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Florida Judge Rules IP Address Can't Identify a BitTorrent Pirate

Unknown Lamer posted about 4 months ago | from the you-are-number-74.110.69.73 dept.

Piracy 158

An anonymous reader writes "Florida District Court Judge Ursula Ungaro has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Malibu Media against an alleged BitTorrent pirate. Though Malibu Media explained how they geolocated the download site and verified that the IP address was residential rather than a public wifi hotspot, the judge reasoned that the 'Plaintiff has not shown how this geolocation software can establish the identity of the Defendant....Even if this IP address is located within a residence, the geolocation software cannot identify who has access to that residence's computer and who would actually be using it to infringe Plaintiff's copyright.' Judge Ungaro's ruling is not the first of its kind, but it could signal a growing legal trend whereby copyright lawsuits can no longer just hinge on the acquisition of an IP address."

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That needed a judge? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46569693)

Headline makes it sound like a judge ruled on a point of fact.

Re:That needed a judge? (1)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46569707)

Headline makes it sound like a judge ruled on a point of fact.

Yes, first thought was I beg to differ, mine will pin point me.

Re:That needed a judge? (5, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 4 months ago | (#46570281)

You mean, if I were to sneak into your home, and run an ethernet wire to your modem, then attach a wifi router so that I could torrent from down the street, your IP address would definitely pin my activity on you? Cool - I'll be there Friday morning!

Re:That needed a judge? (4, Insightful)

kthreadd (1558445) | about 4 months ago | (#46571775)

Why even bother with a cable. It's not impossible to crack wireless networks.

Re:That needed a judge? (5, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46570611)

You don't understand how torrents work then. Quite a few years ago a group of college students got the RIAA to send take down notices to a campus printer, router and several other pieces of electronics. IP addresses mean absolutely nothing unless you control the entire network from end to end.

car analogy? (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 4 months ago | (#46570497)

See it's like someone identifying your car in a crime. Doesn't prove you ere driving. Well, more like a crime that occurred in your garage and your car never actually left the garage.

Re:car analogy? (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 months ago | (#46570597)

See it's like someone identifying your car in a crime. Doesn't prove you ere driving.

They didn't identify your car in the crime --- they identified a car that had your license plate on it. Someone else with a nearby/similar vehicle may have been "borrowing" your plate (with or without permission)

Re:car analogy? (1)

goombah99 (560566) | about 4 months ago | (#46570753)

But located in your garage or driveway.

Re:car analogy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571149)

Or configured it to look the same as your garage or driveway (vpn through your house)

Re:car analogy? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571383)

No.The car analogy is wrong and stupid here because of wifi. Anyone passing by your house or living near you could crack your wifi and do whatever they want. There is also the possibility that your computer becomes a part of someone's botnet, where they can control it from anywhere in the world.

Also, just because your IP showed up in a torrent swarm doesn't mean you were actually distributing copyrighted materials at all. BitTorrent is not illegal. Downloading is not illegal.

Re:car analogy? (1)

mysidia (191772) | about 4 months ago | (#46572485)

Anyone passing by your house or living near you could crack your wifi and do whatever they want. There is also the possibility that your computer becomes a part of someone's botnet, where they can control it from anywhere in the world.

This is what you get for storing your car outside the garage, with no locks on the doors, and the key in the ignition.

Re:car analogy? (2)

inasity_rules (1110095) | about 4 months ago | (#46572561)

Sacrilege! The car analogy is always appropriate! Burn the AC Heretic! All we need do is make the analogy more out of this world; if someone 3d printed a copy of your car (license plates included), should you be liable for their crimes with the copy of the vehicle?

First (2)

Trax3001BBS (2368736) | about 4 months ago | (#46569701)

I run a hot spot from my router, open to all.

Re:First (0)

brit74 (831798) | about 4 months ago | (#46570531)

Have fun dealing with everybody trying to get free internet. My neighbor didn't lock his down, and once his internet started running like molasses, he checked and found six different people using his internet at the one time. Personally, I'd be worried not only about slow internet, but also about facilitating illegal activities on the internet (not only piracy, but child porn and other ugly activities).

Re:First (3, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 4 months ago | (#46570631)

Traffic shaping. There's plenty of free software out there... you give yourself priority over all other traffic. They can use it for free but as soon as you hop on you get first dibs. Liability for what strangers do with your open wifi is another thing. Sure, you may eventually win in court but when the police haul you out of work on child porn charges how victorious will you feel when you finally get cleared 3 years later after spending your last dime on lawyers?

Re:First (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 months ago | (#46572405)

Don't forget "Trial by Media" and find the words "insufficient evidence" instead of "not guilty" next to your name, and the most unflattering photograph of you that exists, in every newspaper, rendering you utterly unemployable.

