isoHunt Files New Statement of Claim Against CRIA

isoHunt, the Canadian-based Torrent search engine, has filed a follow-up statement of claim against the Canadian Recording Industry Association as it seeks a declaration that it is operating legally in Canada. The filing is well worth reading as it explains BitTorrent technology and argues that isoHunt is a P2P search engine that merely indexes torrent files found on other indexing sites (it describes itself as a Super-Indexer).  Further, it notes the limits of its involvement in the copying process as well as its compliance with the DMCA notice-and-takedown system. isoHunt clearly tries to position itself as a specialized search engine that does not host infringing content. The filing is the second in the case.  CRIA challenged isoHunt's earlier filing, arguing that a full trial was needed.  The B.C. courts agreed and this marks the continuation of the case. 

The CRIA response will be interesting since it faces a conflict between its rhetoric and its view of Canadian law.  On the one hand, it has argued that the isoHunt case is indication that Canadian law is out-of-date, suggesting that it provides a clear sign that reform is needed.  On the other, given that it initiated cease and desist letters, it is unlikely to simply say that isoHunt is correct and that it is operating legally.  In other words, if it challenges isoHunt's claims, it acknowledges that it believes that Canadian law can be used to stop torrent search sites.  If it doesn't make such an argument, it can continue to make the claim for reform, but it loses the case.


  1. Or it can proceed with the case and argue that Canadian law is inadequate but it has no choice but to use what tools are available

  2. New search engine
    We need a new torrent search engine.

    Since bittorrent clients like Azeurus can act like a host and allow sharing with friends, what about a site that people could make a friend, and which acted like a proxy separating the hosting clients and the real search engine (Google). The Google spiders could search the proxy site and would see torrent files there that aren’t really there, but are hosted by the Azeurus clients.

    This way. Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc, are being used as the search engine, and not even the torrent files (let alone the content) will be hosted on the proxy site, but the proxy will be able to provide an extensive list of torrent files and retrieve them (or provide a link) for other clients and search engine spiders when requested. People using this system could host content and/or torrent files as they wish.

    This would far more directly implicate the big search engine companies, so that even if the courts could some how reason a way to hold isoHunt libel without implicating Google, there would be no way to do the same here. Also, it would mean that not only would the site/proxy not be hosting copyright content, they would not even be hosting the torrent files. They would only provide a link to, or retrieve upon request, the torrent file which does point to the possibly infringing content. This would add another degree of separation between the torrent site/proxy and the content.

    Anyone what to build it? If it existed before isoHunt goes to trial, I’m sure it would help their case.

  3. re Hook – and you wonder why we’re headign for 3-strikes laws

  4. “and demanded, among other actions, that the isoHunt website be
    removed from the Internet, failing which it would seek court remedies pursuant to
    the Copyright Act, including legal costs, punitive damages, injunctive relief, and
    statutory damages of up to $20,000 for each sound recording infringed.”

    It looks like they’re claiming that Canadian Copyright is good enough to me.
    Its either is or it isn’t. Not both. The CRIA and their puppet Barry Sookman with their puppet stand (McCarthy Tétrault) are trying to fool you.

  5. @Bob,

    No, actually it is no wonder at all. It is entirely due to the media companies’ death grip upon our government. Many content providers of all sorts are going to go bankrupt as the world changes. This 3-strikes thing as well as shotgun lawsuits on customers are last ditch efforts to save themselves.

    As Cory Doctorow said in his recent article. Copying is harder now that it will ever be in the future. Next year it will be easier, and the year after that, easier again. Until the content providers can come up with a business model that does not rely on the act of copying being difficult or expensive, they will always be facing their own mortality.

    Don’t go blaming P2P or the users of P2P. There are literally millions of them. A whole generation in fact. Blaming them for the content providers problems because they like to get their content via Bit Torrent, is akin to blaming society for the failure of religion because they don’t go to church any more.

