One week ago, we wrote that popular BitTorrent search engine Isohunt had been ordered by a U.S. judge to remove copyright-infringing content from their website.
Following the court decision, Isohunt owner Gary Fung announced his resolution to replace Isohunt with a lite version that would turn the site into a very simple search engine, intentionally similar to Google, but specializing in torrents. This is now the case for visitors from the US, who are redirected to the new, lite version of the site. Fung explains the move to the site’s visitors:
“Although we bring this new search engine to you with a burden from the lawsuit brought by the MPAA, we hope you understand the reason why we are making this change. It is to address concerns Judge Wilson has over inducing copyright infringement in the US. Though inducement is never our intention and we have evidence to support it, with isoHunt Lite we want to affirm publicly that isoHunt’s function is nothing more than a search engine with all the net neutrality it affords and should be afforded.”
He also addresses concerns that the site is now no different than Google or any other major search engine.
“Why would you still use isoHunt you ask now that it’s just like Google and Yahoo and you can search for torrents with those? While we won’t dispute there’s fundamental difference, on isoHunt Lite you get ranking by seeds/leechers and ratings besides search relevancy and age. A general search engine also do not group as one for identical torrents spread on multiple websites on the Web.”
It’s a cunning move that will likely expose some issues at the core of this and similar lawsuits. Now that Isohunt looks pretty much like Google, and the only difference from it (or some other “vanilla” search engine) is the fact that it provides ranking and ratings for the results, can one still argue that Isohunt is infringing copyrighted content and Google is not?