Piracy site owner settles $50m lawsuit

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Isohunt did not host pirated content – but it provided links to sites where such content could be downloaded

The owner of piracy site Isohunt has agreed to settle a music industry group lawsuit for $50m (£38m).

Gary Fung announced the settlement with Music Canada via a blog published at the weekend.

Isohunt was shut down in 2013, when Mr Fung agreed to pay $110m to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

One researcher said the cases could set a “worrying” precedent for those who run sites that may link to pirated content.

A court order associated with the decision details the fees as follows: 55m Canadian dollars in damages, C$10m in “punitive, exemplary and aggravated damages” and a further C$1m to cover legal costs.

The total amounts to 50m US dollars.

The case dates from a legal order sent in May 2008 by the Canadian Recording Industry Association (CRIA), now known as Music Canada.

Privacy promise

Previously, Mr Fung had promised users that he would not disclose their data – including email and IP addresses – during legal proceedings.

“I’ve kept my word regarding users’ privacy,” he wrote.

Isohunt did not host pirated media, but rather provided users with a directory of sources from where illegal files could be downloaded.

The same model is used by The Pirate Bay, which is currently blocked in the UK.

It’s possible that cases like this could set a “worrying” precedent for social media websites, according to Ben Zevenbergen, a researcher at the Oxford Internet Institute.

“Think of social media websites like Facebook where everyone shares their favourite songs with their friends – would these services need to employ full-time copyright police?” he said.

He added: “Further, I truly wonder whether a penny of these fines ends up on artists’ royalty checks, but I highly doubt it.”

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