Not saying I think it should happen, just that it will.

Re:First (3, Informative)

thegarbz (1787294) | about 4 months ago | (#46571807)

You do realise many routers on the market now offer virtual WiFi hotspots with QoS right? I mean out of the box mine came with the option of having an all singing all dancing SSID and another called Guest which will flow like molasses but none the less allow party goers to pull up wikipedia when drunk and arguing about pointless stuff.

Re:First (1)

Joce640k (829181) | about 4 months ago | (#46572053)

Have fun dealing with everybody trying to get free internet. My neighbor didn't lock his down, and once his internet started running like molasses, he checked and found six different people using his internet at the one time.

My router has a separate "guest" WiFi that I can limit the bandwidth on. I'm free from any lawsuit hassle if I open that up ...?

Re:First (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 4 months ago | (#46571037)

How is this "a growing trend"? I thought it was settled law by now.

For at least the last 3 years, every court case I have seen that deals with this (and there have been more than a few) has ended with the same ruling. In both state and federal court.

And no wonder: it's physical fact. My wifi does not even identify my residence, much less me. I see other people logged in all the time. (To my open guest account, that is.)

At my last place of residence, I had my router (with a great signal) open to the neighborhood there, too, and people a block away would log in. And even people driving or parked nearby with their cell phones on.

good news! (1)

mexsudo (2905137) | about 4 months ago | (#46569703)

Note as firmly plugged in as we thought

A competent Judge in Florida? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46569725)

There has to be a blind squirrel involved somehow.

GeoLocation is not evidence (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46569751)

I'm connected to an ISP in Brisbane, Australia. But my ISP bought a block of IP addresses from someone else so most GeoLocation services tell me I'm sitting somewhere in France.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 4 months ago | (#46569919)

I get that from time to time too. Google France can catch you off guard, although it hasn't happened for a while now.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46569933)

> most GeoLocation services tell me I'm sitting somewhere in France.

How would you prove them wrong? You could put marmite on your baguette, but marmite is also known in France. Perhaps put some marmite on your router?

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570225)

Considering Australians eat Vegemite, your attempted joke didn't work

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (1)

Zaiff Urgulbunger (591514) | about 4 months ago | (#46570459)

Are you using Chrome? 'cos that often tries to translate stuff.... just saying! ;)

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (1)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | about 4 months ago | (#46572429)

Vegimite, mate. Aussies are mad for Vegimite.

Didn't see a single jar of Marmite the whole time I was there.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (1)

arbiter1 (1204146) | about 4 months ago | (#46569971)

My internet ip is allocated to an area. Even if they geoip me at best they will have a general area around 2000 square miles of where i live. Even then they don't know who was using the connection at the time could be me, someone else in the house or even someone that hacked my wifi.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (5, Insightful)

anubi (640541) | about 4 months ago | (#46570513)

When I try to log anything going through my system, I get all sorts of activity that I have no earthly idea what it is... but if I block it, there will be some app that suddenly stops working.

I am reticent to block all activity except for known ports, as a lot of today's software requires me to run the stuff open so they can communicate with their home base.

I would be in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act if I were to reverse engineer the code to find out exactly what they wanted. So, in accordance of my understanding of the Terms of Compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which was bought by the Copyright Holders, I run my wireless nodes that pass information subject to softwares governed by the DMCA wide open. I do not attempt to monitor, reverse engineer, or try to "break their codes". Like watching activity on the street, its not my issue with what other people are doing. Its been my experience that interfering in other people's doings is not very healthful.

The Copyright Industry has fought long and hard, spending countless resources to have law passed that makes ignorance of how one's stuff works as a condition of lawful compliance with their terms and conditions. We are now getting a lawfully compliant population who leaves every port on their system open because some copyright holder might want to use that port, closing it will cause the system to malfunction. Troubleshooting and repairing the malfunction is now defined by our Congress as being in violation of Copyright Law.

For my critical stuff, which I have not signed away any rights, I can still communicate securely, but for the commercial stuff, which I agreed to leave access wide open, I comply.

But as far as my wireless access points...

I HAVE NO EARTHLY IDEA WHAT IS GOING THROUGH IT.

Nor, do I feel I am lawfully allowed to know.

As far as I am concerned, I am running a public toilet.

