Court Says BitTorrent Users Connected To The Same Swarm Are Not Involved In Any 'Conspiracy'

from the good-ruling dept

Almost exactly a year ago, we saw yet another trick come out of the copyright troll’s bag. To justify the increasingly failed attempts to sue a ton of people in a single lawsuit, there was a claim that all of the people connected to a single BitTorrent swarm represented a conspiracy to infringe on copyrights together. As we said at the time, this seemed like an incredibly weak argument, and it appears that at least one court agrees. A judge in Illinois has rejected that argument pretty soundly:

Moreover, it appears that the claims of civil conspiracy themselves are unfounded, because the plaintiffs have not pleaded the existence of an agreement among the alleged conspirators… Additionally, based on what has been pleaded, it does not appear plausible that plaintiffs could plead the existence of a conspiracy. Consequently, the court finds that the complaints’ allegations of civil conspiracy are only unjustified attempts to bolster the obtaining of irrelevant discovery about non-parties.

The court also notes (as many more are doing) that it’s quite clear that this lawsuit was filed not to litigate the actual issues, but to uncover the identities of those they identified to try to threaten them into “negotiating a settlement.”

It’s good to see both of these things. Courts recognizing that these arguments are huge stretches of legal theory just to justify a bogus joinder argument is a huge step forward. On top of that, the fact that more and more judges seem well aware of the true intention of copyright trolls in using the court system as a part of their business model, rather than for a legitimate judicial reason, means that fewer and fewer courts will be willing to accept such an abuse of the court system.

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Comments on “Court Says BitTorrent Users Connected To The Same Swarm Are Not Involved In Any 'Conspiracy'”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

More fun failure for the trolls –
The trolls have tried to subpoena the other Does info by using Rule 27. The 4 targeted ISPs were so happy they sent lawyers to court. Comedy ensues.

And then a single Doe filing pro se managed to scare a troll so much they dismissed him with prejudice to stop the court from looking at more of his answer to the case. When you can show some serious irregularities with the copyright of an already copyrighted movie thats just been recut, they get nervous.

There are lots of fun filings floating around right now, the wheels of justice might be slow… but they are catching up.

Anonymous Coward says:

It appears that the judge is pretty much clueless about bittorrent technology. Downloading the software and searching for a particular file, accepting pieces from various people, and in turn offering those pieces to other people appears to be enough to show agreement. They are operating together, because a single bit torrent node with nobody else to connect to would be, well, useless.

Bittorrent is pretty much by definition a conspiracy, because you always require partners in crime to get it done.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Yes! Finally, someone who gets it!

Also, downloading a file from the internet is a conspiracy between the downloader, the uploader, the electric company, the internet service provider, the domain registrar, ICANN, and the producers of all the computers, keyboards, mice, routers, and cables involved.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Based on how the RIAA – in addition to their various PROs – believes everything is a public performance, if the recording industry went belly-up civilisation would grind to a halt because everyone is exposed to music.

Including the above rationale of the above shill, the illegitimate obtaining of media is therefore the fault of everyone in the world.

Yes – even the judges and the RIAA. How can you expect Edgar Bronfman Jr. not to discipline his own downloader children! (P.S.: He didn’t.)

MrWilson says:

Re: Re:

So let me get this straight. A bunch of rich companies get together to fix prices and reduce competition in the market from smaller companies and amateurs and this is just good ol’ God-fearin’ American capitalism?, but a bunch of anonymous strangers using technology they downloaded from the internet to share their own culture is a conspiracy?

Freedom is slavery, Winston.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Good luck trying to show “intent” and “agreement” LoL

Since I don’t think you are very familiar with the law have a look.


The main elements that need to be proven are a voluntary agreement to participate and some overt act by one of the conspirators in furtherance of the criminal plan.

USLEGAL: Conspiracy definition

thefreedictionary: Conspiracy

I want to see you show how all those people were aware of the illegality of the alleged acts.

Assuming they all are criminals won’t fly in any court hopefully ever, you need to show somehow they all had intent and agreed to commit a crime, you could probably show that if you could show that they visited suspicious location and got the torrent from a well known illegal website otherwise you are out of luck.

Doesn’t you love the ambiguity of the law?

abc gum says:

Re: Re:

“Bittorrent is pretty much by definition a conspiracy”

Since you are the expert in all things … exactly what is contained within the files that these ne’er-do-wells are accused of conspiring to share and how are you verifying said contents is actually infringing? Or is it simply assumed to be infringing because it is on P2P? Certainly there is no P2P content which does not infringe – amirite?

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The judge is clueless. Right. Look in the mirror please.

A single bittorrent node with nobody else to connect to is usually called the first seeder waiting for the peers because a torrent can only be created if the peer has the content.

Of course, it can always be a dead torrent with a lone peer waiting with hope for a generous seeder 😉

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