Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Troll Complaint Dismissed; Subscriber Not Necessarily Infringer

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the common-sense-sneaks-in dept.

Crime 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.'"

cancel ×

189 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Yeah! (1)

DarthBling (1733038) | about a year and a half ago | (#42971789)

Great news!

If these cases involved guns.... (-1, Offtopic)

Kwirl (877607) | about a year and a half ago | (#42971807)

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.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year and a half ago | (#42971951)

How many gun owners let other people use their guns?

I have let my father and brother use my guns. That is it. The entire times they were in my presence. Wifi I have let everyone who visits my house use.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

medcalf (68293) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972005)

By analogy, I (or more aptly, the *AA) could express astonishment that you give out your wifi password to everyone who visits your house. I don't see that being a remotely useful argument.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (3, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972057)

If he is significantly rural, he might not be running a wifi password at all. My brother's wifi is barely accessible outside of his house, let alone the .75 miles between his house and the nearest public road, so he does not bother with it.

In comparison, I keep a strong wifi password, as I just found out that my wifi is line-of-sight accessible from the picnic pavilion in the park across the street (literally line of sight, the router is in the living room with only a few panes of glass between).

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42973481)

In comparison, I keep a strong wifi password, as I just found out that my wifi is line-of-sight accessible from the picnic pavilion in the park across the street (literally line of sight, the router is in the living room with only a few panes of glass between).

Get some ceramic window film installed. It'll increase your privacy and reduce your heating costs. On the downside, it'll be a bit of a problem if you use your wireless in your yard, but that sacrifice may be worth it.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (4, Insightful)

ThomasBHardy (827616) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972023)

Guns can be stolen, or even "borrowed" without your knowledge or consent.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972067)

it's still a valid point unless you are supervising them with the weapon and have a way to prevent them from doing anything illegal with them. you make the same assumption with letting someone use your firearm that you do letting someone use your wifi: they will use good judgement and obey the law. The consequences of misusing a firearm vs. misusing an IP address are usually radically different, but still a valid comparison. Also, people can steal your guns, just like people can leech off other people's wifi. (Before you say "my wifi is secured", etc. bear in mind just how much unsecured wifi there is out there.)

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972445)

Except a gun isn't wifi. Seriously, it's not a valid point. Wifi allows you to... download pirated content. Guns allow you to perform numerous highly illegal activities, as well as potentially shooting yourself if someone's really just handing their gun out to visitors.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (2)

thunderclap (972782) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972715)

Actually it is valid. Wifi can hacked into and used without permission to download copyright protected content (you can't pirate content as Piracy involves ships and water. No matter how much mainstream media wants you to believe you can) That is what amusing me about your point. Guns can indeed allow engagement highly illegal activities like murder, theft, kidnapping and rape. Wifi can allow pedophilia, ID theft, collaspe essential servers that control electricity, water, sewage etc which can lead to death and destruction. It was proven that a computer virus allowed the destruction ot the centrifuges that were processing the uranium for the iranians. So both can cause the same among of chaos. Actually in the right location at the right time, a open wifi point could cause more mayhem than a marksman ever could.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (2)

aztracker1 (702135) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972879)

"stolen wifi" can't kill a clerk at the convenience store...

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

RatherBeAnonymous (1812866) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973095)

It can if it is used to hack a SCADA system. Granted, it would be neigh impossible to target a specific person.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

RoknrolZombie (2504888) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973541)

Yet...

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

Abalamahalamatandra (639919) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973601)

Wanna bet? VOIP + SWATting = win.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42973579)

terrible analogy.

nobody is OR CAN use ur guns from the other side of the globe to commit crimes.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1, Flamebait)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about a year and a half ago | (#42971979)

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.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972073)

Ever hear of military attack drones?
Nitpicking aside, that particular flaw in the analogy only servers to reinforce his point.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (4, Insightful)

Spiridios (2406474) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972083)

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:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972455)

So if an IP couldn't be used by more than 1 person simultaneously that would make a difference?

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972003)

This isn't a particularly big deal. The "IP address isn't a person" argument has been brought up in cases before, but it's just never mattered. In previous cases I've read about, there was other evidence, such as the infringing material being found on the defendant's computer, or usernames related to the person's real name.

