A Florida Judge Rules an IP Address Isn’t a Person & Can’t Identify a Pirate

pirateA judge in Florida has delivered a blow to piracy lawsuits when she threw out a case filed by Malibu Media, an Adult film company, this week. As has been a pretty common practice, Malibu filed a bulk lawsuit listing IP addresses. The hopes is that the court would then subpoena the cable operator (Comcast in this case) to connect the dots and turn over the actual individuals. In many cases in the past, the person accused is not actually the offender. It seems some judges are taking that fact to note.

US District Judge Ursula Ungaro tossed the lawsuit because:

[t]here is nothing that links the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing Plaintiff’s videos and establishing whether that person lives in this district.

Basically the question is, without knowing who it is, how do you know if this is the right venue for the case?

Malibu lawyer Keith Lipscomb attempted to argued they hired an investigator who used a geolocation that:

…has always been 100 percent accurate when traced to the Southern District of Florida.

By directing its lawsuits at IP addresses from Comcast Cable, Plaintiff knows that almost always the IP address will trace to a residential address.

Ungaro rejected Malibu’s argument and dismissed and closed the case, she felt the evidence didn’t prove the plaintiffs could prove the actual individual for the lawsuit.

Plaintiff has shown that the geolocation software can provide a location for an infringing IP address; however, Plaintiff has not shown how this geolocation software can establish the identity of the Defendant

There is nothing that links the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing Plaintiff’s videos, and establishing whether that person lives in this district.

Ungaro also insisted that Malibu justify two other lawsuits against users identified only by IP addresses.

This ruling isn’t a first and follows a decision by a New York judge in the case K-Beech v. John Does in 2012. That judge said the plaintiff needed specific users. This along with those previous cases give individuals ammo to fight back against blanket lawsuits.

(via Torrent Freak)