This week isoHunt announced its shutdown as part of a $110 million settlement with the MPAA. The decision is the end of an era for a BitTorrent icon that served millions of people for more than a decade. Recognizing this historical value, a group of rogue archivists have taken it upon themselves to backup all isoHunt data before the site vanishes. With roughly three terabytes of data, ArchiveTeam’s #isoprey project is one of the largest web-preservation operations in history.
IsoHunt consists of 13,773,786 torrents linking to 286 million files which are good for a total 17,390.44 terabytes of data. Unfortunately, all of the site’s metadata may soon disappear.
The homepage of the site was replaced with a post written by Fung titled “Initiating Self Destruct”, with Fung explaining that “We are shutting down isoHunt services a little early. I’m told there was this Internet archival team that wants to make historical copy of our .torrent files.”
Fung then posted a link to a video titled “Terminator Salvation – Newly Released Trailer” although users who clicked the link found themselves listening to Rick Astley’s 1987 hit ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’.
Isohunt has been tangling with the film industry since 2006, after the MPAA alleged it was encouraging copyright infringement on a massive scale. While Isohunt served links to torrents of songs, software, and films, Fung argued that he was protected by the DMCA’s safe harbor policy, which limits internet services’ liability for what passes through their networks. The court, however, didn’t agree. It determined that Fung had been well aware of piracy on his network and done nothing to prevent it, actively asking for people to upload torrents of specific films and helping people find copyrighted content.
While isoHunt.com will soon be gone, the site’s torrents and other metadata will be preserved if it’s up to the ArchiveTeam. In an attempt to save isoHunt’s extensive collection of torrent files, a group of “rogue archivists” has been working around the clock to save all data for future generations.
“The settlement took everyone by surprise, and appeared to come out of nowhere. IsoHunt is shutting down in less than three days, and the speedy massacre of such a significant volume of metadata is a tragedy,” ArchiveTeam’s ‘lysobit’ informs TorrentFreak.
TorrentFreak says “Torrent search engine isoHunt has prematurely and permanently shutdown today. To prevent the ArchiveTeam from making a full backup of the site, isoHunt decided to close its doors two days earlier than planned. The site’s founder says that he is honored by the backup initiative, but believes that there are plenty of copies of isoHunt’s torrents floating around on the web already.”
“This is it. We are shutting down isoHunt services a little early,” Fung wrote.
IsoHunt’s owner explained that the early exit was a direct response to ArchiveTeam’s backup attempt, but it’s unclear if it was his own decision or whether the MPAA’s lawyers pushed for it.
“[The] truth is about 95% of those .torrent files can be found off Google regardless and mostly have been indexed from other BitTorrent sites in the first place,” said Mr Fung in a statement from IsoHunt.
“I’m told there was this Internet archival team that wants to make historical copy of our .torrent files, I’m honored that people think our site is worthy of historical preservation, but the truth is about 95% of those .torrent files can be found off Google regardless and mostly have been indexed from other BitTorrent sites in the first place,” Fung notes.