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Judge: An IP-Address Doesn't Identify a Person (or BitTorrent Pirate)
A landmark ruling in one of the many mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the US has delivered a severe blow to a thus far lucrative business. Among other things, New York Judge Gary Brown explains in great detail why an IP-address is not sufficient evidence to identify copyright infringers. According to the Judge this lack of specific evidence means that many alleged BitTorrent pirates have been wrongfully accused by copyright holders.
Mass-BitTorrent lawsuits have been dragging on for more than two years in the US, involving more than a quarter million alleged downloaders.
The copyright holders who start these cases generally provide nothing more than an IP-address as evidence. They then ask the courts to grant a subpoena, allowing them to ask Internet providers for the personal details of the alleged offenders. The problem, however, is that the person listed as the account holder is often not the person who downloaded the infringing material. Or put differently; an IP-address is not a person.