The kingdom has won this battle...

You Win, Hollywood: Vancouver’s Gary Fung forced to shut down Isohunt

Fung will pay a $110-million fine to the Motion Picture Association of America, but what does this say about the future of downloading?

Not with a bang, but a diplomatic whimper.

Vancouver whiz Gary Fung – whose “baby” is the immensely popular media downloading, sharing site Isohunt – was forced to eventually close down operations on Friday, and pay a fine of $110 million after losing a legal battle with the Motion Picture Association of America.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful,” Fung wrote on his blog. “Ten-and-a-half 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.”

Isohunt links to 13.7 million active BitTorrent files – movies, TV shows, and music – and 51 million users. It is ranked 423rd in worldwide web traffic, and 167th in Canada.

Clearly, the site is popular. Obviously, torrents and shared files (stolen, depending on who you talk to) are the norm – an expectation – from users. Are Fung’s 51 million users as guilty as he is? Is he simply the fall guy, and shouldn’t Hollywood be encouraging competition in the way it has always claimed to?

It would seem, based on the MPAA’s victim-toned statement – which called Friday’s final call “a major step forward in realizing the enormous potential of the Internet as a platform for legitimate commerce and innovation” – that it’s only unfair when you’re the one losing.

According to Vince Gilligan, the Breaking Bad show-runner who just completed one of the most critically acclaimed and popular dramas in TV history, piracy helped his show gain the audience it came to serve.

Torrent sites and downloads “led to a lot of people watching the series who otherwise would not have,” Gilligan said on Friday (according to TheWrap.com).

“The downside is a lot of folks who worked on the show would have made more money, myself included, if all those downloads had been legal.”

The trick, as it was when Napster shut down a decade ago, is for the industry to wake itself up in time to right the ship.

Does the MPAA really expect people to stop downloading content if it’s available to them? Does it really think it knows what 51 million people want better than Gary Fung does?

For an organization like the MPAA – which represents Walt Disney Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, Universal City Studios and Warner Bros. – they may wake up one day to find they “would have made more money” (using Gilligan’s own words) if they had embraced and incorporated the Internet in time.

The MPAA first launched its suit against Fung and Isohunt in 2006. Seven years ago. That’s almost as long as an Oliver Stone movie.

Nobody is taking these threats seriously. Nobody is scared. If you’re one of 51 million users sharing 13.7 million files, wouldn’t you feel like you’re in the majority?

Forget shutting Isohunt down… the real question is, why didn’t the MPAA buy it from him? Why didn’t Disney, or Universal, or Warner Brothers?

This guy has guaranteed your industry 51 million active viewers, readers, and porn-watchers. He’s a Vancouver man-kid whose audience is one-and-a-half times the size of Canada. Why isn’t he working for you?

Call Friday’s decision a milestone if you will, but don’t deny the inevitable.

Hollywood will win its battles but, if it continues to shuck off the future, it will lose the war.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

2020 Budget: ICBC shortfall continues ahead of new rate-reduction plan

ICBC operating with $91-million deficit for 2019-2020 fiscal year

Victoria police ask victims of human trafficking to come forward in light of recent arrests

Four people from Vancouver Island were arrested in Saskatchewan on Jan. 28

Forest industry supporters and convoy arrive at B.C. legislature

Rally delivers petition in favour of ‘working forests’

Victoria budtenders become first private cannabis workers to unionize in Canada

Two of seven Clarity Cannabis storefronts vote to join UFCW 1518 union

Updated: Sightseeing airplane crashes in Saanich farm

Two sent to hospital with minor injuries after Cessna 172 crash at 8:55 a.m.

VIDEO: Ottawa wants quick, peaceful resolution to pipeline protests, Trudeau says

The protests have manifested themselves as blockades on different rail lines across the country

Budget 2020: B.C. adds tax to sweet drinks and sodas

All soda, vending machine drinks will be subject to higher PST

Budget 2020: B.C. unveils new grant for students, phases out debt-relief program

For the first time, diploma, certificate students qualify for yearly post-secondary grant

Budget 2020: B.C. NDP taps top tax bracket for more revenue

Minimum wage set to pass $15 an hour by 2021

Budget 2020: Not much new for B.C.’s struggling forest industry

Focus on wood waste utilization, efficiency, ministry budget cut

Skull reconstruction gives new insight into unknown man found in B.C. cemetery

RCMP released a 3-D skull reconstruction of a man who was found dead on July 2, 1998

Ten poisoned eagles rushed to veterinary hospital in Nanaimo

Eagles stricken after eating flesh of euthanized animal at Nanaimo Regional Landfill

Trudeau says Wet’suwet’en crisis, rail blockades a critical moment for country

First Nations leaders suggest it may be time to peacefully end the blockades

Kids exposed to household cleaners as newborns more likely to get asthma: B.C. study

Air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, antimicrobial hand sanitizers and oven cleaners were the worst culprits

Most Read