Similarly, a gun registration doesn't mean the owner's automatically responsible for any crimes, but it does certainly put the owner under suspicion, and may be probable cause for a more thorough search.

Huh! (1)

bogaboga (793279) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972189)

This isn't a particularly big deal. The "IP address isn't a person" argument has been brought up in cases before, but it's just never mattered

It would be absurd to even insinuate that an IP is a person. From what I know, an IP doesn't have "life" or a "state of mind," so how can it be a person?

An IP in this context could be used to narrow down a set of suspects. In other words, it's just a set of numbers, right?

Re:Huh! (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972997)

But.. IPs are corporations, and corporations are people, so.....

Re:Huh! (1)

Dogtanian (588974) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973153)

From what I know, an IP doesn't have "life"

Well, yeah, but neither do most Slashdotters, so what's your point? ;-)

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972017)

Correlation? I do not think it means what you think it means.

Anyway, there's also a difference between a civil case and a criminal case, might want to look that up. Or perhaps if your car gets stolen and used for drug trafficking, you should be held responsible because your vehicle was used.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972049)

That's not a simple correlation. Wifi is considered a polite gift to visitors, and a necessity for roomates/family. You don't loan your guns or cars to your guests, though (I hope to God, at least, you don't), and you should be careful about letting roomates or family use such things with no supervision.

  I'm fine with giving someone access to a few alpha-numeric characters that lets them check facebook. Not fine with giving someone a lethal weapon or a piece of metal that weighs a ton and propels itself an order of magnitude faster than a human.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972105)

An internet connection can easily be shared between multiple simultaneous users. When 5 people can aim and fire 1 gun at the same time, I'll agree with you.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972629)

An internet connection can easily be shared between multiple simultaneous users. When 5 people can aim and fire 1 gun at the same time, I'll agree with you.

Why limit yourself to the small stuff - crew served weapons FTW!

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972839)

i have a crew-served anti-aircraft gun at my house, errr compound, you insensitive clod!

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973091)

what difference does it make though ?

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

BronsCon (927697) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973177)

When I'm using my gun, I know, beyond any doubt, that nobody else is; when I'm not using it, it's locked up securely. When I'm using my internet connection, I know I've taken reasonable steps to secure it and only allow authorized users, but I don't have the same level of assurance that those measures haven't been bypassed, and it's no more secure when I'm not using it than when I am. The number of possible users and means by which access can be gained makes all the difference.

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972513)

An IP address should not be sufficient evidence to convict a person of anything.

Likewise, a gun serial number should not be sufficient evidence to convict a person of anything.

What exactly was your point again?

(Keywords being "should not")

Re:If these cases involved guns.... (1)

obarthelemy (160321) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973031)

easy: IP addresses are mentioned neither in the constitution nor in the bible, which clearly mean the state can do whatever with them.

Moskowitz 2016 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42971819)

Now we just need a catchy slogan for his Presidential campaign in 2016 where he captures the all-important tech vote.

On Appeal (3, Insightful)

gpmanrpi (548447) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Not guilty, perhaps, but... (1)

mark-t (151149) | about a year and a half ago | (#42971849)

... perhaps still responsible.

Many ISP's terms of service hold the subscriber responsible for any activity coming from the IP addresses that they are leasing to the subscriber, and can in those cases still be held civilly liable (albeit not criminally).

Re:Not guilty, perhaps, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42971977)

Only as far as the TOS for that particular ISP allows. The worst that could happen is that you lose your internet service. It has no bearing on whether a 3rd party can take you to court for actions made from your IP.

Re:Not guilty, perhaps, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972589)

What are you talking about? Wasn't this a civil case? And isn't it blatantly obvious you can't be convicted criminally on the evidence of "But he paid for some internets!"? Why would that even be news if that's what this case was about?

Re:Not guilty, perhaps, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972655)

... perhaps still responsible.

Many ISP's terms of service hold the subscriber responsible for any activity coming from the IP addresses that they are leasing to the subscriber,

And then they provide a router with default passwords and WPS enabled...

