Pirates around the world, remove your stove hats for a minute of silence please. Isohunt, one of the world's longest running and most popular torrent search sites has finally succumbed to legal pressure from the media lobby and US government and has been forced to settle on a cease and desist order and a payout of $110 million. This means Isohunt will shut down for the last time next week and since there's no way the site's founder and owner, Gary Fung, has that sort of money, he's going to be doing something else for a while. Taking pictures it seems.
While the announcement for the site's closure was made in the press first, Mr Fung has a new blog opened up where he's addressed it, in a near heartbreakiing manner: “It's sad to see my baby go,” he began. “But I have fought the good fight I have finished the race and I have remained faithful. 10.5 years of isoHunt has been a long journey by any business definition, and forever in Internet startup time. It started as a programming hobby in my university days that has become so, so much more. It’s been a learning experience beyond what I imagined. I’ve done the best I could pushing the social benefits of BitTorrent and file sharing, the searching and sharing of culture itself, but it’s time for me to move on to new software ideas and projects.”
If his second and only other post (at the moment) are anything to go by, it looks like one of those new projects could be photography. Whatever it is though, he may launch a Kickstarter for it soon, so it'll be worth keeping an eye on what he's up to.
While Isohunt is down, and Mr Fung is almost definitely out, there is one glimmer of hope in that of Isohunt's SCOTUS petition, which hopes to convince the Supreme Court to hear him. In it, Fung highlights how a similar site, Grokster, wasn't held responsible for piracy on its site, even though it hosted links. Similarly Isohunt has never hosted copyright protected content, it merely facilitated it by providing file sharing facilities and a search engine.[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QsBiuNJiVM'] There's only one man who can give Isohunt the send off it deserves.
Still, this not only represents an end of an era for Mr Fung, Isohunt and the site's users, who have all been involved in its operation for over a decade (Isohunt's 10th birthday rolled around in January this year) but for the lawsuit. In his address on the site's founding day, Fung spoke about how he'd been combating legal action from media lobbyists and the authorities for over seven years: “I'm tired of this squabble and them trying to make me and IsoHunt another scapegoat in their crusade of no historic meaning,” he said.
At least now he'll get to rest and put this sort of litigious atmosphere to bed and can move on to something bigger and better – it's just a shame that he didn't get a chance to do that with Isohunt. Addressing the site's ten years of operation, Fung spent much of his address talking bout the future and what the next ten years would bring. In his mind, Isohunt Spotlight was the way forward, where it would bring content creators and fans together, providing a simple platform for information and media sharing where everyone is fairly compensated for their work, but in a model that doesn't exploit those with less disposable income.
This was the bright future that will never be, but maybe that's ok. Fung also spoke of the solidarity of the world's internet citizens and how they stood up to SOPA, PIPA and many other restrictive policies. This gave him hope for the future and he seems to still have it now, even if the tone is a little more tired.
KitGuru Says: Best of luck Mr Fung. Here's hoping whatever you get up to next is as fulfilling for you as your site was for its many users. God speed.