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Torrent site IsoHunt loses appeal against MPAA filters

A federal appeals court's ruling means that search filters -- based on keywords supplied by the MPAA's member studios -- must remain in place if the site is to stay online.

Screenshot by Charlie Osborne/CNET

Torrent search site IsoHunt has lost its appeal against Hollywood movie studios to have keyword filters removed from its results.

The court battle between the torrent indexing site and the Motion Picture Association of America's member studios has resulted in the former losing its appeal to remove an injunction that forces the Web site to filter its search results.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday upheld a 2010 ruling (PDF) that stated the site does not qualify for safe harbor under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). The site's founder, Gary Fung, allegedly had "red flag" knowledge of copyright infringements taking place through the site -- in particular, by interacting with users.

Not only did Fung use his "flagship" site IsoHunt to encourage users to upload and download copyrighted material, according to the ruling, but he also provided help for those who wanted to watch such media.

Presiding Judge Marsha Berzon also asserted that Fung's three torrent-related sites -- IsoHunt, Torrentbox, and Podtropolis -- all generate advertising revenue that the owner profits from, some of this harvested from users searching for copyrighted material.

The three-judge panel decided that this inducement and financial gain were enough to deny Fung his appeal.

This means that IsoHunt's filters must remain in place if the site is to stay online. However, even though the filtering exists -- based on keywords provided to IsoHunt by the MPAA three years ago -- there still seem to be few barriers to finding copyrighted content.

Fung told TorrentFreak: "As a search engine of links, we are not like YouTube or File Lockers. We do not have the 'right and ability to control,' short of censorship on search keywords, nor the ability to filter as the MPAA or the court suggests, as we don't touch or host the actual content."