    Obviously a very large segment of society is fed up with copyright laws. They don’t respect them as they are, and the stronger they become they will lose even more respect. Who is right? Well consider that copyright is not a natural right, but is a social contract. Its terms are totally arbitrary. Also consider that individuals now have the power to decide whether they will abide by its terms or not. The fact that many millions of people are turning to P2P indicates that one party in this contract would like to renegotiate its terms, and not in the way that the media companies are trying to ram down our throats.

    A government cannot impose laws that a significant majority of the population don’t agree with, without using very draconian measures and disproportionate consequences to terrorize the population into compliance. That is what all the current measures and official discussions amount to now, and is the only option for the old establishment to keep its power.

  6. 20th Century thinking in 2009
    The problem is that the entertainment industry is clinging to an outmoded distribution model based on scarcity, which is no longer the case. Thanks to cheap storage and bandwidth, distribution costs are next to nil. Production costs have also plummeted: bands and indie filmmakers can create pro-level content for a fraction of what it cost 20 years ago. Instead of recognizing this and consequently innovating, the industry continues with its business-as-usual approach and is employing our courts and governments to entrench into law business practices that are no longer viable.

  7. Hook “Blaming them for the content providers problems because they like to get their content via Bit Torrent, is akin to blaming society for the failure of religion because they don’t go to church any more”. No, the problem is they want their content via Bit Torrent without having to pay for it.

  8. @Hook, I would say more that the media companies have a death grid on the US government, and the US has a death grip on our government 🙂

    @Jake Irrelevant of illicit file sharing, advancing technology is making distribution and marketing a smaller and smaller part of the industry. Particularly in the music industry; not sure what is up with the movie industry, they are just doing a terrible job and charging ridiculous prices to top it off. The big labels are doomed, but they are sure going to make our lives hell going down.

  9. @Bob
    Even if there were a huge crime problem, that normally wouldn’t imply we would hand over control of dispensing justice to corporations. Normally crime, etc would be handled in a responsible way. People not wanting to pay for music may be a problem alright, but it’s not the problem that is causing the new legislation.

  10. @Bob – I don’t think that people turn to bittorrent, just because it’s free. I think there are lots of people that turn to bittorrent, becuase it’s convenient.

    When I go online to listen/watch/buy content, i was a no hassle experience. With each layer or “sign-up”, “drm”, “forced ads”, “not available in your area”, it just makes alternatives that much easier. The music industry has finally caught on, somewhat, but by then, people that started to use bittorrent, just stay with it, because they hate change, and it’s more convenient.

    The video industry still hasn’t caught on… but by the time they do, it will be too late for them as well. The time to embrace the new technology is now… every day they don’t, will only hurt their long term business even more. If they can’t find a way to make money, then hire some young fresh college/university business grads, and let them have a shot.

  11. @steve
    Well put. Torrent is simply a delivery mechanism, not unlike FedEx or the post office. Might as well blame them for the failure of local business when they deliver mail order.

    Some people want it through BitTorrent as it is free… however many others (I beleive) would rather have access to a reliable source that doesn’t try to screw them over every chance they get. Once the labels start to get that concept, they may be able to start making some coin from online sales.

    I also suspect that the labels are against BitTorrent (and other such file sharing) because it means that they will become irrelevant without adjusting to the times; the content producer has the capability to advertise themselves, through the release of lower quality audio and video samples, bypassing the labels marketing machine; the labels don’t get their tithe (although I suspect they get much more than a tenth). Note that the 3 accusations rules that the labels want to put in place would also help to delay the inevitable; they can simply accuse an independent of making available copyrighted material and get the independent’s channel shut off (don’t think they won’t do this; remember when the RIAA tried to extort money, err, collect a “fine” from someone, who was sharing the song, for a song that wasn’t in the RIAA repertoire 2 or 3 years ago?)

  12. If you happen to use linux, bittorrent is widely used for doing operating system updates, application installs, and all sorts of non even remotely questionable activities.

