In a recent copyright infringement case filed by an adult film studio, the judge has made a ruling that will probably affect many lawsuits in which several defendants are accused of illegally downloading content. Judge Gary Brown has ruled that a simple IP address can’t be associated with a single person.
The recent mass lawsuits against individuals who were suspected of committing copyright infringement were basically the same. The rights holder would record the IP addresses of those who downloaded their property, after which he would try to obtain a court order to force ISPs to reveal the identities that were hiding behind it.
Of course, with the increase in popularity of Wi-Fi routers, the IP the person was associated with in many cases didn’t match the actual culprit.
Recent studies have shown that many Wi-Fi routers are not secured, and even if they are, there are always tricks
that can be utilized to connect to them. Not to mention the fact that in a household several people may be using the same Internet connection, including visitors.
According to TorrentFreak
, New York Magistrate Judge Gary Brown is well aware of these factors so he made a few recommendations, even advising other judges to dismiss future cases that are based solely on IP addresses.
“Although the complaints state that IP addresses are assigned to ‘devices’ and thus by discovering the individual associated with that IP address will reveal ‘defendants’ true identity,’ this is unlikely to be the case,” he explained.
Other judges seem to agree with him. The one that handled the case filed by SBO Pictures against 3036 Internet users noted:
By defining Doe Defendants as ISP subscribers who were assigned certain IP addresses, instead of the actual Internet users who allegedly engaged in infringing activity, Plaintiff’s sought-after discovery has the potential to draw numerous innocent internet users into the litigation, placing a burden upon them that weighs against allowing the discovery as designed.
Hopefully, this decision will put an end to all the abuse that has taken place recently, with copyright trolls and blackmailers trying to take advantage of this identification system.