Anyone is welcome as long as they don't come in and make a mess.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about 4 months ago | (#46570157)

It wasn't used as evidence, it was used in the hope of getting the judge to issue a subpoena to the ISP, providing real evidence.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | about 4 months ago | (#46570297)

But, what "evidence" could the ISP provide? Nothing more than has already been established. Someone used the customer's IP address to download copyrighted material. Nothing more, and nothing less. Could be the guy who pays the bill, could be his kids, could be his spouse, could be a house guest, could be some kid out front of the house with a laptop. That seems to be what the judge has ruled.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (0)

mark-t (151149) | about 4 months ago | (#46571117)

But it's still that guy's subscription... and whether or not the subscriber was personally responsible for any illegal activity, such activity still can violate the TOS of the ISP... and regardless of who was doing it, it can still be reasonably grounds for termination of service. If somebody was actually doing this without authorization and without his knowledge, then the person will hopefully take something positive from the experience and learn how to properly secure their own network so that it doesn't happen again.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (4)

vux984 (928602) | about 4 months ago | (#46571607)

But it's still that guy's subscription...

So? If you use my golf clubs to beat a homeless man, that's on you, not me.

such activity still can violate the TOS of the ISP... and regardless of who was doing it, it can still be reasonably grounds for termination of service.

The service contract with the ISPs is at the ISPs discretion. 3rd parties can't dictate what the ISP does with your service.

If somebody was actually doing this without authorization and without his knowledge, then the person will hopefully take something positive from the experience and learn how to properly secure their own network so that it doesn't happen again.

Or better still he will continue to refuse to bow down to silly oppressive tactics, and will do what he wants with his wifi, instead of cowering in fear.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571143)

What evidence? There can be multiple people living in a house, never mind guests and intruders. How do they know which computer downloaded the file? Or which person was using that computer at the time? What are they going to do, sue everyone? Sue the 3 independent adults living here for one infringement? I don't think that would be allowed.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (2)

rtb61 (674572) | about 4 months ago | (#46570741)

At the end of the day the ISP provides those IP addresses based upon time of use and with sufficient security to allow a bill in the tens of dollar range. Considering that this is the sole evidence in infringements that could result in penalties of hundreds of thousands of dollars any ISP providing this evidence should be forced to warrant the accuracy of this evidence to tune of at least one million dollars (get it wrong and they owe the defendant this for a false accusation) or clearly state that the information provide is just an estimate in line with likely charges of tens of dollars.

What you have is agents of the copyright holders who have a vested interest in the creation of charges whether real or fabricated, targeted at IP addresses they claim to be infringing at a particular time subject to them being paid nothing if they do not find infringers. These claims then used to legally force ISPs to hand over data aligned with those claims, this data in turn only of security, accuracy and cost to balance against charges in the tens of dollars ranges with no penalty for inaccurate information being supplied, especially when the ISPs own employees within the ISPs facilities could be the perpetrators and could seek to hide their activities behind their customers.

Now add to all of this, the proof of the lack of security of computer systems by the NSA readily being able to hack any users computer systems, allowing any like minded criminal to do much the same as those criminal NSA agents. In fact there is a whole industry struggling to keep out computer viruses, trojans, worms, backdoors and phishing attacks (how can any normally computer skilled person hop to succeed where professionals fail). How can any sound and reasoned minded judge adjudicated that any evidence as unsubstantiated and circumstantial as that be accepted in court as the sole evidence of the case.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (1)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | about 4 months ago | (#46571453)

I know what you mean, I am either somewhere in southern China or some where two states away. I live in the Midwest in the USA. GeoLocation is such a great method of location someone.

Re:GeoLocation is not evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46572279)

I'm connected to an ISP in Brisbane, Australia. But my ISP bought a block of IP addresses from someone else so most GeoLocation services tell me I'm sitting somewhere in France.

Free vacation for you without leaving the comfort of your chair. Parlez-vous le francais monsieur? :-)

a lot of innocent neighbors... (2)

harvey the nerd (582806) | about 4 months ago | (#46569801)

...and grandparents can breathe easier today.

Scribd sucks (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46569833)

Scribd is completely broken in browsers without javascript. Anyone got a link to the actual ruling?

Hurrah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46569921)

How sad is it that the only sane ruling in these kinds of cases is big news?
Is this the first time a competent defense lawyer has been involved in a case of this nature?

Re: Hurrah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570133)

I'm just dumbfounded that this came out of Florida

X-Art Shakedown Failing? (5, Interesting)

GumphMaster (772693) | about 4 months ago | (#46569951)

This is one of those cases where the settlement shakedown, even with the threat of publicly exposing one's porn viewing habits, has failed. Some more here: https://www.eff.org/cases/mali... [eff.org] . Maybe they will eventually give up the cause but I expect the X-Art lawyers to keep going in every other district and jurisdiction while there is still a buck to be extracted.

Re:X-Art Shakedown Failing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570283)

X-Art is far from the best site to shake people down over exposing their viewing of — it’s the kind of “classy,” “artistic” porn you could watch with your S.O. without getting slapped or dumped. Among the least embarrassing porn out there. If you really want to get someone over a barrel, threaten furries or cake-sitting enthusiasts or crush fetishists.

