Courts quash copyright trolls; recognize IP address is not a person

Justice finally served when judges can spell 'Internet,' tell assets from IP addresses

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This letter from an attorney for Io Group, Inc./Titan Media is typical of the genre. It threatens an unnamed victim with prosecution for being a porn pirate unless he/she pays a settlement fee of at least $3,375.

It also reads more like a spam scam than legitimate correspondence about a legitimate complaint. ("If you would like to take advantage of this early settlement opportunity, enter the following url into your Internet browser…" the pitch reads.)

Using IP addresses as the only real evidence, but demanding full right of discovery and supbpoena over people with a very good chance of being completely innocent is not only inherently imprecise, it "has the potential to draw numerous innocent Internet users into the litigation, placing a burden upon them that weighs against allowing the discovery as designed," Brown ruled.

That's exactly what has happened, according to the EFF, which has opposed the practice in public protests and court filings.

"It’s a business model — a kind of mass shakedown," according to EFF attorney Mitch Stoltz, as quoted in Time. "The only way it is profitable for these lawyers is if they get a bunch of small settlements from a lot of people without having to spend a lot of time in court dealing with the merits of particular cases."

The RIAA, which pioneered the aggressive pursuit of alleged content pirates and extortion of settlements from them, stopped its "so-called 'sue-them-all' campaign" within the U.S., it has continued bullying P2P networks and individuals in other countries, according to TorrentFreak.

Though strong, definite rulings in two federal and one state court should remove the assumptions under which IP-only accusations are made, other courts have to support those rulings with similar decisions of their own, Stoltz said.

Otherwise it would be up to each court and each judge to decide whether to quash accusations that have tremendous potential to be wrong and to result in disastrously expensive litigation for wrongly accused private citizens.

If they do it would send copyright trolls back to their caves until they figure out how to make accusations based on genuine evidence, not a single address that could be spoofed, misappropriated, misidentified or simply made up.

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