  13. @Bob “No, the problem is they want their content via Bit Torrent without having to pay for it. ”

    Even if that were the case. The fact that millions of people are doing it sort of suggests that perhaps people are not happy with the current rules. Like laws that say you can’t have a clothes line in your back yard, can’t shop on sunday, or can’t record your favorite TV show for later viewing; if enough people ignore the law, then the law has to to change, or risk becoming irrelevant.

    I strongly suspect that if copyright law were in the least bit reasonable, then you would find a lot more people willingly complying with it. It isn’t, people don’t, and governments response it to make the law tougher still, which will have exactly opposite the desired effect as more and more people show their disdain for the law.

  14. @Bob
    Sure, some small number of people will go to great lengths to get stuff for free. The point is that you’re never going to get them to pay anyway. Basing any business model on their behaviour is a waste of time.

    The vast majority will pay if you offer them something that they consider to be worth the price. That concept of value is extremely complex, and includes convenience, features, etc, but a lot of it is the economic concept of “marginal cost”. The cost to make one more copy of a given piece of content has plummeted in the last couple of decades, and yet the companies trying to sell it to us want us to pay more for something that is less convenient – it only plays in certain devices, can’t be backed-up, disappears if some company goes out of business, etc, etc. And that’s supposed to compete with something that you can use the way that works for you and that costs nothing except time and inconvenience ? “Can’t compete with free” is misleading – the simple fact is that these companies have no choice. They need to figure out how to compete with free or go out of business.

    If the music companies offered high-quality mp3 tracks for 10 cents, they’d take an awful lot of traffic away from bittorrent and the like, just because of the convenience factor. Most people would pay that little bit extra to avoid the inconveniences associated with the filesharing networks. Of course if they did that, the executives may be forced to do with one fewer Ferrari, too…

  15. There wouldn’t be so much animosity towards the music & film industries if they’d at least try to offer some sort of alternative to torrents. Right now with torrents you can download any show or movie you want, when you want it, and play it on any device that you happen own. Even if it wasn’t free, there currently aren’t any legal alternatives that don’t involve some sort of crippling DRM or other unnecessary inconvenience.

    Lack of alternatives is especially a problem in Canada, though it looks like we might finally be getting something similar to Netflix streaming from soon. Who knows if it’ll be any good, especially with all this Usage Based Billing crud that’s going to be introduced.

    These industries should focus on creating services that actually meet current consumer demands, instead of trying to enshrine their failing business models in international law.

  16. I’m going to start my own internet, where I will be king!

  17. There wouldn’t be so much animosity towards the music and film industries if they weren’t so corrupt. If the music labels didn’t take the copyrights away from the people who make the music, or if the artists received a fair share of the profits, the musicians might not be hating and abandoning them.

    If they didn’t horde all the copyrights together and abuse the resulting monopolies, or if their business plan wasn’t to whip everyone into walking the line they want, maybe their customers wouldn’t be hating and abandoning them.

    If they weren’t “funding” politicians and statistics to get tailor made legislation to benefit themselves while harming everyone else, if they weren’t interfering in countries’ legistlative process, or even if they would target actual commercial sources copyright infringment before trying to paint people’s kids and grandmothers as criminal overlords whose lives should be ruined as punishment, maybe everyone else wouldn’t hate them so much.

    I don’t think they care though, their plan seems to be to get people’s money *without* enticing client’s and customers. Perhaps they can survive using more reliable and less volentary ways of getting people’s money.

  18. grunt
    torrents are dead already.

    also: assuming free copies… and desperate content makers..

    and 99% of the money goes to number one hit
    people making mashups and issuing takedowns (after resale to mega corps, natch) to originators will be the problem.

    torrents have NOTHING on sat feeds. Given canadian speeds, it’s easier to trade a 500 gig drive than torrent anything.
    you’d get LOTS more material too.