Re:Not guilty, perhaps, but... (1)

cdrudge (68377) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972767)

Well, in this case obviously the subscriber was not held to be civilly or criminally liable. If the ISP chooses to suspend or terminate the subscribers account based on the allegations of the 3rd party, then I guess that's their prerogative. However the ISP probably isn't going to have any proof of the infringement other than what the 3rd party claims, and the 3rd party probably isn't going to get involved in a case with further significant evidence other than basic information on a sheet of paper that may not even be accurate.

Besides, the ISP would lose a paying customer. If things were bad enough that the cost of having to deal with the customer exceeded the revenue brought in by them, then maybe they would get rid of them.

It might get into a legal predicament if the ISP terminates the account and charges a termination fee. But that's another legal matter between the ISP and the subscriber, not the originally accusing 3rd party and the subscriber.

Revelation (1)

gizmod (931775) | about a year and a half ago | (#42971863)

Wow? What a revelation this is indeed.

Welcome to 1990 (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42971895)

That's what people have been saying for over two decades... Glad common sense has won out on this one.

Re:Welcome to 1990 (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972419)

That's what people have been saying for over two decades... Glad common sense has won out on this one.

Yup. And yup.

Precedence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42971935)

We have finally gotten some of it! This is a great first step in making the Corps that are issuing these lawsuits to actually do their investigation.

Now, if this passes, they may try to pass laws to make the subscriber responsible (can anyone say Unprotected Wifi laws?)... which will be the never ending fight.

More evidence (4, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42971953)

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.

Re:More evidence (3, Interesting)

HaZardman27 (1521119) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972011)

Doesn't that make it pretty much impossible to file a copyright infringement claim against someone for downloading a file?

Oh gosh, we can only hope.

Re:More evidence (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972861)

And why is that good?

The fact that the parent's snarky comment was modded to 4, while I bothered to read the judge's report, and point out the pros and cons of the ruling -- that gets modded up, then down, up, then down. Slashdot needs to grow up.

Slashdot mentality:
Copyright on TV and movies is evil! And games! I can watch or play whatever I want for free! And with no ads!
Copyright on indie games? Or open source applications? That's good however.

Re:More evidence (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972093)

This ruling was expected and exactly why the RIAA/MPAA is working on bypassing the courts completely and working directly with the internet providers. The three strikes or six strikes rule or whatever it is they agreed on. Now if your IP is suspected, you get cut off. No evidense needed other than the MPAA/RIAA sending an email to your provider saying your subscriber infringed.

I work at a large company and we get letters all of the time from the MPAA. It lists a file name and a time and that it was tracked to our IP address and there was a copyright violation. No evidense other than our public IP address and a date/time. I have no idea what that person was doing, what the MPAA used to determine infringment. Just a file name and a date. Did they download the file directly from our IP address? Did they inspect the files contents? Did they just see a file name somewhere? Who knows.

Re:More evidence (3, Interesting)

gstoddart (321705) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972107)

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?

It needs to be made more difficult, and there needs to be some burden of proof shifted to the accuser.

So many of these they seem to send the "you've been caught downloading, pay us this much money and this goes away" extortion letters, or they file the John Doe lawsuits to get the subscribers names, and then sue them that way. They just go with presumed guilt, and make it impossible for someone to defend themselves without bankrupting themselves.

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.

It doesn't need to be completely impossible ... but there does need to be some actual evidence beyond "I have your IP address, therefore it was you" stuff they do now. They've been trending too much to the point where they can claim anything with no real evidence, and the courts follow along.

Re:More evidence (2)

rwise2112 (648849) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972477)

... but there does need to be some actual evidence beyond "I have your IP address, therefore it was you" stuff they do now. They've been trending too much to the point where they can claim anything with no real evidence, and the courts follow along.

Nonsense: MPAA accuses laser printer [afterdawn.com]

Re:More evidence (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972781)

It doesn't need to be completely impossible ... but there does need to be some actual evidence beyond "I have your IP address, therefore it was you" stuff they do now.

So then, we are in agreement that this ruling is bad. This ruling says that they must tie it to an individual, but they are not allowed to do any investigation that would help them in doing that.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972905)

Good. They have no reason to go after downloaders anyway.

