good practice, though it doesn't often happen. Fining people for dumping millions of gallons of toxic waste into the ocean the maximum $50,000 per infraction means they just video tape the whole thing, send in the tape and a check for $50,000 because it's cheaper than going to court, and much, much cheaper than disposing of the waste properly. But alas, that is not how the law is written.

    The system is totally broken, but let's endeavor to be specific in our criticism of it... rather than simply saying "Oh that's unfair!" ... Fairness is relative. Justice shouldn't be.

    • Re:Proportionality (Score:5, Informative)

      by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @03:19PM (#45156063) Homepage

      > It hands it out on the basis of how much harm was done. ...and there was none done here.

      On the other hand, there have been a lot of limits placed on civil judgments lately. A lot of hapless tort reform astroturfers have caused a large number of tort reforms to be enacted in various places.

      Chances are that if YOU personally are injured that you will never see anything close to an equitable judgement.

      These absurd COPYRIGHT verdicts are due to statutory damages laws that have no relation whatsoever to any actual real damages. They are in fact a blatant short cut around proving actual damages. They have little in common with some prole being crippled. A crippled prole has to show real damages.

      Crime and punishment for the poor, tort reform for the rich.

      • Chances are that if YOU personally are injured that you will never see anything close to an equitable judgement.

        That's mostly because most judgements aren't against an individual but an insurance company acting on behalf of that individual. Corporations are trying to limit liability for obvious reasons -- sometimes the damage can be so enormous and terrifying to behold that juries will throw millions of dollars out of pity and disgust. Juries don't often award large piles of cash to victims when it is a person versus a person, but against a corporation they are vastly more willing to hand out large judgements.

        Justice

        • Well said. A jury is the trier of fact; a judge is the trier of law. The judge's job is to figure out which law(s) have been broken (normally pointed out by the plaintiff and/or the criminal prosecutor), and assess from the penalties specified in the law what penalties should be applied in the case *if* the facts bear out. The public often says that it wants "justice", which the public may feel should be either more or less severe than the law specifies depending on the case, and people's state of mind, a
      • by pitchpipe (708843)

        Chances are that if YOU personally are injured that you will never see anything close to an equitable judgment.

        What?! You wouldn't believe how much money I've made off of class action settlements. At this rate I'll be able to retire in 19234 C.E.

    • by houghi (78078)

      send in the tape and a check for $50,000 because it's cheaper than going to court,

      And if you copy that tape and share it, you pay $500.000 per distributed copy.
      1) Create an oil spill
      2) Something to do with copyright as explained above.
      3) Profit

    • Discretion (Score:5, Informative)

      by Theaetetus (590071) <theaetetus.slashdot@gmail. c o m> on Thursday October 17, 2013 @03:42PM (#45156303) Homepage Journal

      Unfortunately, the law says that every time you share an MP3, god kills $150,000 worth of kittens. Statutory damages don't allow for any discretion on the part of the judge. Thank Congress for that.

      Not true. 17 USC 504(c): [cornell.edu]

      Statutory Damages.—
      (1) ... [T]he copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just...
      (2) In a case where the copyright owner sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that infringement was committed willfully, the court in its discretion may increase the award of statutory damages to a sum of not more than $150,000. In a case where the infringer sustains the burden of proving, and the court finds, that such infringer was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright, the court in its discretion may reduce the award of statutory damages to a sum of not less than $200....

      • Actually, this isn't just the judge. In Capitol v. Thomas, a jury repeatedly awarded more than the judge(s) did in every trial along the way. Because it's not just about how much damage you caused, but how much deterrent value a higher award brings. There were several juries, and they also awarded wildly different amounts; Each time the judge reduced it post-trial.

        It can be inferred from this that when ordinary people review these cases, they judge them much more harshly than the judge does. This whole 'dis

        • Actually, this isn't just the judge. In Capitol v. Thomas, a jury repeatedly awarded more than the judge(s) did in every trial along the way. Because it's not just about how much damage you caused, but how much deterrent value a higher award brings. There were several juries, and they also awarded wildly different amounts; Each time the judge reduced it post-trial.

          It can be inferred from this that when ordinary people review these cases, they judge them much more harshly than the judge does. This whole 'discretion' thing you're on about is not only very likely in play here, it's probably more generous than the average person would be given the facts of the case.

          The judge, however, was reversed repeatedly by the appeals court, because the statute doesn't allowed the judge to overrule the jury in that manner. The statute says that it's the discretion of the court, not a unilateral reversal by one member of the court over the others.

