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Crime The Internet

Troll Complaint Dismissed; Subscriber Not Necessarily Infringer 189

Posted by timothy
from the common-sense-sneaks-in dept.
NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The courts are finally starting to get it, that the subscriber to an internet access account which has been used for a copyright infringement is not necessarily the infringer. In AF Holdings v. Rogers, a case in the Southern District of California, the Chief Judge of the Court has granted a motion to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a claim where the only evidence the plaintiff has against defendant is that defendant appears to have been the subscriber to the internet access account in question. In his 7-page opinion (PDF), Chief Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz noted that 'just because an IP address is registered to an individual does not mean that he or she is guilty of infringement when that IP address is used to commit infringing activity.'"
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Troll Complaint Dismissed; Subscriber Not Necessarily Infringer

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  • Re:More evidence (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HaZardman27 (1521119) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:01PM (#42972011)

    Doesn't that make it pretty much impossible to file a copyright infringement claim against someone for downloading a file?

    Oh gosh, we can only hope.

  • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:06PM (#42972057) Homepage Journal

    If he is significantly rural, he might not be running a wifi password at all. My brother's wifi is barely accessible outside of his house, let alone the .75 miles between his house and the nearest public road, so he does not bother with it.

    In comparison, I keep a strong wifi password, as I just found out that my wifi is line-of-sight accessible from the picnic pavilion in the park across the street (literally line of sight, the router is in the living room with only a few panes of glass between).

  • Re:More evidence (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:10PM (#42972107) Homepage

    The judge's ruling states that an IP address isn't sufficient information to bring a claim, and that discovery is not permitted. Doesn't that make it pretty much impossible to file a copyright infringement claim against someone for downloading a file?

    It needs to be made more difficult, and there needs to be some burden of proof shifted to the accuser.

    So many of these they seem to send the "you've been caught downloading, pay us this much money and this goes away" extortion letters, or they file the John Doe lawsuits to get the subscribers names, and then sue them that way. They just go with presumed guilt, and make it impossible for someone to defend themselves without bankrupting themselves.

    I am no fan of the copyright trolls, but I don't think making it completely impossible to track down copyright infringement cases is fair either.

    It doesn't need to be completely impossible ... but there does need to be some actual evidence beyond "I have your IP address, therefore it was you" stuff they do now. They've been trending too much to the point where they can claim anything with no real evidence, and the courts follow along.

  • Re:This is big (Score:4, Interesting)

    by QuasiSteve (2042606) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:07PM (#42972917)

    This ruling is not just huge - if upheld all the way, this could be the death knell for any hope of enforcing copyrights where it comes to individual users/distributors as long as the internet or structures like it (a potentially shared resource as the only identifying element) is involved.

    This is basically me, downloading all of the movies currently on offer on TPB, putting them on a server, and seeding them for as long as that system will last, sharing these movies with hundreds of thousands of people during the course of its operation, with there being nothing for the copyright holders to even start forming litigation around short of a John Doe; which doesn't get them very far if a judge is just going to say "who is John Doe?" and the answer is "we don't know, that's why it's a John Doe."

    They can write to my ISP, and even my ISP would have to concede that while the complaining party may very well have an IP address and a timestamp, and my ISP may very know which account that is assigned to, due to the fact that even my ISP doesn't know who - in terms of a legal entity - actually used the account.

    At worst, my ISP has a clause saying that the account may be closed if they have a reasonable suspicion that I am indeed performing the above - but they'll likely still try to shy away from doing so.

    The question is, how is this going to be countered? If there's one thing we've learned over time it's that the copyright holders will not just let the inevitable come easy.

    Will laws be constructed, or (re)interpreted, such that the account holder can be held legally accountable for that which is done through the account? Will only authorized modems be allowed on ISP networks with users wishing to use these modems required to use a token that identifies the person per-packet up to the ISP and make them legally responsible to take great care that this token remains only with them? If this, will lobby groups (and I'm not just thinking of 'big content' here) then push to have this per-packet identification be sent out across all of the internet so that infringement of all sorts can be dealt with directly?

    Yes, this is a victory on many levels for the great majority of internet users (albeit just a little more for 'pirates' who stand to benefit the most). Just don't be surprised if it's going to get worse long before it's going to get better.

    That said, there's that 'if' at the top of my comment. That's a big 'if'.

    On a side note: Good to see you again, NYCL - it's been a while.

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