There's no reason that anyone should have their doors busted down just so a copyright infringer can be found.

Re:More evidence (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973073)

Good. They have no reason to go after downloaders anyway.

How about... copyright?

There's no reason that anyone should have their doors busted down just so a copyright infringer can be found.

No one said anything about busting down doors. What should have happened was a motion for discovery be granted before the case was dismissed.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42973237)

In most jurisdictions I know enough about, what is actually illegal is distribution - uploading, rather than downloading. That said, in these days of peer-to-peer file sharing, the latter frequently (but far from always) entails the former.

Re:More evidence (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973483)

Indeed. And it shouldn't be completely impossible for the average Joe or Jane to defend themselves against the legal steamroller, either. This Inquisition has been way, way to unbalanced in favor of the accusers for way too long. Accept extortionate demand or be bankrupted trying to prove your innocence. It isn't fair.

Re:More evidence (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973499)

*too unbalanced. Sorry (OCD).

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972135)

There does have to be a reasonable path to discovery, I think you're correct. How about a nice little car analogy?

There's a drive-by shooting. Witnesses get a basic description of the car involved, including the license plate. With that there's probable cause to search the vehicle but (I think -- IANAL) not enough to, say, issue an arrest warrant for the owner of the car.

There's (seemingly) a clear link between the defendant and the IP address -- it's his account, after all, and more likely than not the alleged infringement at the very least traversed his network. Sure, that's not enough to charge him with, but I can't see how there shouldn't be cause for discovery here. What am I missing?

All that being said, I get why the judge tossed the case; he should have, an IP address isn't a person.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972151)

In what situation is it necessary to pursue legal action against a single individual for downloading a single copyrighted file? Or even numerous copyrighted files?

In what situation do you, as some sort of producer of protected content, need to file a suit against some random person? Your goal should be to remove public use you did not permit. You would be hard-pressed to justify true harm or loss because some guy downloaded your song without paying for it. Remove it from its public location and you'll survive.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972295)

Your goal should be to remove public use you did not permit. You would be hard-pressed to justify true harm or loss because some guy downloaded your song without paying for it. Remove it from its public location and you'll survive.

Hello... Torrents......

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972175)

Doesn't that make it pretty much impossible to file a copyright infringement claim against someone for downloading a file?

They realized this a while ago, which is why they've been pushing to have the ISPs enforce their will solely on the basis of an IP address. No need to waste Time & Money® suing people you can't identify when you can just have them banished from the Internets® altogether.

Re:More evidence (5, Insightful)

taucross (1330311) | about a year and a half ago | (#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.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972463)

Do you think it is better to convict an innocent person, or to let a guilty person go free?

Depends on the situation, but overall I'd say the latter.

An innocent person convicted has very little recourse and cannot be duly compensated for the false conviction.

If a serial offender is mistakenly released then there is the risk of that person causing further harm, but hopefully there will have been enough evidence to increase the scrutiny on such a person so that he/she may be stopped and eventually convicted of a future crime.

If a one-time offender is released, then he/she escapes punishment, but also has no intention of causing further harm to society.

Re:More evidence (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972947)

Fairness happens through a strict audit chain of deductive evidence. An IP address is not a way of identifying criminal liability.

1) There is no criminal liability involved here. This is a civil case.

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.

2) yes, I agree. I said as much in my post. You missed the my point entirely.

The problem is that the judge forbids discovery. Apparently no one on Slashdot knows what that means. It means that they are forbidden from obtaining any more evidence or doing any more research. They can't look at the network, or the hard drives, or anything. They can't contact the ISP. Nada. So even if they could prove it was an individual, they are not legally allowed to! The problem with this ruling isn't that the judge said IP addresses are not enough evidence. Everyone agrees with that. The issue is that he dismissed the case so they can't do discovery.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972257)

While simply being the subscriber is no longer (we hope) proof of infringement it would almost certainly be probable cause for a search warrant. They you can pay to have PC drives analysed to see if they contain copyrighted material. This should make prosecution of these cases a lot more expensive and eliminate the scatter shot 1500 John Does kind of cases.