Re:X-Art Shakedown Failing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570303)

you must have a boring SO if you only have artistic sex with her

Re:X-Art Shakedown Failing? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570329)

i know it's passe to read the article, but if you had, you wouldn't have even posted..

Malibu Media, which runs the site "x-art," files civil complaints in courts around the country. Each complaint accuses an anonymous Internet user of illegally downloading and sharing one or more of Malibu's movies. But the complaint goes further: Malibu attaches a list of other movies and files that Malibu accuses the user of copying illegally. Some of them have titles that are far more lewd and embarrassing than the titles of Malibu's own movies. But Malibu doesn't own the copyright in those other movies, and can't actually sue over them. There's no legitimate reason to attach that list of other titles to a complaint, because complaints in federal court are not the place for laying out evidence. They're just to initiate a case and let the other side know what the case is about. But adding some really embarrassing titles to a complaint and filing it on a public court docket ups the embarrassment factor and discourages innocent people from standing up for themselves in court. (It's not clear what those extra titles would add to a court case, anyway - most judges would bar them from being read to a jury.)

Sudden outbreak of common sense? (4, Funny)

halfEvilTech (1171369) | about 4 months ago | (#46569955)

I mean of all places florida?

Re:Sudden outbreak of common sense? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570511)

Florida judges put Max Hardcore in prison, not surprising that they have little sympathy for pornographers' copyright claims

What about comcast wifi that offers hotspots to ot (4, Interesting)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 4 months ago | (#46569987)

What about Comcast wifi routers that offers hotspots to other Comcast subs with there newer wifi routers being placed at homes. What do they show up as?

Re:What about comcast wifi that offers hotspots to (2)

_Ludwig (86077) | about 4 months ago | (#46570289)

An airtight defense.

Re:What about comcast wifi that offers hotspots to (1)

FuzzMaster (596994) | about 4 months ago | (#46570403)

I wondered the same thing. Maybe this offers plausible deniability and a reason not to opt out.

Re: What about comcast wifi that offers hotspots t (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570435)

I doubt the hotspot would have the same IP as the subscriber. Otherwise they would allow guests to easily intercept the subscriber's traffic and bypass their wireless encryption completely.

Comparable to... (2)

hedgemage (934558) | about 4 months ago | (#46569989)

IANAL but isn't making the assumption that the registered user of an IP address is responsible for any and all illegal activity that involve that IP address the same kind of leap of logic that you'd make if you assumed that any crime committed with a gun directly implicates the registered owner of said firearm?

Re:Comparable to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570081)

It's an implication. It's certainly not enough evidence to convict. You could conceivably have laws that require an IP address owner to secure access to the address.

Re:Comparable to... (1)

TavisJohn (961472) | about 4 months ago | (#46570223)

The problem is that unless you pay for a fixed IP address, your IP address can change at any time. So you can have one IP address today and in an hour, day or a week have another.

Re:Comparable to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570293)

The problem is that unless you pay for a fixed IP address, your IP address can change at any time. So you can have one IP address today and in an hour, day or a week have another.

C'mon, that's horribly thought out. Like they don't have any way to know who had the specific IP at what time.

Re:Comparable to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570635)

No kidding, and who has a broadband connection that isn't on 24/7? How often have you actually had your IP change lately? Mine has been going on 5 years now.

Re:Comparable to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571123)

Comcast in Florida tells me they automagically change my IP address every few weeks.

Re:Comparable to... (2)

techno-vampire (666512) | about 4 months ago | (#46570781)

Remember, we're talking about civil suits here, where the burden of proof is "preponderance of evidence," not "beyond a reasonable doubt" as it is in a criminal proceeding. Even if you have an open WiFi hotspot, it's not enough to show that somebody else could have used it. In order to win with that defense, you'd have to show that somebody else probably did leach off your connection and download whatever it was. In this case, the judge ruled that the fact that the plaintiffs knew what physical location was using the IP address in question didn't give sufficient probable cause for a warrant. Without a warrant, they can't get any evidence to use in court, so this suit is probably dead in the water.

Re:Comparable to... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 4 months ago | (#46570899)

it's not enough to show that somebody else could have used it.

You can show someone else used it all day long, in America, you are responsible for what happens if you leave your wifi completely unprotected.

You have to PROVE it was someone else, and you have to prove it was someone else specifically. 'Someone I don't know used my open wifi, it wasn't me!!' will be considered guilty for all practical purposes.

There is legal precedent for this already.

Re:Comparable to... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571211)

But not necessarily legal precedent that allows them to confiscate your computers.
That is what it leads to, and I think that is the problem.

They have an IP address, they would like the judge to allow them to confiscate all computers at that address, in order to prove or disprove that they infringed upon their copyright.

