A small Internet search engine company has brought a case against the Canadian Recording Industry Association that could drastically change the way files are shared on the Internet.

In fact, the suit by ISOHunt Web Technologies Inc. could make search engines like Google and Yahoo! illegal, due to the way they can be used to access copyright-protected content online.

The suit, which is before the B.C. Supreme Court, is questioning whether search engine companies are liable for the actions of users who share pirated content online.

The court must decide whether ISOHunt, by allowing users to find pirated copies of films or CDs, is in violation of Canadian copyright laws.

In a statement on its website, ISOHunt president Gary Fung explained that the company decided to launch its own suit after numerous legal threats from the CRIA.

He explained that ISOHunt is a search engine for BitTorrent sites and links posted by users, but that it doesn't store any of the content, nor work directly with those sharing the files.

"None of the pieces of files exchanged over BitTorrent pass through our servers," Fung's statement says.

He explains that the files are exchanged over external person-to-person networks and that ISOHunt serves cached links to those files.

"Some of these files maybe copyright infringing, some aren't."

Last week in court, ISOHunt's lawyer demonstrated to the judge that Google can be used to find all kinds of legally questionable files that can also be found through ISOHunt.

He argued that the only difference is that ISOHunt is used specifically to find BitTorrent files, while Google searches for all file types.

Fung's statement said he does not wish for his websites or search engines to infringe others' rights.

The CRIA had argued that the petition by ISOHunt should be converted to a full court case. The court agreed last week, and both sides are now getting ready for a long court battle.

"It's disappointing to see CRIA wanting to unnecessarily complicate our well defined petition in attempt to bog us down with time and money through messy discovery and in the process the court's time too," Fung wrote on the site.

ISOHunt is also embroiled in a legal dispute in the U.S. against the Motion Picture Association of America.

Court proceedings there have been underway for more than a year.