Re:More evidence (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972993)

While simply being the subscriber is no longer (we hope) proof of infringement it would almost certainly be probable cause for a search warrant.

My entire complaint is that the judge denied the search warrant!

This is a civil case. So there is no such thing as a warrant. Instead, it is called a motion for discovery. But the judge denied he motion for discovery when he granted the dismissal. That was my entire complaint.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972305)

Who precisely would you suggest that they initiate discovery with?

Re:More evidence (1)

rwise2112 (648849) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972423)

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.

And how do you tie the user to the computer? Many computers are used by more than one person.

Re:More evidence (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972805)

If it was a shared computer, such as at a library or school, then they would probably need to see who was logged-in at the time it was downloaded. They could also look at the date stamp on the file on the computer, or see whose user directory it was in. But at the moment, the ruling forbids any of that since it forbids discovery.

My complaint with the ruling is that it forbids them from doing the investigation that would help them determine this!

Re:More evidence (1)

PraiseBob (1923958) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972733)

But wait... is this really fair?

Are you kidding me?

These jerks abuse the legal system to conduct extortion. Several prominent trolls are facing serious jail time for their crimes, which are numerous. And here you are worried that they have to have actual proof before trying to ruin somebodys life?!

Re:More evidence (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973147)

But wait... is this really fair?

Are you kidding me?

These jerks abuse the legal system to conduct extortion. Several prominent trolls are facing serious jail time for their crimes, which are numerous. And here you are worried that they have to have actual proof before trying to ruin somebodys life?!

LOL.

Now let's see, do I think it's fair? Hmmmm..........

Uh......., yeah, I do.

Re:More evidence (1)

thunderclap (972782) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973057)

Fair is like Normal. It doesn't exist. Its a pie in the sky weasel word that is meaningless. the only people who suggest it are those who have something to lose. Do you?
I think making it completely impossible to track down copyright infringement cases is the best idea possible. They are distributors now. They need to wake up and accept that. A company creates nothing. Individuals do. Sadly, people don't understand that. So we need to get back to individual ownership for all media with a small segment given to the companies to do distribution. However, I doubt I will see that happen anytime soon.

Re:More evidence (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973199)

... 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...

You may be entirely right, and I simply don't care.

Yes, I have friends and family who depend on their intellectual property to survive - they're artists, and it's a hard slog.

However, I believe "no illegal search and seizure" is still an important principle, and remains a fundamental right, whether or not people believe the Constitution is still enforceable. It's still a document worth fighting for.

There are trolls (noun) and people who troll (verb). To paw through peoples' belongings without a court order establishing reasonable grounds for suspicion that a named individual is doing something wrong, is utterly excoriable. "I think they're hiding something" is not enough. Nobody needs the return of the Inquisition.

Re:More evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42973209)

If I photocopy an entire book on my scanner/printer it is also nearly impossible to track me down. If I tape a song off the radio it is pretty much impossible to track me down.

Yes, we do need a way of rewarding those who create content, but trying to apply the old ways will require turning the world into a police state. I don't have any easy solutions.

Kind of depends, doesn't it? (0)

aklinux (1318095) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972119)

If I knowingly loan one of my guns or vehicles to someone I know, or should know, to be a problem, I would expect to be held liable to some degree. If, however, someone steals one of these things or otherwise accesses them without my permission, the liability is theirs.

Re:Kind of depends, doesn't it? (2)

NoKaOi (1415755) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972415)

If I knowingly loan one of my guns or vehicles to someone I know, or should know, to be a problem, I would expect to be held liable to some degree. If, however, someone steals one of these things or otherwise accesses them without my permission, the liability is theirs.

And what if you loan out your hunting rifle to your friend to go hunting, and they end up murdering somebody with it, should you be held responsible? What if you loan your car to your friend to go grocery shopping and they end up running a red light and killing somebody, should you be liable? I think only if you have a reasonable belief that the individual might use it for that purpose. How about if somebody steals your car or gun and does the same?

