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Crime The Internet

Troll Complaint Dismissed; Subscriber Not Necessarily Infringer 189

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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  • On Appeal (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gpmanrpi ( 548447 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:47PM (#42971825)
    This needs to be held up on appeal to the 9th Circuit Court, and we can celebrate. Otherwise this is a smart District Court Judge's ruling that is only persuasive in other cases.
  • More evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @04:57PM (#42971953) Homepage

    Is this really something to cheer about? Rah rah yay evil copyright trolls defeated! But wait... is this really fair?

    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? The only way I can think of to tie an IP address download to an individual would be to look at the hard drive of the computer to determine if the file was ever there.

    The judge also points out that the owner of the wireless network is under no legal obligation to protect their wireless network from someone else using it. So it upholds the wireless network claim, although it wasn't used in this decision.

    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.

    Last note:
    The judge granted the motion on one of three counts brought against the individual. They can refile on the first two counts if they can find a way to identify the individual, not just the IP address.

  • by Spiridios ( 2406474 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:09PM (#42972083) Journal

    Want a simple correlation? If you force gun owners to register their purchase, and then hold the registered owner responsible for any crimes committed with that gun. Bring that up in a trial and then get your popcorn as your local politician tries to explain his loyalty to both sides.

    A single IP can be used by many people at the same time. Some of them can even be out of sight of each other. This doesn't hold true for guns.

    With Carrier-grade NAT, a whole lot of people may be using the same IP address at the same time, and they wouldn't even have to be in the same state...

  • Re:More evidence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by taucross ( 1330311 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:19PM (#42972223)
    Fairness happens through a strict audit chain of deductive evidence. An IP address is not a way of identifying criminal liability. This is a fact, no matter how unfair it may seem. It can identify a person, yes; the account holder. But it does not then follow that the account holder is culpable. Do you think it is better to convict an innocent person, or to let a guilty person go free? The question is deeply philosophical and most tantalising.
  • IP Address, Car... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wolfling1 ( 1808594 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @05:49PM (#42972675) Journal
    If you substitute the word 'Car' for the words 'IP Address', the ruling reads:

    'just because a CAR is registered to an individual does not mean that he or she is guilty of infringement when that CAR is used to commit infringing activity.'

    A whole bunch of 'speed camera law' is in exact opposition to this ruling.

    I think that the ruling is positive and constructive - but I also think that it will be overruled at a higher level for the exact same reasons that the speed camera law is in place.
  • by ThomasBHardy ( 827616 ) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @06:05PM (#42972891)
    I have two wifi points. One permits access to my network and is highly secured, encrypted, mac filtered, yada yada yada The other is an unencrypted point that only has access to the internet for guests to use and no internal network access. I give the trivial password to anyone who visits so they can connect their phones, laptops, tablets etc to it. The **AA can be as surprised as they like, I'm not bound by their concept of how wi-fi should be configured.
  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Friday February 22, 2013 @12:07AM (#42975817) Homepage

    The only way that a Plaintiff could obtain the evidence needed is with a subpoena. The judge dismissed the case before allowing any subpoenas to occur.

    No, the judge forbade them from going on a fishing expedition to try to make their case based on nothing other than an IP address.

    Lack of evidence isn't a basis to get a subpoena to gather more evidence. It means you lack evidence.

    Therefore the judge forbade the Plantiff from doing any useful investigation.

    No, the judge correctly identified that they haven't done any useful investigation, and that they need something more substantial to file a lawsuit.

    Or do you think that if I loudly accused you of embezzling money you should be immediately arrested and your stuff searched to provide evidence that what I said is true? I suspect you'd demand that I show evidence first. These guys are asking to be provided with evidence for their accusations, but haven't provided enough to support the claim.

    The judge hasn't hampered the case of the plaintiff, he's told them they haven't established one with anything they can link to the named individual. It actually puts the burden of proof on them, which is the way it should be.

Thufir's a Harkonnen now.