A group of 26 major record labels have sued the owner of Canadian BitTorrent site isoHunt for allegedly facilitating copyright infringement on a massive scale. Through this lawsuit the labels hope to shut down the isoHunt website while receiving over 4 million dollars in punitive damages to compensate for their claimed losses.
These are rough times for isoHunt, one of the largest BitTorrent search engines on the Internet. After losing a long standing legal battle against the US movie industry a few months ago, isoHunt is now up against 26 major record labels in its home country Canada.
The record labels – including the ‘Big Four’ of Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal – have sued Gary Fung and his company, who own and operate the torrent sites isoHunt, Podtropolis and TorrentBox. The labels claim that these torrent sites and thus their owners, facilitate copyright infringement on a massive scale.
“The isoHunt Websites have been designed and are operated by the defendants with the sole purpose of profiting from rampant copyright infringement which defendants actively encourage, promote, authorize, induce, aid, abet, materially contribute to and commercially profit from,” the court filing reads.
“The defendants and users of the isohunt websites act together, in and part of a file-sharing community, to reproduce and distribute plaintiffs’ sound recordings and other copyright content,” the record labels add.
Through this lawsuit the labels hope to permanently shut down isoHunt and Fung’s two other sites. In addition they are asking the British Columbia Court for statutory damages for each of the listed recordings (over 200 in total), which adds up to well over $4 million.
What is further unique about such a massive lawsuit is that while it was filed in May last year, no one picked the news up until today. At this stage it is unclear why the record labels haven’t chosen to make more noise about this through the press.
TorrentFreak asked isoHunt founder Gary Fung for a comment and he told us that the lawsuit is identical to the counterclaim the record companies filed in the suit isoHunt filed against them in 2008. Isohunt sued the record labels in an act of self-defense at the time, asking the court to legalize its operations.
The current lawsuit shows several similarities to the legal proceedings between isoHunt and the MPAA. In that case the U.S. District Court of California issued a permanent injunction against BitTorrent search engine isoHunt in May last year.
The court ordered the owner of isoHunt to start censoring the site’s search engine based on a list of thousands of keywords provided by the MPAA, or cease its operations entirely in the U.S. The filter was soon implemented (for US visitors) and prevents a list of film related phrases from showing up in the search results.
IsoHunt is currently appealing the ruling in the MPAA case and will undoubtedly fight the lawsuit against the record labels as vigorously.