Judge Realizes That Nearly All Of The 23,322 People Sued By US Copyright Group Aren't In Its Jurisdiction

from the nicely-done dept

While many courts had pretty clearly rejected attempts by various mass lawsuit filing “anti-piracy” law firms to sue a ton of people in a single lawsuit, we were surprised and dismayed back in May to see one judge allow subpoenas to go out on all 23,322 IP addresses sued by US Copyright Group over file sharing on the movie The Expendables. Considering how many courts had challenged such bundling, it was truly surprising that this court allowed it. However, after making that initial ruling, the judge noted that “several issues… have recently come to light regarding this case,” and changed his mind. He pointed to the serious jurisdictional questions, considering that most of those sued were probably not in the DC area and ordered USCG to show why the jurisdiction was proper.

Apparently it failed to do so. The judge has now said that the vast majority of the IP addresses in the lawsuit do not appear to originate from the DC area and thus should not be in the lawsuit. TorrentFreak calculates that 23,238 of the 23,322 IP addresses appear to originate from elsewhere. Nice to see another judge recognize the problems of such mass lawsuit filings with little basis, even if he came a little late to it.

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Companies: us copyright group

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Comments on “Judge Realizes That Nearly All Of The 23,322 People Sued By US Copyright Group Aren't In Its Jurisdiction”

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24 Comments
Nicedoggy says:

This whole debate gave me an idea, since the MAFIAA is already putting the liability to third party as acceptable and politicians and judges are warming up to it, could we make politicians, lawyers and judges responsible for things too?

– No lawyer should defend the guilty if they do so they shall receive the same punishment the guilty one did, for being accessories, accomplices and so forth.

– Judges should never make a mistake they should know if somebody is innocent or not and be responsible for all their mistakes and punished accordingly, for example if the party is guilty of something and it is found to be innocent the judge should go to jail for being and accomplice.

– Any politician that pass a law that is unlawful or will lead to any(and I mean any) loss of revenue to anybody should be punished by the law when they step down from office, which should be soon, there should be a political process to remove those people from office.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

I think the Judge was very forgiving.
Considering the lawyers specifically left out 1 paragraph about using geoLocation so they could claim it was impossible, and the Judge found that paragraph and pointed it out to them. Geolocation is not fullproof, but it is much more accurate then they lead the court to believe.

The problem is once they have the names, they will just sit on the case until a Judge tells them to put up or shut up. The main reason they keep the case open is to keep threatening the account holders with being named. Even if they dismiss the case, no one makes them give up the list of names. They keep working the list, threatening to file suit unless you pay up now.

It would be nice for a Judge after seeing these other “issues” (read lies) in these cases, get an outside review of the technology before signing off again. That they understand that these numbers point to an account holder, who may or may not know anything about the alleged infringement. But these account holders are increasingly being told they are as liable as if they left a gun where a child could get it, and opt to pay rather than try to fight a system completely stacked against them.

I am guessing that Google is happy they will not be named in this suit. After all one of their Public DNS (8.8.8.8) appeared on the list.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yeah, but wait. Either IP addresses are reliable or they are not. What the judge has said here is that the IP addresses are more than enough to determine jurisdictional control, so in turn it lends crediblity to them as a evidence.

I expect to see cases filed in each of the major districts to cover these people, now that the judge has said the geo data is valid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You are stretching quite a bit to make that conclusion….

The Judge did NOT say that ID addresses are credible evidence for identifying a person or responsible party, only the jurisdiction that the IP address was in.

You live in New York City, I live in New Jersey, saying we both live in New York State is a valid statement, but from that statement you can’t reasonably determine where we each live, only that we are both in the state.

See the difference? I didn’t think so….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The Judge did NOT say that ID addresses are credible evidence for identifying a person or responsible party, only the jurisdiction that the IP address was in.

What Judge Wilkins actually wrote:

It therefore appears that while these geolocation services are not 100% accurate, these services can place a user no farther away than a city that borders the user?s actual location. Thus, the Court finds that the Plaintiff has a good faith basis to believe a putative defendant may be a District of Columbia resident if a geolocation service places his/her IP address within the District of Columbia, or within a city located within
30 miles of the District of Columbia.

(Emphasis in original.)

