January 23, 2014
In a surprisingly sane ruling Washington District Judge Robert Lasnik found that an IP address is not sufficient evidence of the identity of a copyright infringer. The case involved the B-movie Elf-Man, whose production company have gained notoriety through trollish attacks on people alleged to have downloaded the movie over bittorrent.
Ruling on a motion to dismiss filed on behalf of one of the defendants, Judge Lasnik notes that part (b) is not a valid claim.
“[The movie studio] has actually alleged no more than that the named defendants purchased Internet access and failed to ensure that others did not use that access to download copyrighted material,” Lasnik states.
In other words, the complaint itself states that the account holder may not be the person who downloaded the movie, which isn’t enough to pursue the case.
“Simply identifying the account holder associated with an IP address tells us very little about who actually downloaded ‘Elf-Man’ using that IP address,” Judge Lasnik writes.