The act of gathering the proof of infringement is so damaging, they will need more proof than a single IP address. As it is; I can ascert that you stole my copyright, and provide an IP address for you. I know its you, I swear it was the IP address, so I would like to confiscate all your equipment and find out.

How would you feel if knowledge of location and IP address was all it took?

Re:Comparable to... (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 4 months ago | (#46571909)

Remember, we're talking about civil suits here, where the burden of proof is "preponderance of evidence," not "beyond a reasonable doubt" as it is in a criminal proceeding. Even if you have an open WiFi hotspot, it's not enough to show that somebody else could have used it. In order to win with that defense, you'd have to show that somebody else probably did leach off your connection and download whatever it was.

It's common sense that if I wanted to download stuff illegally, I wouldn't do that at my own home where I can easily be found, but I would indeed leach someone else's connection. So it is more likely that the downloading wasn't done by the person who can be found easily.

Re:Comparable to... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571153)

They covered that in previous version of the lawsuits.
They claimed that the owner of the account had a duty to protect their client (it was all the rage in copyright troll circles at the time) and even if you didn't download it you still owed them thousands of dollars.
Judges kicked those claims out of court, but that did not stop them from raising them multiple times as a tactic to scare people innocent of the alleged crime into paying hush money to them.

Don't get too excited. (4, Insightful)

xigxag (167441) | about 4 months ago | (#46570023)

You know how this will eventually play out. They'll wind up amending the law to state that whoever the ip address is assigned to is prima facie liable and will have to prove their innocence. Loophole closed.

Re:Don't get too excited. (1)

pipedwho (1174327) | about 4 months ago | (#46570257)

Isn't guilty until proven innocent (or rich) already standard operating procedure over there in the USA?

Get excited, but in a bad way (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 months ago | (#46570259)

You know how this will eventually play out. They'll wind up amending the law to state that whoever the ip address is assigned to is prima facie liable and will have to prove their innocence. Loophole closed.

Not just that, because the pro-privacy/freedom side is just gloating about how they keep getting wins, while the MPAA/RIAA/anti-privacy side is busy lobbying, any eventual amendment will likely be the worst possible amendment, with no input from the pro- side.

Re:Don't get too excited. (1)

alen (225700) | about 4 months ago | (#46570313)

wouldn't they have done this with cars and red light or speeding camera tickets already?

Re:Don't get too excited. (3, Funny)

Fned (43219) | about 4 months ago | (#46570339)

"wouldn't they", nothin' Done and done. [jalopnik.com]

Re:Don't get too excited. (1)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 4 months ago | (#46570623)

Judges just LOVE when 'clever' people try to find ways around the law. that guy is gonna get screwed so hard.

Re:Don't get too excited. (1)

Fned (43219) | about 4 months ago | (#46570717)

Actually, it seems that the judges couldn't do anything -- in the end they had to actually have police stake out his house [loweringthebar.net] in order to get any kind of submissible evidence.

Re:Don't get too excited. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571237)

This is easy; in Australia the ticket is issued to the owner of the vehicle.

If it isn't the owner behind the wheel, they must sign a statutory declaration stating who precisely was.
Then they cancel that ticket; and send a ticket to that person.

If he assigns the ticket to someone that doesn't exist, they don't cancel the ticket.
If he assigns the ticket to someone that signs a stat-dec saying it wasn't them, then he is back in the hot seat.

Ultimately; it doesn't have to be him driving, if he can't nominate them as the driver then he is the one that gets burned.

Side node: my dad was driving my grandmothers car, which she inherited from my grandfather when he passed away - any of the speeding tickets she received she [actually my dad] paid for, but she didn't have a license, so any of the "points" deducted [that after enough can accumulate to a cancelled license] were deducted from her non-existing license. Sort of a win-win. (though he still paid the tickets!)

Re: In Australia (1)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | about 4 months ago | (#46571667)

I swear I've learned more 4th hand about Aussie Law on Slashdot than any year in college!

So the way this site works, we get about *eleven* countries chipping in!

USA of course, Australia apparently, Germany, three Scandinavian countries, four people from China and Iran as AC, Britain, Ireland, and your choice of four more!

Re:Don't get too excited. (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 4 months ago | (#46570381)

Yes with all the international treaties floating around expect to see local and national laws reflecting traditions surrounding 'innocence" to be protected.
A simple way would be after your ip is seen few times via logs your home is searched. To get your computer and other electronic or networked appliances back worth $100's or many thousands expect $20,000 in ongoing legal fees and related experts over many months, years.
With networking and remote access been built into more common household appliances you may be left a more empty home and huge legal bills.
A simple lcd on a new refrigerator for recipes/restocking or was it a 24/7 networked server sharing pirated digital property that had the common dual use to keep food cool?
Only a court approved expert can legally examine it - your still innocent btw.

