Browse Torrents

10 years of isoHunt, past and future
Posted by IH on Jan. 22
10 years of isoHunt. Jan. 22 to the day, when the domain was registered. When I started isoHunt during engineering school, I truly did not think I'd be working on it for 10 years, but here I am. Napster, Kazaa, Suprnova, LokiTorrent. Big names have come and gone, and the Internet has changed. One would think we the people of the Internet are losing to the copyright cartels, but I think different. I saw solidarity against tyranny in protests against SOPA, which did not pass (happy coincident that Internet Freedom Day, Jan. 18 when SOPA failed, is so close to our anniversary). I see musicians and filmmakers slowly but surely warming up to new possibilities of Internet distribution and promotion, abandoning notions of "1 download = 1 lost sale" in the physical age. Ideals of the Free Software movement and Creative Commons will face new challenges with 3D printed copies of physical objects, replicated from copyrightable digital designs. We are moving into the world of science fiction. Will copyright or even money be relics like in Star Trek, where all material scarcity and wants are gone, replicators can make anything needed, and holodecks can create any world imaginable? Too utopian perhaps, but if someone from 100 years ago is to look at technologies we have now, a lot of it maybe construed as magic too.

Without being strictly sentimental with the past or the future, there's a point I'm trying to make. I did not think I'd be working on isoHunt for 10 years, but I have. I'm imagining what the next 10 years should bring. Why am I still working on isoHunt? To quote Breaking Bad, am I "in the empire business", subverting the establishment? No, we are in the culture business. Culture, distilled into digital files, shared by people, on the Internet. In the culture business, there are creators, and there are consumers. In this age of "broadcasting yourself", we are often both creators as well as consumers. And in my ideal world, consumers will share what they want, freely, and creators will be promoted accordingly and compensated fairly. Minimal friction, and minimal middlemen in the way who doesn't help in connecting consumers directly with creators.

I've fought Hollywood's lawsuit for almost 7 years now, it's so ancient it's almost not even worth mentioning. Same goes with CRIA's lawsuit. I'm tired of this squabble and they trying to make me and isoHunt another scapegoat in their crusade of no historic meaning. The only way to move forward is together, with the creators. For the next 10 years, I'm imagining a reboot of isoHunt. From a mostly passive search engine, to a new system where you the consumer can be active participants in bringing creators on board, and you can frictionlessly contribute to the creators. I'm calling this isoHunt Spotlight for now, until we think of a better name. And this will be a new endeavour, a complement to isoHunt the search engine which will continue its mission of indexing any and all torrent links. What is Spotlight exactly? Think Kickstarter, Netflix, Spotify, Gamefly, Kindle Owners' Lending Library rolled into one, with global licensing from day one that only makes sense for the Internet. We are still in the planning stages of this thing, so we can use your thought and help in making this happen. If we can make such a system of frictionless funding, creating, consuming and sharing happen like I'm imagining, it's going to be beautiful. To get there, we’ll need to bring a lot more creators on board, together.

Oh, and we just passed half a million fans on our Facebook page. Along with the millions of users who have frequented isoHunt the last 10 years, thanks for your support! Cheers to the next 10.

Google: Censorship and Antitrust bully. We need a protest.
Posted by IH on Aug. 10
On the news that Google announcing they will downrank sites "with too many valid DMCA takedown notices". Since isoHunt is currently listed as #3 of most noticed sites, that is likely to happen to to us.

But let's get it out of the way that we are crying foul just because we are scared of losing traffic. About 75% of all our traffic are direct traffic, with 21% coming from Google searches (and much of that being searches on "isohunt" and ""). So even if Google takes isoHunt entirely out of their index, we'll survive. Unless Google start censoring isoHunt at the Chrome browser level, but let's not give them any ideas.

What I want to bring to attention about this search algorithm change is Google is no longer the search engine upstart they used to be (for a while now). As Search Engine Land says, Google is now a content distribution company. What's missing on Google's DMCA notices report? Youtube. The by far largest video content website in the world ought to have very high volume of DMCA notices, if not the most, and it's inconspicuously missing from the list. To downrank and censor any website that's not Google's that receives a high number of DMCA notices? Sounds exactly like antitrust to me.

Now, on what is "valid" DMCA notices to warrant Google labeling a site as pirate? Google Legal has already labelled us a "pirate" service before, to prop themselves up as "legit". That is their opinion. What is really wrong with downranking/censoring websites based on "valid" DMCA notices however is that what's valid is simply notices that has not been countered. With millions of links subject to notices, we never bothered countering any DMCA notices on Google (not to mention Google only recently put up their transparency report so there hasn't even been an easy way to review what's been noticed per domain). That does not mean all links under which Google has filtered by notices are valid, just because we haven't countered them. Not any more valid than how Youtube took down NASA's Mars video just because a broadcaster said so. Is what Google/Youtube routinely call valid takedowns valid, like many others before? You tell me. (although to Google's credit, a video of a Canadian urinating on his passport is too good to takedown, unlike a video from Mars)

To complicate matters, we are also a search engine, like Google, not just a regular website. We have our DMCA policy and takedown process, like Google. (ours was electronic by email years ago I might add, when Google was still requiring snail mail) And contrary to popular beliefs, we have plenty of torrent links to non-copyright infringing content, and we'll be adding 1.4M more from the Internet Archive soon. Is it right for Google to downrank or outright censor torrent links to legit, non-infringing content on (or any other site), just because copyright holders have spammed a million "valid" DMCA notices on our other pages to Google that hasn't been countered? Censorship will never be easier, by DMCA spam.

The media conglomerates failed to pass SOPA, now they are getting in bed with Youtube at the public's expense. I'd point you to Google alternatives like DuckDuckGo (which respects your privacy a lot more to boot), or heck, bing but since everyone google, that's unlikely to go far in practice. While Google already started down this path of censorship with autocorrect before, search ranking based on mere DMCA notices is a line that should not be crossed.

We need a protest against Google censorship and antitrust.

With constitutional freedoms at stake, isoHunt files plead
Posted by IH on Mar. 3
Freedom of expression on the Internet is under attack. From SOPA in the US, ACTA internationally, and C-11 in Canada, the same theme is apparent on the agenda of copyright industry groups: instead of dealing with actual copyright violators, they want to shut down technologies and internet services that they say will be used by violators. It’s the same alarmist approach that goes back to the VCR and the radio. As the Internet emerges as the de-facto medium of communication, sharing and expression, the control over distribution by copyright industries is threatened. In turn, the constitutional freedom of expression of Canadians and all participants on the Internet is threatened.

Since SOPA, a new term has been coined on this age: the War on Piracy. What it really is is a War on the Internet. In our latest response to CRIA filed in Court, we ask the Supreme Court of BC to adjudicate this crucial issue of balance between the constitutional rights of people on the Internet to communicate, share and search, versus the rights of copyright industries to limit such rights in the corporate interest of protecting and extending copyright. isoHunt urges the court to examine this issue carefully, for the sake of innovations on the Internet, free exchange of culture, and fundamental constitutional freedoms.

Here is an electronic copy of our pleading, filed at the Supreme Court of BC, Canada. The Attorney General has been put on notice of constitutional issues raised.

- (May 5, 2012) with our comment

isoHunt Inc. is not affiliated with this website.