The booming industry of legal P2P trolls have just received a huge setback in the US.
For a while legal outfits have been seeing an IP address on a torrent cloud and contacting the ISP where the address is hosted. They then get a court order demanding that details of the IP address be handed over to them so that the fileshare can be sued. They usually do not sue, but instead get an out of court settlement and split the cash with the movie studios.
However that will be turned around after U.S. Judge Harold Baker has ruled that IP addresses aren't people. He denied a Canadian porn company VPR subpoenas for personal information in a copyright infringement lawsuit. Judge Baker noted that the embarrassment of public exposure might be too great, the legal system too daunting and expensive, for some to ask whether VPR has competent evidence to prove its case.
The judge mentioned a recent Buffalo case about an unsecured router. The FBI conducted a raid against a man they thought guilty of distributing child pornography. It turned out that his 25-year-old neighbor was the culprit and had been piggybacking of the innocent homeowner’s wireless connection. Since it was possible that a copyright infringer might just be piggybacking in the same way, and could be a neighbour or even someone parked out on the curb. If that was the case the IP address isn’t sufficient evidence to invade their privacy over the un-named people.