Thursday, May 10, 2007

Interview with Gary Fung - Creator and Owner of

As part of my final project for our course I interviewed a series of interesting people to find out their thoughts on peer-to-peer networks and file sharing. My first interview was with Gary Fung, owner and administrator of

Here is the transcript of our interview.


Founded in 2003, isoHunt is a BitTorent search engine currently ranked at 330 by’s web-traffic statistics. In February of 2006 isoHunt because the target of legal proceedings by the MPAA. Gary Fung is the creator and owner of

Allen: What is the daily routine like for you and your staff? With a site as massive as isoHunt I would imagine you have a lot of things to take care of a regular basis.

Gary: Making sure servers haven't vanished. Maintainence on the search index. Handle requests from copyright owners. Advertising sales. Legal issues. When there's time left, R&D on web development.

Allen: Can you describe what the current situation with the MPAA suit against your site?

Gary: My depositions and other staff will be in May next month. Summary judgment by August and trial on September. I'm hoping to arrange a settlement meeting with the MPAA before August. Because as big as the MPAA conglomorates are, they must realize that they can't make everyone on the internet and their potential customers criminals. I would like to negotiate a middle ground for that, between media production, distribution and consumption.

If the court allows, I'd like to start blogging our case beginning with recordings of our depositions. I believe transparency into our case would be useful for our site visitors and the general public.

Allen: Why is operating your project worth the hassle of dealing with DMCA take-down notices, ISP suspensions, and lawsuits in general? Is it the money? The community? Something else?

Gary: The community, the money, and most importantly, developing technologies for sharing is something I find most interesting and fulfilling.

Allen: You continue to honor take-down requests in DMCA fashion even though your servers are located in Canada. Why is that?

Gary: Our copyright policy based on the DMCA has served us and copyright owners who worked with us well (except some oddballs like the MPAA), so I don't see a reason to change it. If a copyright owner sees links to his material on P2P networks that he doesn't want to see, I believe it's fair to offer him discourse and process for taking down those links.

Allen: Obviously, the decision as to what to download is entirely up to those visiting your site. Ideally speaking, how is it that you want visitors to use isoHunt? That is, does it matter to you whether users are downloading illegal or freely distributable content?

Gary: We develop a tool for accessing BitTorrent and P2P resources, and shape that tool to both the wishes of content owners and consumers from the technological and filtering perspectives. For example, making search faster, more relevant, provide more useful and accurate statistics, while the open nature of our search engine means copyright owners can relatively easily send us lists of links for verification and takedown. RSS feeds for every search query also help in that process, for both content owners and consumers alike. How that content is distributed and consumed is up to the market to decide, although I try to nudge that market in directions that would keep most parties happy.

Allen: What sort of progress (both technical and non-technical) do you expect to see in torrent search engines and torrent clients in the future? Is there anything in particular that you would _like_ to see?

Gary: Trackers themselves should become more distributed, so operation of a tracker is no longer a technical or operational burden for a content distributor. Fakes and spams of garbage files are also an increasing problem polluting BitTorrent networks, a collaborative effort between site and tracker operators against them would be useful.

Allen: If you were in the RIAA or MPAA shoes how would _you_ handle the situation with regard to peer-to-peer technologies and torrent search engines? In other words, what should these organizations be doing differently to protect their interests?

Gary: I would work with technologists in the P2P markets towards two things. One, collaborate on what's the most efficient way to streamline the request, verify and takedown process in curtailing links to unauthorized P2P distribution of my content. Two, distribute my content directly on P2P. Business models can include ads in TV episode downloads, pay to download higher quality encodes, faster transfers and no ads, use DRM for a rental and try before you buy model. With new technologies, there needs to be new business models around them. Fighting new technologies to make old models valid is not the way move forward.

Allen: Lastly, in terms of searching power and content there's no question that isoHunt roXX0rz it hardcore prono style, but the site does seem to be lacking a bit in aesthetics. Are there any plans to change the site's design anytime soon?

Gary: Ask Google the same question. Answer is no. I like it simple and efficient ;)

Although new features are coming that will require interface changes.


Torrent said...

Very interesting interview !

If you plan to make other interviews of people related to P2P, Bittorrent and Community, feel free to contact me !

I am SUMO, webmaster of, and we have just partnered with Filesoup to mark the re-invention of an all-in-one Bittorrent Community incorporating: Indexer - Tracker - Search Engine - Forum

FS and ST are aiming to make P2P go beyond just a peer-to-peer (aka computer-to-computer) relationship, we're developing a people-to-people relationship. With 170,000+ Community members and 300,000+ indexed torrents, our combined resources will help make our Community really grow fast.

Our goal is to be the largest Bittorrent Community on the web!

Filesoup: www·filesoup·co·uk
SUMOTorrent: www·sumotorrent·com

Tony said...

" Fighting new technologies to make old models valid is not the way move forward."

Very wise words indeed.

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