One problem with WiFi is that you don't necessarily know if somebody else is using it. In the case of a car or a gun, you generally know if it gets stolen because it's not where you left it. Sure, you can lock your doors, but somebody can always break a window. With WiFi, sure, you can always click the little password checkbox, but it's still not hard for somebody to break into it. In most situations (that is, most people with most setups) they're not going to be able to tell if somebody else was using their WiFi.

Another car analogy...if your car runs a red light with a red light camera, or speeds and gets caught by photo radar, if somebody else is driving your car then should the burden of proof lie on you to prove somebody else was driving, or on law enforcement to prove you were driving?

Not yet (2)

03Cobra (826073) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972343)

The pdf states that only claim 3 (negligence to secure ones internet connect) was dismissed. Claims 1 and 2 were deferred back to the plaintiff to provide more evidence to provide the claim that the defendant commited infringment and willingly redistributed copyrighted material. They plaintiffs have 20 days from the ruling to provide thsi evidence.

Re:Not yet (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972379)

BTW, after this ruling, the plaintiff withdrew the entire case. Probably hoping to find a less intelligent judge somewhere else.

Re:Not yet (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973245)

BTW, after this ruling, the plaintiff withdrew the entire case. Probably hoping to find a less intelligent judge somewhere else.

I suspect so. A burglar will always prefer the house with the poorest security.

This is big (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972355)

This ruling is huge.

Ever since I first got involved in fighting the RIAA's litigation campaign, and blogging about it, in 2005 [that's almost 8 years ago] I've been arguing that it is not a sufficient basis to bring a lawsuit against someone that an internet access account for which he or she pays the bill was used by someone for a copyright infringement. Even though I, and lots of other lawyers, and lots of other techies, and lots of other people from all walks of life knew this, I have never -- until this ruling -- seen a JUDGE dismiss a complaint because of this.

If those of you who are saying this is "not a big deal" or "was expected" know of any prior decisions like this, please show them to me. Otherwise, STFU about it not being big. After about 10 years and hundreds of thousands of frivolous lawsuits, finally a judge has pointed out that the Emperor is wearing no clothes.

It is one of the most newsworthy copyright posts I have ever seen on Slashdot.

Re:This is big (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972737)

Ray, thank you for your hard work and efforts.

captcha: triumphs

Re:This is big (3, Interesting)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972917)

This ruling is not just huge - if upheld all the way, this could be the death knell for any hope of enforcing copyrights where it comes to individual users/distributors as long as the internet or structures like it (a potentially shared resource as the only identifying element) is involved.

This is basically me, downloading all of the movies currently on offer on TPB, putting them on a server, and seeding them for as long as that system will last, sharing these movies with hundreds of thousands of people during the course of its operation, with there being nothing for the copyright holders to even start forming litigation around short of a John Doe; which doesn't get them very far if a judge is just going to say "who is John Doe?" and the answer is "we don't know, that's why it's a John Doe."

They can write to my ISP, and even my ISP would have to concede that while the complaining party may very well have an IP address and a timestamp, and my ISP may very know which account that is assigned to, due to the fact that even my ISP doesn't know who - in terms of a legal entity - actually used the account.

At worst, my ISP has a clause saying that the account may be closed if they have a reasonable suspicion that I am indeed performing the above - but they'll likely still try to shy away from doing so.

The question is, how is this going to be countered? If there's one thing we've learned over time it's that the copyright holders will not just let the inevitable come easy.

Will laws be constructed, or (re)interpreted, such that the account holder can be held legally accountable for that which is done through the account? Will only authorized modems be allowed on ISP networks with users wishing to use these modems required to use a token that identifies the person per-packet up to the ISP and make them legally responsible to take great care that this token remains only with them? If this, will lobby groups (and I'm not just thinking of 'big content' here) then push to have this per-packet identification be sent out across all of the internet so that infringement of all sorts can be dealt with directly?

Yes, this is a victory on many levels for the great majority of internet users (albeit just a little more for 'pirates' who stand to benefit the most). Just don't be surprised if it's going to get worse long before it's going to get better.

That said, there's that 'if' at the top of my comment. That's a big 'if'.

On a side note: Good to see you again, NYCL - it's been a while.

Re:This is big (1)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973063)

Good to see you again, NYCL - it's been a while.

