The MPAA, RIAA and other copyright holding companies have long used Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to identify users for their lawsuits. They’ll find that people at various IP addresses have used BitTorrent or some other peer-to-peer (P2P) service seem to have downloaded copyrighted video or music and then sic their lawyer attack dogs on them. They may not be so quick to unleash the hounds though after they read U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Gary R. Brown’s Order & Report & Recommendation (ORR).
As first reported by Fight Copyright Trolls, a legal news and opinion blog that follows Internet copyright issues Judge Brown wrote that accusing someone of stealing copyrighted material purely on the basis of an IP address is simply wrong. Brown noted that it “is no more likely that the subscriber to an IP address carried out a particular computer function — here the purported illegal downloading of a single pornographic film — than to say an individual who pays the telephone bill made a specific telephone call.”
He continued, “[M]ost, if not all, of the IP addresses will actually reflect a wireless router or other networking device, meaning that while the ISPs will provide the name of its subscriber, the alleged infringer could be the subscriber, a member of his or her family, an employee, invitee, neighbor or interloper.”