Following legal pressure brought by the MPAA, BitTorrent search engine isoHunt has decided to redirect all visitors from the United States to a Lite version of the site. With this action, isoHunt hopes to prevent a judicial order which would require the site to implement a mandatory filter and remove torrents based on a list of ‘banned words’.
Early 2006, the MPAA issued a complaint against isoHunt and its sister site Torrentbox, claiming that owner Gary Fung operated file-sharing services and profited from copyright infringement.
The case has been dragging on ever since and last week a Californian court proposed a permanent injunction that would require isoHunt to maintain a list of banned keywords and remove torrents that match items found on it.
Fung has always been very outspoken about having to filter content from his site based on keywords, saying that such a measure is too extreme. Today, in an attempt to avert having to filter content, isoHunt is redirecting US visitors to a Lite version of the site to deal with claims of induced copyright infringement.
“Although we bring this new search engine to you with a burden from the lawsuit brought by the MPAA, we hope you understand the reason why we are making this change. It is to address concerns Judge Wilson has over inducing copyright infringement in the US,” Fung writes in an announcement.
“To protest the possibility we may be required by US law in upcoming injunction to keyword filter for US users, we have redirected isohunt.com to isohunt.hk to demonstrate the similarity to a certain other popular search engine also required to censor in China,” isoHunts owner adds.
The Lite version of the site shows users a big search box similar to the design of other search engines including Google. Unlike the present site where users can browse through various torrent categories, the lite version should not induce copyright infringement any more than other search engines. Through this change isoHunt hopes to prevent having to filter its search results.
With the Lite version of isoHunt, Gary Fung hopes to prevent the site’s closure in the US, which he prefers over a keyword filter. If the court somehow rules that it’s still violating copyright law, one has to wonder what implications this has for Google, Yahoo! and other search engines.