MPAA Sues Man Over Movies It Can't Find
from the burden-of-proof dept
One big point of contention concerning most of the lawsuits filed by the entertainment industry against file sharers concerns the burden of proof. The entertainment industry wants people to believe that all they need to show is that an unauthorized file was shared from a specific IP address which was assigned to a certain account paid for by whoever it is they’re suing. Plenty of others question whether that’s enough. There are an awful lot of variables in there that suggest the entertainment industry hasn’t proved very much at all. First, they need proof that the file was actually infringing — just looking at the name clearly is not enough and can lead to embarrassments for the industry. Second, they need proof that it was actually distributed (just offering it up for sharing might not be enough — you can offer it, but if no one took it, have you actually distributed anything?). Third, there should be proof concerning who is actually at fault. An IP address doesn’t identify anyone. It simply tells you the account. There could be multiple computers and multiple users. While the entertainment industry seems to think the owner of the account must be responsible, some courts appear skeptical. If the industry really wants to stop the people who are guilty of copyright infringement, it would seem that they would need to be able to prove all of those factors before the defendant needs to state a defense. Instead, they’re going with their original plan, and it’s leading to some problems. We’ve already covered some of the recent lawsuits, but the latest, as pointed out by Slashdot, is a man who is being sued by Paramount for $100,000 on charges he shared a movie over eDonkey. There’s just one problem. Paramount checked out all of the guy’s computers (four of them) and the movie doesn’t appear to be on any of them. Paramount claims that the guy deleted the evidence — but, once again, wouldn’t it seem that the burden of proof should be on the movie industry to prove that, rather than baseless accusations? The guy, for his part, says he has no idea what happened and guesses that someone used his WiFi. He goes on to say this is a reason why you should secure your WiFi, but it’s more accurate to say it’s a reason why there’s plenty of reasonable doubt as to why he might be guilty.