Nice to see you, too, Quasi :)

Re:This is big (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972975)

Ray, given that they withdrew the case, does that still make this ruling precedent? And on what level of precedent? Federal, or just this circuit?

Re:This is big (2)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973033)

Ray, given that they withdrew the case, does that still make this ruling precedent? And on what level of precedent?

It's not binding precedent, but IMHO it represents strong persuasive authority.

Re:This is big (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42973045)

Yes, but the RIAA/MPAA will quickly write some legislation -and have one of their paid lackies insert it in some piece of important but otherwise totally unrelated bill- that makes the account holder *responsible* - something similar happens in lots of jurisdictions with automobiles: license plate holder is responsible and will have to prove they were *not* the driver.

Re:This is big (2)

MobyDisk (75490) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973239)

Hey NYCL,

So I got beat up here at Slashdot for suggesting that the judge should have granted discovery. Can you clarify here for me? Based on my reading of the ruling, the judge said that they could refile if they had additional evidence pointing to an individual. But it also seemed to deny any possibility for discovery. How could they tie it to an individual if they can't file for discovery? They could have looked at network logs, or hard drive contents, etc. and possibly proved who downloaded the file. I'm not saying it would be worth it to do so, but it doesn't seem just to set a precedent that you must identify the individual, but you may not access any of the evidence that would help you to do so.

Ex: Suppose someone wearing red gloves broke my window then ran into 100 Mockingbird lane. I don't think I could sue an address. But it does seem sensible that I could bring a case and request discovery to find the red gloves within the house, if I believed that the gloves could help me identify which individual in the house. Perhaps the gloves were in the 12-year old son's bedroom? Or perhaps in the dad's closet? That seems pertitent. In this case, their dismissal seemed to forbid the equivalent action.

Re:This is big (4, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973391)

Moby, the thing is you're supposed to have done an investigation BEFORE bringing a federal lawsuit. When a lawyer signs his name to the complaint he's affirming that he's done that and has EVIDENCE that the DEFENDANT committed a copyright infringement.

In the federal rules there's no procedure for bringing a lawsuit against someone to give yourself the ability to conduct an "Investigation" with all the coercive powers of a court at your disposal.

This judge just called the plaintiff's lawyer's bluff, which is why the lawyer put his tail between his legs and ran.

Re:This is big (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973425)

This ruling is huge... It is one of the most newsworthy copyright posts I have ever seen on Slashdot.

[X] Strongly Agree. It's been a long time coming, hasn't it? Let's hope the long summer of love for the RIAA is over. Too many people screwed over, too many peoples' lives turned upside down by this latest Inquisition. File-sharers under every bed. Let it stop now.

"Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyer's Guild...Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator; you've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

    -- Joseph Welch, Army-McCarthy hearings (from Wikipedia)

Ray, dude, you're still on my hero list.

Re:This is big (1)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973489)

This ruling is huge.

I agree. It is so important that we should fully expect that MAFIAA lobbyists to now focus their efforts on getting a bill passed to make the owner of the account legally culpable. They even have a case to point at and say, "this is a loophole in the currebnt law, just look how this court ruled."

Re:This is big (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973535)

Ever since I first got involved in fighting the RIAA's litigation campaign, and blogging about it, in 2005 [that's almost 8 years ago] I've been arguing that it is not a sufficient basis to bring a lawsuit against someone that an internet access account for which he or she pays the bill was used by someone for a copyright infringement. Even though I, and lots of other lawyers, and lots of other techies, and lots of other people from all walks of life knew this, I have never -- until this ruling -- seen a JUDGE dismiss a complaint because of this.
 

How would this be affected by the rollout of IPv6 where now an IP address can be used to identify an individual computer (assuming no NATv6)? Would it mean that if you used IPv6, you could have one of your PCs siezed and forensically analyzed (to see if it was a bot doing it or someone at the console)?

After all, I'm pretty sure if any of my PCs were analyzed for activity, it could be determined that yes, I was the user.

At least with IPv4, it's shared between so many devices that to nail down which one of them would be impractical especially with WiFi. With IPv6 being able to identify an individual machine... and even if it was done by someone off premises using WiFi (i.e., the machine no longer exists on the network).