So it appears the judge really might be confusing the location of the IP address with the location of the user. It depends on how he is reading the word “can” (in ?can place a user no farther away?), and whether he is reading it as “do place a user”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

At the stage of filing a complaint, the plaintiff (or plaintiff’s attorney) need only believe, after a reasonable pre-suit investigation, that the court has personal jurisdiction over the defendant based on the existing law or a good faith argument for extension of the law.

The judge appears to be saying that if a geolocation service puts the defendant within 30 miles of D.C., that is a reasonble basis for believing the D.C. court has personal jurisdiction and filing the suit. It doesn’t mean that’s ironclad evidence for any other purpose.

At least, that’s my take on it.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

This current ruling merely reminds the lawyers that they need to pursue infringes in the proper venue, rather than pretend it is impossible. These mass suits are about saving money, and having to file proper cases would cut into their profits from this shakedown scheme.

IP address geolocation is acceptable to determine if the accused is within the courts jurisdiction.
The mass filing firms all have stated that there is no way to tell where an IP address is geographically located, so instead dump tens of thousands of addresses on one court.
This Judge read a paragraph cited in the filing, that was omitted (mysteriously) that did not support that claim.

As to them being evidence, the simple fact that 8.8.8.8 was named as a John Doe infringing copyright should be used to toss the entire case for flawed evidence. 8.8.8.8 is a public DNS maintained and run by Google Inc.

A quick check of the software running the server should answer if 8.8.8.8 was EVER running a bittorrent client. Considering the liabilities Google has faced globally my money is on No.

If these IP address dumps are to be considered as evidence of a crime, and it is so poorly gathered that a service that never operated a bittorrent client, one has to wonder if the actual gathering of the data is flawed.

An analogy.
We saw a blue car drive away from the scene of the crime, we want to have the names and addresses of everyone who owns a blue car.
We think the car had a license plate from your state, but there is no way to tell.
So just give us everything, and the innocent people will have nothing to fear.

Except the lawyers very carefully construct their letters to terrify the recipients, who do not have legal degrees and are priced out of being able to maintain legal counsel. They assume lawyers must tell the truth, so the statements being made are correct. These lawyers demand payment or they will publicly accuse you of being a thief, and ruin your reputation based on evidence that thinks a DNS is a downloader.

But this is “Discovery” where they are to investigate, and the “investigation” consists of sending a demand letter, harassing phone calls, making you believe you are liable for another persons actions (even if done without your permission or consent).

“It is a nice house, it would be a shame if anything happened to it.” Dressed up with a law degree and a suit.

Considering USCG is suing an account holder, who does not own a computer, as someone who infringed copyright by using bittorrent it should become quite clear they want money not justice. They want people to meekly pay up based on accusations that are founded on questionable “evidence”. They do not want to bring to justice those people who infringed on the precious copyright, they want someone who can cash advance enough money to make them rich.

Anonymous Coward says:

Enforcing these nefarious copy protection laws would practically require going after everyone, and it would greatly upset a HUGE portion of the population, which would cost the govt – industrial complex a whole lot more than what it gains from establishing these laws, and so what this boils down to is the fact that it’s too costly and will create too much resistance to go after everyone for committing victimless crimes/torts.

Face it, this is just like the war on drugs (high penalties never work and you can’t jail everyone). Everyone who wants pirated content can get (and already has) pirated content, with or without the Internet. It’s impossible to stop, or even to create any noticeable deterrence.

The only thing left to do now is to abolish patents.

Anonymous Coward says:

I think this is the best way to deal with suits like these (rather than some sort of improper joinder argument).

You don’t get to sue people wherever the hell you want unless you have some reason to believe they are subject to personal jurisdiction in that locale.

Also, requiring proper service of process has been used as a tool by at least on of the D.C. judges to make the plaintiff put up or shut up.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re:

And other DC Judges have ruled that the Does have no standing to stop the release of the records of their account from the ISP. So records about you, but you have no right to privacy based on the magic 8 ball IP gathering.

So it would fall to the ISPs to fight for their customers, but hey they have a new stream of revenue looking up these requests – ChaChing!

They accept these filings as being accurate when it has been shown in several cases the addresses gathered are bogus, but they keep rubber stamping these requests.

Then when the case is open past the legal limit of put up or shutup the Judges drag their feet about demanding to know why no cases have been filed, or dismissing the case all together.

Maybe it would be better to get Congress to finally separate commercial from noncommercial file sharing in the law. If the max award for infringing was capped at 2 x the retail price do you think these suits would continue?

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