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isoHunt and TorrentSpy to Filter Torrents
June 25, 2007
Thomas Mennecke
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It appears pressure is building on the last two remaining US based BitTorrent search engines to show some level of good faith in their fight against the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America.) isoHunt and TorrentSpy have both been battling against the movie industry for nearly two years, with mixed results. Today's news is hardly encouraging for many BitTorrent fans, as both BitTorrent sites will now automate the filtering of copyrighted content.

TorrentSpy suffered a legal setback last month, when on May 29th a Federal Judge in California ruled the site must turn over activity logs of its users for pre-trial discovery. This means the Plaintiffs in this case, namely the movie industry, are entitled to access this evidence prior to trial. The lawfirm representing TorrentSpy points out however, this ruling has been stayed pending a vigorous appeal by the defense.

The latest news from TorrentSpy has some members of this community in a state of paranoia. News.com and Wired blogs are reporting that Justin Bunnell has started a company named FileRights, which will serve to assist content owners remove unauthorized content. Paranoid TorrentSpy users might be ready to dismiss their favorite site, however this development is part of a filtering process that has always been in place.

"With FileRights we used the community networking power of the Web to automate and aggregate the entire copyright filtration process," Bunnell said. "Torrentspy now uses the FileRights cooperative filtering process to filter search results on its popular search engine."

isoHunt is also a "compliant" website, according to FileRights.com. So what's this all about? Basically, it’s a method to automate the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notification process. With FileRights, the content owner submits the file's name and hash code. Because presumably the hash code for "great_movie.avi.torrent" will be identical each time a user tries to upload the file, the amount of work (namely a DMCA notice) will be reduced.

Whether Sony or Fox studios have the patience to enter file names and hash codes of their infringing content - especially at the rate it’s entered – remains to be seen. Hash codes can be altered and files renamed. The public response to this effort indicates that this is largely a symbolic move, looking to gain a level of compliance before the day of reckoning. If the MPAA wins its battle against the two sites, the ruling against both sites might be mitigated if they demonstrated a compliant effort.

Although this move may appear as distressing to the TorrentSpy and isoHunt faithful, Gary Fung of isoHunt informed Slyck.com this latest move is not a defeatist’s strategy.

“This isn't a blow anymore than DMCA-type takedown requests both isoHunt and our sister sites [comply] to. [The] same [goes] for TorrentSpy. The idea of this is to automate the takedown process, making it easier for both websites and content owners requesting takedowns. The problem is with the DMCA and the notice and takedown regime, not what FileRights is doing.”

Gary Fung isn’t giving up the fight, just enhancing the way DMCA notices are handled. It’s an interesting move, and one that he adamantly contends is merely a method of reducing the workload. Considering the effort needed to run a popular BitTorrent site, fight the MPAA, and handle a constant flood of DMCA requests, the BitTorrent faithful are hoping he’s right.

Additionally, Justin Bunnell sees today's events as detached from TorrentSpy's fight with the MPAA.

"[TorrentSpy and FileRights] are largely separate battles," Justin told Slyck.com. "Torrentspy has always been legal and followed the DMCA take down process. FileRights is basically taking the system we developed to filter copyrighted content and extending it to the world at large. TorrentSpy is a search engine. It only finds what is out there on the net. BitTorrent is perfect for people that want to distribute shareware, their vids, etc. So if you put your application on BT and post the torrent someplace, we will want to index it. FileRights however is a way to mediate that process a rights holder can say "wait that is mine" and put the Torrent ID (hash) for that file into the system and search engines that utilize the system will then remove it simple, clean, [and efficiently]."

The site is not yet functional as the details of operation are still being worked out.


This story is filed in these Slyck News categories
BitTorrent :: Trackers/Indexers

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