ICANN (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570653)

So is the first step putting ICANN under UN control. Next come treaties where you have to "identify" yourself to use their internet. Then they can track you better.

Oh yea, and in order to identify yourself you will have to pay a tax to the UN, or whoever is doing it.

Cool (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570071)

GASP! You mean that copyright trolls now have to have actual evidence? It's about time. Now we need to apply this same logic to the RIAA's extortion machine.

I wonder (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570163)

Is Malibu Media one of the Prenda Law (Pretend-a-Law is more truthful) firms phoney shell companies? Is this scam still in operation or did the owners finally get sent to prison?

www.torproject.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46570371)

I often thought running a tor exit node gateway for other users may pose a reasonable doubt?

Red light and/or speed cameras (1)

FuzzMaster (596994) | about 4 months ago | (#46570437)

The cameras are similar. Unless there's a clear view of the driver in the photo, there's no way to be sure that the registered owner of the vehicle was driving at the time of the violation.

Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (4, Insightful)

gavron (1300111) | about 4 months ago | (#46570487)

The ruling is good. Let's enjoy that.

However, this is a HORRIBLE writeup. It suggests that "...IP-address evidence can't identify the person who actually downloaded the pirated file."

Under current US law:
1. There is no copyright infringement in downloading a file.
2. Files are. They just are. They are not "pirated files."
3. MAKING INFRINGING CONTENT AVAILABLE TO OTHERS is what is considered copyright infringement/distribution. THAT is why an IP address is important... if one SHARES and MAKES AVAILABLE A FILE. It takes a court to determine whether the actions constitute an actionable behavior.

I can't believe Torrentfreak got it wrong. At least they got the headline right. And this is a good ruling.
Hopefully fightcopyrighttrolls.com and dietrolldie.com won't make that mistake.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (0)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 4 months ago | (#46570825)

This is COMPLETELY wrong.

1. There is no copyright infringement in downloading a file.

Yes, there is. Making a copy, any copy, without permission is copyright infringement except for limited exceptions allowed by law such as fair use.

2. Files are. They just are. They are not "pirated files."

You're splitting hairs. That's like saying there are only cars, not stolen cars.

3. MAKING INFRINGING CONTENT AVAILABLE TO OTHERS is what is considered copyright infringement/distribution

Nope. It's just more worthwhile for content owners to go after those who are distributing. Both are against US law.

Just for fun, I did a quick googling. Here's a guy who claims to have defended people accused of downloading copyrighted content. Note that none of his proposed legal defenses is "it's legal to download copyrighted files."

http://thompsonhall.com/copyri... [thompsonhall.com]

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (1)

gavron (1300111) | about 4 months ago | (#46570857)

I beg to differ.

Please provide a source cite to a statute that indicates the act of "downloading" (feel free to
massage as appropriate; I am not splitting hairs) is unlawful.

As for the lawyer cited, he isn't a very good lawyer: "Fighting a subpoena that attempts to reveal your identity is a waste of money because you will reveal your identity by fighting it."
Lawyers that give advice on the Internet are not creme de la creme. Lawyers that give incorrect advice less so.

E

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (2)

Theaetetus (590071) | about 4 months ago | (#46570925)

I beg to differ.

Please provide a source cite to a statute that indicates the act of "downloading" (feel free to massage as appropriate; I am not splitting hairs) is unlawful.

17 USC 106 [cornell.edu] :

Subject to sections 107 through 122, the owner of copyright under this title has the exclusive rights to do and to authorize any of the following:
(1) to reproduce the copyrighted work in copies or phonorecords...

What you were referring to in your earlier post was the distribution right. That's farther down in the statute:

(3) to distribute copies or phonorecords of the copyrighted work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;

So, yes, you were right that uploading - or distributing copies - is infringement. But you're wrong, in that downloading - or making copies - is also infringement.

For example, check out 17 USC 117 [cornell.edu] , which contains an exception under which copying is not infringement:

(a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy.— Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
(1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or
(2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.

This is a very important exception, because it (1) allows copying from a hard drive to RAM; or (2) copying to a backup drive or CD. But if you don't meet those exceptions, then copying is infringement.

As for the lawyer cited, he isn't a very good lawyer: "Fighting a subpoena that attempts to reveal your identity is a waste of money because you will reveal your identity by fighting it."
Lawyers that give advice on the Internet are not creme de la creme. Lawyers that give incorrect advice less so.

On the other hand, people should never take legal advice about copyright from someone who's apparently never read the copyright act.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about 4 months ago | (#46571197)

It really doesn't mean much if it hasn't been tested in court. If no one is prosecuting based on a law, and no court has upheld it, that means it may be against the law, based on your reading.

