Last September, isoHunt decided to sue the CRIA looking for confirmation that the site is not doing anything illegal. In an act of self defense, isoHunt owner Gary Fung filed a petition (pdf) asking the Court of British Columbia to confirm that isoHunt –and sister sites Torrentbox and Podtropolis– do not infringe copyright.
“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.
IsoHunt has asked the court to decide whether .torrent files, and BitTorrent search engines in particular, are infringing copyright or not. In other words, should BitTorrent search engines be held liable for the .torrent files that might point to copyrighted data? If so, what does this mean for other search engines, and sites such as YouTube?
Today, isoHunt and the CRIA appeared in court. While isoHunt asked the court to rule that they do not break any laws, the CRIA is demanding a full trial against the BitTorrent site.
This landmark case might be the one to define how files can be distributed online. Among other things, isoHunt argues that they are just a search engine, like Google, and that they have no control over the files they find elsewhere on the web. In court today, they showed that a filetype:torrent search for Coldplay on Google returns plenty of torrent files, similar to a search on isoHunt.
All isoHunt does is index other BitTorrent trackers and indexers, without human intervention. The files that can be found on isoHunt are scattered all over the Internet, and even these files are just metadata.
IsoHunt founder Gary Fung told TorrentFreak that the judge converted their petition into action at the end of today’s hearing. “He just thinks the issues are too complicated and consequences far reaching legally and technically, and a full trial is more appropriate for discovering all documents,” Gary said.
“The important issue is not about the complexity or ramifications of our case which we won’t dispute, but rather CRIA liking to use full action and discovery because it’s costly for all parties and the court and was exactly why we decided to bring our petition first for efficiency before they were going to sue with an action,” Gary told TorrentFreak in a response. IsoHunt is likely to appeal the order for conversion.
To be continued.