In 2010 a conglomerate of record labels – including the ‘Big Four’ of Sony, EMI, Warner and Universal – went after BitTorrent site isoHunt.
The site and its owner are accused of facilitating copyright infringement on a massive scale. Through the 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.
“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 labels wrote in their complaint.
This week isoHunt’s Gary Fung filed a response to the accusations. Turning the tables Fung argues that it’s not isoHunt but the record labels that are the real threat. The labels are waging war on the Internet and trying to restrict basic human rights by trying to shut down file-sharing services, Fung says.
“In our latest response to CRIA filed in Court, we ask the Supreme Court of British Columbia to adjudicate this crucial issue of balance between the constitutional rights of people on the Internet to communicate, share and search, versus the rights of copyright industries to limit such rights in the corporate interest of protecting and extending copyright,” Fung tells TorrentFreak.
“isoHunt urges the court to examine this issue carefully, for the sake of innovations on the Internet, free exchange of culture, and fundamental constitutional freedoms.”
In the pleading isoHunt explains how BitTorrent works and notes that isoHunt’s role in the downloading process is relatively small.
The site positions itself as a neutral technology platform that merely indexes .torrent files stored across hundreds of websites on the Internet. As such, they are not promoting, authorizing or encouraging copyright infringement, they claim.
isoHunt argues that the record labels and other copyright industries are trying to systematically shut down these neutral file-sharing systems. Thereby, they breach basic human rights such as the right to freedom of expression.
“Freedom of expression on the Internet is under attack. From SOPA in the US, ACTA internationally, and C-11 in Canada, the same theme is apparent on the agenda of copyright industry groups: instead of dealing with actual copyright violators, they want to shut down technologies and internet services that they say will be used by violators,” Fung told TorrentFreak.
“It’s the same alarmist approach that goes back to the VCR and the radio. As the Internet emerges as the de-facto medium of communication, sharing and expression, the control over distribution by copyright industries is threatened. In turn, the constitutional freedom of expression of Canadians and all participants on the Internet is threatened.”
With this case in Canada and the US case against the MPAA, isoHunt is at the forefront of the legal censorship debate in Northern America. Both cases are crucial for the future of file-sharing related services and are expected to set an important precedent.
Fung is determined to take the cases as far as possible to defend people’s rights and the open Internet, a battle that is expected to last for years.