What Was Isohunt?

Isohunt was a BitTorrent search site that was shut down as of October 2013 following a court settlement. More torrent search engine information is available here: The Top 15 Torrent Search Engines.

Isohunt and Copyright Law

Isohunt didn't directly host BitTorrent files; instead, Isohunt helped users search for these files by "crawling" several different torrent sites. Isohunt would return links to sites where the torrent files could be found.

This is a gray area in the law. 

Isohunt had more than its share of legal troubles, including multiple prosecutions for copyright infringement. The site was also ruled against by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America), alleging that the site was an illegal shortcut to pirated movies, TV shows, and video games, which are trademarked by their respective organizations.

However, because Isohunt does not provide anything but links to these files, the search site stayed afloat for a time. Searching Isohunt for files using copyrighted phrases as keywords in search strings was perfectly legal; however, clicking on those links and using them to download copyrighted files is frowned upon as stated explicitly in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

As mentioned, Isohunt finally shut down in October 2013, but there are many torrent search engines and torrent sites that continue to face legal challenges as laws change and evolve, so this is an area that is still contentious

What Isohunt Offered

The Isohunt homepage was quite streamlined. At the top of the page was the main file search query box that offered some sophisticated search options, including Boolean search. If you searched for BitTorrents on Isohunt, you were searching for links to torrent files found elsewhere on the web.

In order to download something with BitTorrent, you must have a torrent file. This torrent file contains a location that informs the BitTorrent client where to go to find the tracker, website, or search engine that manages the uploading and downloading of the torrent file(s). A good torrent client will manage this entire process for you seamlessly. The primary source of Isohunt's offerings included links to torrent files.

Isohunt Search Options

Isohunt offered several features that made this torrent search engine easy to use and intuitive even for the beginner. These included:

  • Boolean operators: Isohunt gave searchers the ability to use simple Boolean search operators (-, |, OR, etc.), wildcards (*, ?), and search with quotation marks.
  • Site stats: Users could view the latest BitTorrent sites indexed by Isohunt, as well as how many torrents, trackers, seeds, and leechers were currently being tracked via each site.
  • Tools and widgets: Isohunt offered several different widgets and toolbars, including a free browser toolbar, top searches, buttons, and Firefox plugins.
  • Community: One of the most attractive features of Isohunt was its extremely active member community. Forum topics ranged from news to debates to chats about the latest bittorrent technology.
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