Torrent Sites Induce Infringement and Lose DMCA Safe Harbor–Columbia v. Fung

30 12 2009

By Eric Goldman

Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., v. Fung, 2:06-cv-05578-SVW-JC (C.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2009)

In a potentially significant ruling that got a little lost in the Christmas rush, a federal district court ruled on summary judgment that the “torrent site” Isohunt and related websites induced copyright infringement and were not eligible for the online safe harbors in 17 USC 512. This is one of only a few cases finding copyright inducement post-Grokster, and I believe it is the first to say that an inducement finding categorically eliminates any possible 512 safe harbor. While the loss of Isohunt from the marketplace may not be a big deal, it remains unclear if other, more “legitimate” websites will believe the court’s analysis also applies to them. If they do, this case could potentially affect the entire UGC industry.


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