It doesn't mean you can be punished for it.

I used to have a PDF of a court decision on my desktop that, unless it has since been superceded, declared downloading illegal. That is, the law forbade it, and the law was correct. Sad thing is, that was re-imaged years ago. Perhaps the archives of NYCL have it.

If you find it, that will bolster your case. And if you find it has been overturned, or a higher court ruled another way, obviously you are wrong.

Someone's reading of a law does not matter. Yours in particular, given your ignorance about who decides what is actually illegal. Only when it is tested does it hold any water. If the judge sides with the law, you're sunk. If the judge decides the law isn't worth anything, it never really was illegal.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571281)

If you download a file, you are not copying it. Copying implies possession of a copy to begin with. You are just receiving a copy, not making a copy. If someone mailed you a copy of something unsolicited, would that count as copying? Not really. Whether you ask for it or not doesn't make a difference. It still isn't you who is making the copy. You can't copy something you don't have.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 4 months ago | (#46571433)

You can't copy something you don't have.

Sure you can. All you need to do is invent a mechanism for copying a thing you don't have. Perhaps a computer somewhere else that has a bunch of files that you don't have, but will make a copy for you if you ask. Arguing that you can ask for the copy to be made and not be responsible for the making of it is like arguing that you weren't speeding, you were merely pressing on the accelerator.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46572953)

The downloader isn't the one doing the copying (except for the RAM copying). The uploader is.

The uploader has a file. He then sends A COPY of that file to the downloader. He does not sent the original, which the downloader then makes a copy of, before sending the original back.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571119)

Torrent software results in simultaneous download/upload activity, the upload portion of which qualifies as distributing copyrighted material and is thus copyright infringement.

The courts have never held that doing a straight HTTP/FTP download is infringement, mostly because it's impossible to track down everyone that's doing it.

Further, it's difficult to quantify what is lost. I call attention to your "stolen car" statement. If someone steals your car, you can't use it. But say the technology existed to create a complete duplicate of your car, down to the last molecule. Then the copier drives off in the copy, leaving your car as it was. How does that affect you in the slightest?

This is the fundamental argument against trying to brand copyright infringement as theft - theft by nature requires something to have been appropriated, taken, or otherwise used in such a manner as it is depriving the original owner of their right to own. Copying a file does none of these things, save potentially resulting in a "lost sale". However, this too is almost impossible to prove; as getting something for free is one thing, paying for it is entirely another. Most folks tend to have a certain standard of quality for something that is not free.

Don't let the ongoing litigation confuse you; the issue is not nearly so simple as the content owners would like us to believe.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 4 months ago | (#46571271)

The courts have never held that doing a straight HTTP/FTP download is infringement, mostly because it's impossible to track down everyone that's doing it.

This is a common error. The law doesn't have to spell out each and every possible method of infringement, just like they don't have to spell out each and every method of murder (with a gun, with an axe, etc). Did you make a copy? Yes. Did you have the permission of the copyright owner, or was it fair use, parody, etc? No? Then it doesn't matter if you copied it with a quill or HTTP or had it sequenced into your DNA.

Here:

“Copies” are material objects, other than phonorecords, in which a work is fixed by any method now known or later developed, and from which the work can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device. The term “copies” includes the material object, other than a phonorecord, in which the work is first fixed.

A work is “fixed” in a tangible medium of expression when its embodiment in a copy or phonorecord, by or under the authority of the author, is sufficiently permanent or stable to permit it to be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated for a period of more than transitory duration. A work consisting of sounds, images, or both, that are being transmitted, is “fixed” for purposes of this title if a fixation of the work is being made simultaneously with its transmission.

That's from 17 USC 101. Maybe you can convince a judge that FTPing something onto your hard drive doesn't qualify, but it seems pretty clear cut to me.

This is the fundamental argument against trying to brand copyright infringement as theft - theft by nature requires something to have been appropriated, taken, or otherwise used in such a manner as it is depriving the original owner of their right to own.

Another common error. I don't argue that it's theft. In fact, in doing a little digging I found that there's case law that establishes precedent that copyright infringement ISN'T theft. But again, I didn't say that it is, just that downloading copyrighted material without the permission of the copyright holder, or fair use exemption, yadda yadda, is copyright infringement.

It's not my intention to get into the philosophical argument here. I can't defend $150,000 statutory damages over downloading a 99 cent song, I'm just pointing out that claiming downloading a 99 cent song is legal without paying for it or otherwise getting a license is wrong by about $149.999.01. The copyright owner doesn't get to sue you because you might have deprived them of a 99 cent sale. They get to sue you because the law says they get to sue you. They even get to sue you for a LOT of money because the law says they can.

