Torrent search website IsoHunt owner demands trial by jury

The owner of file-sharing website IsoHunt has demanded that a federal appeals court grant its case a trial by jury.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributing Writer on

Following a court order, the owner of IsoHunt, a file-sharing and torrent link search website, is demanding a jury-based trial.

Gary Fung, owner of three torrent-related websites IsoHunt, Torrentbox, and Podtropolis, recently lost an appeal against Hollywood movie studios to have keyword search filters removed from the flagship site IsoHunt's results. The injunction forces Fung to keep a filter in place based on a prescribed list provided by the MPAA three years ago, even though copyrighted material can still be found easily on the website.

The presiding Judge, Marsha Berzon, said that IsoHunt did not qualify for safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), as Fung had "red flag" knowledge of copyright infringement taking place under his nose, and went so far as to interact and encourage users to download protected media. In addition, each website generates advertising revenue, some of which is generated when users search for copyrighted material.

The panel, which encompassed of three judges, ruled against Fung, declaring that the MPAA automatically won its case against the file-sharing site, in a move which could cost the owner millions of dollars in damages.

However, Fung’s attorney, Ira Rothken, wrote to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, saying that the federal appeals court should grant a jury by trial, and that "Fung submits that, in a serious miscarriage of justice in a landmark case, he has been wrongfully denied trial by jury and found liable by judges on disputed facts through application of erroneous legal standards."

As reported by Wired, Fung says that he does not control his users, and if links to copyrighted material are found, it is due to user uploads and not him personally, and files have been removed upon request.

In addition, an appeals court has received the request that IsoHunt's case be heard by a larger panel of judges. Rothken argues that IsoHunt's case is no different to tech giant Google, as the firm's search engine can also be used to find hosted links to copyrighted media.

However, the court has argued that while Google's search engine qualifies for safe harbor, Fung's torrent-indexing sites do not, as their primary purpose is to encourage the distribution of illegal content -- with advertising to back it up -- whereas Google's primary purpose is not the same.

(via Wired)

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