  19. just a thought about the argument of lost sales.
    Some people will “consume” just for the mere fact that it is free. if it’s not then they wont. these people are and will never be “lost sales” — how can you loose something that you never owned? —
    on the contrary they might be potential sales, if they see enough value in the product and have the opportunity.
    (I for used to download friends episodes, I really liked it … recently I had the opportunity to get the hole collection for a decent price. I bought it, I could have just downloaded it.)

  20. low income please consider me!!!! says:

    i see that all of you take the blame on p2p dlders for being the scourge of society. it is not the case, i cant afford it and that goes for over 90% of the p2p”ers. you consider that anyone has a minimum of 1 car and house or forget that canada has a large part of its society made of low income individuals. would i not buy a movie??? yeah sure, price has to drop to meet my current wallet. or go for a reasonable sallary. most p2p dlders are from lower developped countries that i can assure you, with the current economic crisys i dont see many mpeople affording to pay for a movie i know you probably have a bigger sallary than the average person so yea you can take the blame on p2pers becuase you dont have theyr financial situation. try putting yourself in their shoes please. i am ok to buy after i make over 3500$.

    yes the music and movie industry is ripping itself appart that is in large part due to overpricing and fat walleted managers who can not comprehend that there is also good profit if you you sell with a few zeros cut but with a significantly increased number of sales. i am sorry for my intrusive aproach and ortographical mistakes.

  21. low income please consider me!!!! says:

    i never had your opportunities. immigrant here.

  22. The main thing that the CRIA doesn’t understand
    Is that the REAL way that copyright laws are out of date is that they are too leaning in THEIR direction. We really need copyright to only be allowed for 4 years, at most, on everything from movies to music to games, whether or not ‘new versions’ are coming out.

    We have gotten to a point where copyright is stifling innovation, and it’s time to reform copyright, even if it leaves some big media companies a little ‘sore-butted’ afterwards.

  23. Gotta love ISOhunt’s angle. Go get ’em!

    Pat Donovan: dunno what you’re on about – torrents most definitely aren’t “dead” already. Guess you just don’t get around the web much or don’t care. It’s OK though, I respect your opinion.

    oh, don’t forget darknet & Tor, among other things. (point being, technology moves faster than policy, unfortunately)

  24. @ maebnoom
    oh, don’t forget darknet & Tor, among other things. (point being, technology moves faster than policy, fortunately)

    …fixed that for ya …

  25. ACTA
    The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement will solve all of this. Sure, you might think ACTA is about counterfeiting but you would be wrong. It’s actually all about copyright. It should be called the Pro-Copyright Trade Agreement, or PCTA but that doesn’t have much of a ring to it.

    But once everyone is kicked off of the internet we won’t have to worry over silly things like isoHunt and the CRIA. Then the internet can be turned into something a little more manageable, like television.

    Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

  26. Logic
    Your asking them to be logical. i am sure they will likely want their cake and eat it too. They will continue to make both claims i am sure of that.

  27. Logic
    I am sure they will want to have their cake and eat it too. They will attempt to make both claims as they go forward and are not interested in logic. They will claim Canadian law does not work for them at the same time using it to shut people down. As unnecessary middle men attempt to keep alive in an ever changing economy they will make unsupported and outlandish claims as any business that is dying does.

  28. @Chris Brand
    It is the old issue of the margin vs overall profit. Most companies in North America, in recent years, have been moving towards higher margins (so long as they can reach a particular profit level that is). It makes the financial statements look better; after all, you appear to be a better marketer if you sell, say, 20000 units for a total profit of $200K, than if you sell 40000 units for a total profit of $300K. Most normal people would think that the latter is better performance, but to many in the financial community the former seems to be considered better performance.