I replied to the original poster because so often these discussions boil down to people saying it's ok because $LOGIC and $REASONS and $ETHICS. You're not wrong that downloading a song you'd never buy probably doesn't hurt anyone. It's still illegal, and if you end up in court over it what will matter is what the law actually says, not what you or anyone else thinks it should say.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (1)

Maxo-Texas (864189) | about 4 months ago | (#46571151)

No seriously...

In most cases, you can't prove the copy on the disk is illegitimate.

You can legally record TV programs and radio/TV songs and transcribe books to text files.

A file sitting on the disk is not innately proof of a violation.

Sure- if it is still in theatres you might have an argument.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571295)

When you make legal copies, do you typically name them with scene names and matching nfo files? You name your files like this?

  Naughty.Cheerleaders.Club.PROPER.XXX.720p.WEBRiP.x264-TBP

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (1)

SecurityGuy (217807) | about 4 months ago | (#46571307)

You're splitting hairs, too. :-P

If you illegally download a file, it's "pirated". You're saying it can't be proven sometimes. Granted. Facts and proof are different things.

Re:Ruling good. STORY WRONG. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46572111)

How do you "illegally" download a file? Downloading is not illegal, it's the distribution part that infringes copyright law.

Shocker (0)

Chewbacon (797801) | about 4 months ago | (#46571035)

And I thought Florida was just a state where you could get away with murder.

see this is why ipv6 is a terrible idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571233)

Just saying

lol. (1)

strstr (539330) | about 4 months ago | (#46571247)

This case is wonderful because the judge decided since they had no physical evidence of who was actually being sued, ie no name, and apparently no way to verify that the IP address itself was actually located in Florida, that they did not prove that Florida was the proper venue to handle this case.

All the filers actually have to do is refile the case once new evidence has been obtained, like through either submitting the case to the FBI and asking them to contact the ISP in question of concern of the alleged copyright infringement, thus identifying the person's and the ISPs actual location and name/address/etc, and then the case can proceed once all this additional information is figured out. All the judge is saying is he doesn't have any proof that this IP belongs to a Florida resident, and that the evidence is not enough to warrant the judge to order any type of "discovery" of information or to force the ISP to provide additional information about the owner of the IP or the particular computers which may have been used to download the copyrighted content.

If the plaintiff comes back once all this has been figured out through other means then most likely the case will not be dismissed so easily.

Re:lol. (1)

strstr (539330) | about 4 months ago | (#46571289)

Also I am guessing that this is the end over suing someone just based on their IP address, although the IP address is certainly going to be evidence if you can get the evidence through other means. You will possibly be taking another route to build the case sufficiently to convince a judge; you will be going to the FBI who has jurisdiction over copyright law and enforcement, which makes it a Class C Felony to violate copyright law, with punishment of upto 5 years in prison and $500,000 fines per violation. Once the FBI has built the case up and verified the violations occurred, a criminal conviction will take place and restitution can be ordered otherwise the evidence can be turned over to the copyright holder for lawsuit purposes. A wound be lawsuit filer could actually subpoena FBI testimony and records to convince a judge on who a particular IP address actually belonged to, and any respective evidence of the infringements.

Beside this, the company might actually have to take another route to prove his case: He will be suing say, "Comcast" in the State of their main operation, for the disclosure of identity of user and other evidential records, if Comcast refuses to provide information about a suspected copyright infringer. This will get enough evidence to prove who an IP address belonged to and perhaps open them up to liability over the content that was shared or downloaded over the persons connection.

There are many ways to sue a copyright infringer, and the media companies just have to do it the right way.. Nowadays the judges seem to want more evidence upfront to justify use of court order to get this stuff done, and to prove venue it seems. :B

Damnit X-Art (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571335)

X-Art happens to be a banner for some of the better porn these days. It's sexy, erotic, something you can watch with your partner without feeling bad, and doesn't have any bullshit camerman antics and almost no speech (if any). It's what could best be described as "classy porn".

But if this is how they want to go after folks instead of finding ways to entire people, then fuck em (not literally).

Good call. IP address is a number, not a person. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 4 months ago | (#46571623)

Aside from the fact that someone could hack my wifi, or malware could take control, anyone in my house can access my PC. That includes not just family, but occasionally friends as well. Of course I trust them, but the point is the IP address alone could not reliably identify the user.

lucky bastards (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 4 months ago | (#46571719)

In my country the owner of the ISP account is liable.

Re:lucky bastards (2)

hawkinspeter (831501) | about 4 months ago | (#46572371)

Does that apply to the actions of any children in the house as well? Does that mean that if a kid sent a raunchy selfie to someone using that IP address, the account owner could get prosecuted for producing kiddie porn?
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