Would the media industry suddenly be pushing for mass IPv6 deployments so instead of only identifying a subscriber, you can identify a subscriber's device (PC, laptop, smartphone, etc) as the culprit and use that to identify the real owner?

Lawyers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972469)

Even a broken clock is right twice a day (yeah you know where you can stick that digital watch too).

Now get off my lawn.

OYuo fail it!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972503)

File was opened Open]BSD. How many

This has been my argument for 10 years... (1)

sdguero (1112795) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972613)

How can you prosecute someone for infringement based on an IP address? IP address doesn't mean jack sh*t. Unless you have the person's computer with the infringing file, and video of them using said computer at the time the file was downloaded/uploaded, it shouldn't be possible to convict somebody of infringement.

IP Address, Car... (4, Insightful)

Wolfling1 (1808594) | about a year and a half ago | (#42972675)

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.

Re:IP Address, Car... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42972957)

I recall watching one of those traffic court shows, where the defendant presented evidence that he was in Mexico on vacation at the time of the infraction caught by the speed camera.

The judge found him guilty anyway, citing the law that specifically stated that the owner of the vehicle must appear or pay the fine as the alleged violator. It didn't say that the owner was responsible, merely that he would have to appear if he contested the fine. (Which he did.)

The judge fined him for being the alleged perpetrator, despite the evidence that he was thousands of miles away. Don't these idiots know the basic vocabulary of the laws they're supposed to be interpreting?

Re:IP Address, Car... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42973301)

And that is why speed camera fines are levied against the license and registration of the car and plates, not against the car's owner. The responsibility for paying the fine is levied against the person who is responsible for the registration.

The equivalent would be if a MPAA fine was levied against an IP address, and the person paying for that ISP account had to pay the fine before renewing their internet service for another month.

Of course speed cameras and license plates are government-controlled, licensed and tested. Spoofing IP addresses is relatively easy and consequence-free, but spoofing a license plate is a serious crime. If at some point in the future fines were to be levied against an IP address rather than at a person who commits a misdeed, then I would expect IP addresses and copyright-monitoring services to be as carefully-controlled as license plates are. This simply must not happen. Copyright infringement should never be granted equal status to vehicular crime, considering the potential victims of both.

Sadly not the case in NZ (1)

Mistakill (965922) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973023)

The MPAA/RIAA when sponsoring the creation of the copyright law change in New Zealand, managed to get it passed that the SUBSCRIBER is the person legally responsible for what happens on the account, no matter what...

and if that's not bad enough, if you're accused of downloading a file, a correctly filled in complaint form from the IP holder is deemed sufficient proof the offense occurred (3 strikes btw)... i.e, if someone accused YOU of downloading Justin Bieber - Baby.mp3 yesterday, could you prove you didn't? I certainly haven't found someone who has figured out a way

Re:Sadly not the case in NZ (2)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year and a half ago | (#42973517)

if someone accused YOU of downloading Justin Bieber - Baby.mp3 yesterday, could you prove you didn't?

No, but I could plead insanity.

Great... as far as it goes... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#42973603)

But that does nothing about TANGIBLE property law being applied to the metaphor for property that results from IP laws, or the court system being wielded like a cudgel to prop up an obsolete economic paradigm, namely physical media acting as the gatekeeper for possessing the content that was, once upon a time most efficiently distributed on it.

I wonder if we'll see a day when you're not allowed to THINK about a song or a movie or a book, without having paid for the right to do so. A snippet of a song plays in your head, and you get a bill e-mailed to you. You quote a line from a movie in a private conversation with a friend, you get a bill, and if you don't pay, you get hit up with a suit for "infringement".

Too bad bribery is legal in this country, as long as they use the word "lobbying" to describe it. Maybe if it weren't, we wouldn't have these fucked up laws. Even if they're only debating them, the insult and injury are done by the fact that we pay these politicians their wages, and in exchange for their pay, they debate how best to subjugate us and strip us of our rights. Wish the states paid them, not the federal government, then each state could vote on what percentage of the established maximum to pay their legislator, based on his/her attendance and performance. Ah, to live in an idea world...

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?