Wikinews interviews Gary Fung from isoHunt

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Thursday, March 9, 2006

As reported on Wikinews, isoHunt, a torrent and IRC search site frequented by a massive number of Internet users everyday, has recently been one of the targets of the Motion Picture Association of America's anti-piracy campaign. Originally starting out as an IRC indexing site in January of 2003, isoHunt added torrent search later that year in July and has been steadily growing since. By December, isoHunt had 16,248 torrents available. Today that amount is around 250,000.

isoHunt has survived while many similar sites around it crumbled, yet was operating long before the others had even been thought of. In April of 2005, isoHunt also gained Torrentbox after its administrator gave it to Gary Fung of isoHunt.

Wikinews interviewed Mr. Fung, the 22 year-old Canadian administrator of the sites.

Why did you start your site?
For fun, and to learn web programming (PHP and Mysql). Also a web search engine for P2P networks has not been done, and would be useful.

I read on your site at the time, news of the MPAA's actions hit the news, that you had not been notified, how did you find out? How did you react?
I found out first from Mike at Slyck.com, who have received letters of the press release, along with other news outlets like CNET. Within a few hours, all the news sites posted about it.

Do you feel it is appropriate for the MPAA to publicly announce that they have commenced action against your sites and others before you even receive notification?
Yes, although not surprising. Factually speaking, industry associations like the MPAA often use the threat of pending lawsuits to intimidate to-be defendants, and it serves their purpose of spreading FUD to the public at large.

Have you ever received a takedown notice from any company in accordance with the DMCA?
At least once a day, often many times a day. I've lost count of how many takedown requests we've received now, it would be at least in the hundreds, if not a thousand. We have a thorough copyright policy outlining our stance, compliance and procedures: http://isohunt.com/dmca-copyright.php. Some of them come back and actually thank us with satisfaction for our prompt processing. For others, such as indie content producers for TV shows and movies, we actually talk to them about using BitTorrent to aid their distribution. And such partnerships are in the works.

How do you go about dealing with them?
We verify their authenticity, whether identified works are within their copyright, and disable them if found to be aiding in possible copyright infringement.

Do you think the service you provide is any different to that of major search engines such as Google and Yahoo?
No. We are all search engines, only designed for different markets. "Torrents" for example are metadata pointers that describe and link to resources on BitTorrent swarms. Google and isoHunt for example are different only in forms of links and types of data they index. Both serve the purpose of organizing information on open networks on the internet (WWW and P2P), making them useful and searchable.

According to the isoHunt website, Gary received official notification of the MPAA's lawsuit on February 28, 2006. Gary admits that he was impressed by the amount of research which was put into the suit. He said: "I have to say I am impressed by the depth of their legal research, evidently their lawyers have been watching us for at least a year, since we exchanged letters last year. However, their core accusation is false. We do NOT operate this search engine and other P2P services for the express object of infringing MPAA's copyrights, there are many other torrents of content we index that are not owned by the MPAA, copyrighted or non-copyrighted. We would comply with DMCA takedown requests, given sufficient identification. Which they did not."

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Wikinews
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