Hollywood had a big copyright win confirmed today against the website isoHunt. In a unanimous decision, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reaffirmed a 2009 district court ruling that found the BitTorrent site and its founder Gary Hung induced users to illegally download and pass around movies and television shows. In an opinion written by Judge Marsha Berzon (read it here) and released today, the Ninth Circuit declared that Fung and his company committed inducement because they made “no steps to develop filtering tools or other mechanisms to diminish the infringing activity by those using his services.” Led by Columbia, Disney, Paramount, Fox, Universal, TriStar and Warner Bros sued isoHunt over the copyright infringement of more than 21,000 pieces of their product. The opinion released today was based on arguments before the court on May 6, 2011.
After denying Fung and his company the safe harbor they sought as their out in the case, the court on Thursday also agreed the infringement was clear and obvious. “The record is replete with instances of Fung actively encouraging infringement, by urging his users to both upload and download particular copyrighted works, providing assistance to those seeking to watch copyrighted films, and helping his users burn copyrighted material onto DVDs. The material in question was sufficiently current and well-known that it would have been objectively obvious to a reasonable person that the material solicited and assisted was both copyrighted and not licensed to random members of the public, and that the induced use was therefore infringing,” noted the opinion.
Said the MPAA’s Global General Counsel Henry Hoberman in a statement: “Consumers today have more options than ever before to legally access movies and TV shows on the Internet – from Hulu to HBO Go to Vudu to Crackle to UltraViolet, Epix, MUBI, Netflix, Amazon, and literally hundreds of others. Clearing the field of illegal services like isoHunt will help ensure that these legitimate services can grow and thrive, and that consumers have even more movies and TV shows to watch in ever more ways”.