A federal judge in Pennsylvania has ruled that a movie downloading case will go to trial because it is unclear whether an IP address directly identifies a copyright infringer instead of simply the owner of an Internet account. Judge Michael Baylson noted,
Among other things, the declaration asserts that the BitTorrent software does not work in the manner plaintiff alleges, and that a mere subscriber to an ISP is not necessarily a copyright infringer, with explanations as to how computer-based technology would allow non-subscribers to access a particular IP address.
Malibu Media, the plaintiff, has initiated 43 lawsuits in Pennsylvania alone and 349 mass downloading lawsuits across the United States. The defendants accuse Malibu Media of extorting settlements from purported downloaders.
This case will be an interesting test of whether an IP can serve as adequate evidence of an individual copyright infringer. Over the last five years, various copyright enforcement firms, such as Copyright Enforcement Group (CEG TEK), US Copyright Group (Dunlap, Grubb, and Weaver), Prenda Law (John Steele), Mike Meier, and M. Keith Lipscomb, have filed mass copyright infringement lawsuits against defendants accused of downloading copyright infringing materials through BitTorrent websites.
We have defended numerous individuals in response to these lawsuits, so we will be watching this development carefully.