          Statutory damages are in a range of, as you so nicely quoted, go from $750 to $30,000 -- the judge can't pick a number outside of those ranges. And in the case of 17 USC 504(c), you only quoted part of it.

          I didn't think it was relevant to discuss libraries or broadcasters. If you find fault with how I edited the quote, I did provide the link, too.

          $750-30,000 is the figure quoted for infringement period. In other words, knowledge or no knowledge, that's how much you're getting slapped with.

          Not so - see "innocent infringement", with has a penalty of $200 per work. Specifically: "in a

      • by MobyDisk (75490)

        Your statement is technically correct, but it misses the intended meaning:

        While there is court discretion, there is a statutory minimum. The problem is that the law doesn't state what the unit of measure for a single infringement is. So when the unit of measure is one download of one song, a $200 minimum is unreasonable. That would be $3000 for a single download of a single audio CD. If the file was torrented, the dollar amount increases exponentially as the file is shared.

        That is how Jamie Thomas wound

        • Your statement is technically correct

          The best kind of correct!

          ... but it misses the intended meaning:

          While there is court discretion, there is a statutory minimum. The problem is that the law doesn't state what the unit of measure for a single infringement is. So when the unit of measure is one download of one song, a $200 minimum is unreasonable. That would be $3000 for a single download of a single audio CD. If the file was torrented, the dollar amount increases exponentially as the file is shared.

          That's not true - or, technically, not true any more (and hasn't been true since the 1970s). From the statute quoted above:

          [T]he copyright owner may elect, at any time before final judgment is rendered, to recover, instead of actual damages and profits, an award of statutory damages for all infringements involved in the action, with respect to any one work, for which any one infringer is liable individually, or for which any two or more infringers are liable jointly and severally, in a sum of not less than $750 or more than $30,000 as the court considers just...

          The unit of measure is "one work", and applies to any and all acts of infringement with respect to that work. For example, if you download a copy of the song once, that's one infringement. If you make a copy for your friend, that's another. If you upload it to thousands of people, that's thousands of infringements... but all of these are "with respect to any on

  • For every site they take down, hundreds more will pop up.

    This is just a scare tactic. $110 Million? The company only had $5 Million in assets. This is all show. They will never actually get $110 Million. Ever.

  • by Maow (620678) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @03:37PM (#45156225) Journal

    ISOhunt had 5-6 million dollars - presumably from hosting ads along with links?

    That makes the "we weren't hosting any infringing content ourselves" defense, which I've always been sympathetic toward, somewhat inconsequential.

    The fact that the site (owners) profited to the tune of multiple millions of dollars by facilitating copyright infringement kind of rubs me the wrong way. Had they done it for not much more than hosting fees I'd be more aligned with them receiving a "shut down, now" penalty.

    And before I'm called a corporate shill, I fight the mess that copyright laws have become by boycotting the big content producers. They haven't made one single cent from me in many years, nor have I pirated any of their content. I've learned that I just don't need what they're selling.

    • by RichMan (8097) on Thursday October 17, 2013 @03:41PM (#45156289)

      ISOhunt provided the index. From the index they made a profit.

      The "Yellow Pages" is a profitable form for finding things. The makers of the yellow pages make money, yet they provide none of the services they index.

      • by CCarrot (1562079)

        ISOhunt provided the index. From the index they made a profit.

        The "Yellow Pages" is a profitable form for finding things. The makers of the yellow pages make money, yet they provide none of the services they index.

        Except, perhaps, advertising in the Yellow Pages :)

    • Clearly there is customer demand for such a service. Maybe they should knock off the cartel crap and start selling their products the way people want them. It would be much easier to get rid of places like isoHunt if they actually had a competing service.

    • The fact that the site (owners) profited to the tune of multiple millions of dollars by facilitating copyright infringement kind of rubs me the wrong way.

      I agree, US govt should give them the same treatment they give the banks that laundry untold of billions of cartel drug money made by murder of tens of thousands.

      After all, considering all that pirates have done [wikipedia.org]

  • They mean they have agreed to declare bankruptcy.

  • How much of that $5-6 million will go to the musicians who, presumably/supposedly, have been losing income through the activities of ISOhunt ? Call me cynical, but I suspect that none of it will. The money will be used to hand out bonuses to MPAA employees & lawyers and the rest to fund future MPAA activities.

    Will someone please remind me what the ultimate purpose of the MPAA is supposed to be.

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