    In the case of the music and movie publishers, in particular, they are in a position where they’ve cornered themselves. They ignored online sales and are trying to catch up; they’ve managed to convince governments that the loss in revenue is due mostly to downloading, whereas much of it is in fact due to publishers pulling out of the collective and the impact of retailers such as Walmart (the CRIA compared the sales stats of one year to the previous year without mentioning that a number of labels left the CRIA during that reporting period, and Walmart is doing their thing and lower the amount they are willing to pay per unit once the publisher gets hooked on sales through Walmart). In the case of the former, this is pure and utter spin. In the case of the latter, the labels could take on their own direct to the consumer sales but they’ve been unwilling to do so.

    For “low income” above, I don’t mean to sound crass, but why would you spend the income that you have on items such as high speed internet when you can get dial-up for a lower price? Of course, this makes P2P pretty much a non-starter as dialup tends to have insufficient bandwidth for a lot of applications (including P2P), however to engage in an employment search it is fine.

  29. random observations
    I have been in this industry for over 35 years. I have practiced and taught advanced programming, advanced networking, and advanced hardware diagnosis. When I say I know more about the underlying technologies involved with the internet than 99% of the so called “experts” I see here and elsewhere on the net, I do so from a experience base that is much more extensive than most. I’ve been deeply involved longer than Arpanet has existed. I watched these technologies develop from their seeds.

    So when I say that P2P technologies are not only here to stay, they are developing and evolving at a breakneck pace, I know what I am talking about. Adapt or perish.

    The approach taken by the CRIA (and affiliates) to P2P sharing has a lot in common with Prohibition “experiments” by various countries in the early to mid 1900. In the US it took 14 years for the laws to be repealed. We now live in the “fast paced” internet age, and any laws enacted to “assist” the cause of shutting down P2P sharing will probably be repealed within 14 months (after a quick change of government).

    Beware any “3 strikes” laws. The bigger you are, or the more you depend on the internet (are you listening CRIA? RIAA? MPAA?) the bigger the target. Unless there are special “exemptions” in the laws (try writing THAT into law nowadays), for every “complaint” you issue against a P2P sharing individual, you will get 1000 against you, your agents, and anyone associated with you. Monitoring for P2P infringement is very difficult without an internet connection, and you will lose a dozen to a hundred for every “complaint” you make. Your connections are a LOT easier to find than the infringing ones. It will become a game to find you and shut you down. And you will have sponsored the “legal platform” to do so.
    Have you ever played “wack-a-mole”? Do you think you can win if the moles are smarter (in tech terms) than you are, and their population is growing faster than yours?

    The “new age” is already here. In the case of music and movies, P2P sharing doesn’t generally happen because it’s “free”, it happens because it’s convenient. The bar has been set. If you want your customers back, you have to meet or beat that level of convenience, in all aspects, at a value level they will accept. Adapt or die.

    I would prefer to see all copyright holders be compensated for their works. I hold a few myself. But I am also a realist, with enough technology and psychology smarts to know what will work and what won’t. Using the internet as a distribution network is almost zero cost “per unit”. You can either play into the “new age” and make a few cents profit per unit, or you can fight it and collect nothing but disdain and distrust. Unfortunately, there isn’t room for multiple levels of management or expensive advertising campaigns in this model. The smaller shops will not only survive, they will flourish.

    Stronger copyright infringement punishment won’t help. What is the psychology of individuals that think the only reason most people in a society “obey laws” is because of the fear of consequences? I am married to a criminologist, and people that think this way are only a short step from criminal acts themselves. The only thing that holds them back, are the threat of consequences. No guts.. Thankfully, the vast majority of society doesn’t think this way.

  30. CRIA and RIAA
    Problem we have now is that these organizations are claiming copyright on everything known to man. There are several take down notices going out to artists right now when they themselves are the copyright holders. It would seem their source of information for copyright material is the billboard top 100 and indy music lists not an actual list of infringing material. Meaning the artists themselves cannot distribute and the CRIA and RIAA are shutting down the indy industry using DCMA like laws.

  31. stupid snake that bit its own tail.
    criminalize your potential customers (lost sales argument is ridiculously funny), kill your sources of “IP” material, and cry wolf!