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IsoHunt shuts down trackers to U.S. users

Facing a copyright lawsuit from MPAA, company is trying to avoid disclosing user information.

BitTorrent search engine IsoHunt is cutting off access in the U.S. to software that enables users to download BitTorrent files, the technology that has become a powerful tool for illegal file sharing.

Gary Fung, IsoHunt's founder, said Wednesday that the decision is a result of a copyright lawsuit hanging over the company's head. The Motion Picture Association of America filed suit against IsoHunt and competitor TorrentSpy last year, accusing them of encouraging copyright violations.

IsoHunt and TorrentSpy, which elected to shut off access to its site last month to U.S. residents, are trying to avoid a court order to turn over user information to the MPAA as part of the legal discovery process.

Both companies have pledged to keep their users' identities a secret. By limiting access to their tools or site, TorrentSpy and IsoHunt say, they won't have any information to turn over.

As for data belonging to past visitors, the sites say they have never stored data for users. In an unprecedented decision, the judge wanted TorrentSpy to begin tracking information found in computer RAM.