For more than a year, BitTorrent search engine isoHunt has chased the Canadian music industry in court. In an act of self-defense, the founder of the site has sued the Canadian branch of the RIAA, asking the court to legalize its operations. After an initial setback, isoHunt submitted a full claim to the court this week.
During September 2008, isoHunt founder Gary Fung grew tired of the threats from the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA). Instead of waiting for the CRIA to take action against him, Fung took the unusual step of suing the music industry outfit, seeking confirmation that the site’s operations are legal.
“This is our preemptive strike with a narrowly defined petition for Declaratory Relief that we do not infringe, in anticipation they are going to file their own lawsuit that we do infringe (their copyright),” Fung told TorrentFreak at the time.
In March 2009, isoHunt and the CRIA appeared in court where the judge ruled that the issues in question were too complex and consequences too far-reaching not to move to a full trial. This decision was appealed by isoHunt, but without result, meaning that isoHunt has to go through the costly process of a full trial.
This week, isoHunt’s founder continued his crusade and filed the statement of claim (pdf) with the Supreme Court. The document describes the functionality of the search engines he operates (isoHunt and sister sites Torrentbox and Podtropolis) and asks the court to declare that these do not violate Canadian copyright law.
Despite the worsening copyright climate in other parts of the world, Fung remains confident that Canadian law is on his side. “I have high hopes for Canadian copyright laws and its courts to not make the mistakes that have been made elsewhere in the world. We must fight the increasing noise we are drowned in, that file sharing is stealing,” he said.
“As for CRIA and member record labels, if you come to your sense of reason, I would love to talk to you outside of court. The ball you’ve dropped on us is back to you,” Fung concludes.
After the partial shutdown of Mininova yesterday, isoHunt is now the second largest torrent site around in terms of traffic, trailing only behind The Pirate Bay. However, all of Fung’s torrent sites combined draw more traffic than any other torrent site around. Aside from the three torrent sites mentioned in the case and despite the legal troubles, Fung recently launched Hexagon, a new ‘social‘ BitTorrent site.