You wouldn’t want to be isoHunt founder Gary Fung these days. (Note: That’s the best story about BitTorrent I’ve read in some time. Take a few minutes to read all of it.) He’s currently facing an MPAA lawsuit that could well result in fines in the millions of dollars. (TorrentSpy was ordered to cough up $100 million last year.) And even if Mr. Fung doesn’t have that kind of money, and he doesn’t, the MPAA is prepared to pursue any judgement “for the rest of his life.” The MPAA sounds like it means business.
So here’s what’s going on. The MPAA, on a high after being award $100 million in a lawsuit against TorrentSpy, is going after isoHunt, one of the biggest torrent sites out there. The site, which is for-profit, is run by Mr. Fung and a small staff. It makes money with advertisements, not by “selling” movies or whatever. But try telling that to the MPAA, which is prepared, apparently, to follow Mr. Fung to the ends of the Earth to get its pound of flesh.
Stephen Fabrizio is an MPAA lawyer, and a former RIAA lawyer. (Need a job? Go to law school and get hitched with the RIAA/MPAA; they’re always hiring, it seems.) He says:
The isoHunt site was founded and exists almost exclusively to profit from copyright infringement. Statistical studies we did—which are likely as accurate as those that anyone has done—show that over 95% [of torrents], or almost everything, and several percent we couldn’t identify, are infringing. This site exists for one purpose: to allow people to steal. That is why he started the website, that’s why he operates it and that’s what he profits from.
Is it theft, or is it copyright infringement? They’re two different things.
But the worst is this. What happens if Mr. Fung doesn’t have millions of dollars to pay. Says the MPAA lawyer:
But the judgment doesn’t go away. If Gary Fung creates a legitimate website, we’ll be there. If he sells that company for $100 million, we’ll be there. For the rest of his life we’ll be able to pursue that judgment.
In other words, unless Mr. Fung is prepared to pull a Brooks, from The Shawshank Redemption, the MPAA will make Mr. Fung’s life a living Hell.
Mr. Fung is trying to pull the ol’ “but isoHunt is just a search engine” defense, but considering the technological knowledge of the political élite, I’m not too sure it will work.