Interesting legal rulings for mass torrent lawsuits

Some of you may be aware of the new attempt at en mass torrent lawsuits being filed based on the torrent swarm and the letters received wanting a couple thousand dollars settlement payment up front before any legalities are decided by a judge........here are some good judges rulings concerning these new lawyer tactics......


When judges refuse to allow many BitTorrent users to be joined in a single lawsuit, these cases become much more cost intensive. That is exactly what is happening.

The Roadblocks

Below we discuss three rulings and a procedural rule that vitally impacts the costs inherent in these lawsuits. They could spell doom for the profitability of the mass BitTorrent lawsuit scheme, bringing an end to a travesty of justice that has seen a grandmother, a blind man, and a dead person sued for alleged copyright infringement.

First, Judge Ryu of the Northern District of California ruled that defendants cannot be joined when they are from different swarms. Where two defendants downloaded the same copyrighted work, but did it via different torrents or on different trackers, they cannot be joined.

Second, Judge Zimmerman, also of the Northern District of California, ruled that BitTorrent users in the same swarm can only be joined if they are present in the swarm at the same time. If a defendant comes along a week later when another defendant is no longer part of the swarm, those defendants cannot be joined.

Third, multiple judges have raised the issue of jurisdiction. While jurisdiction is not a ruling, it requires adherence to certain laws of legal procedure. A US District Court can only hear cases concerning defendants that fall within its jurisdiction. Many judges have questioned how an IP-address from another part of the country could fall within the power of their district. This issue has prompted multiple judges to dismiss vast chunks of these BitTorrent lawsuits.

Fourth, Judge Baker of the Central District of Illinois ruled that an IP-address does not constitute a person.  He decided this in ruling on the issue of “good cause”, which is required for the court to issue a subpoena that allows the plaintiffs to discover the subscriber’s personal information associated with the IP address.  This is vitally important because without the information the plaintiffs have nowhere to send the settlement letters. 

In his ruling, Judge Baker stated that many of the IP addresses before his court could be associated with institutions like universities, or even public wi-fi hotspots. Additionally, he expressed doubt that a subscriber was the likeliest person to be the infringer – “[it] might be…someone in the subscriber’s household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor…”




Naturally, if you download only open source software or non copyrighted media you have nothing to worry about.......unless someone else in your household or on your network does....then you get the attorney letter.........

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Comment by bonnie on September 18, 2011 at 12:17pm
uriel, remember, the Supreme Court recently ruled that corporations are "people."
Comment by bonnie on September 18, 2011 at 12:26pm
uriel, it does, but this blog seems to show that there is still some hope.  Some of the judiciary seems to be careful to not allow the abuse of power within the judicial system that others are allowing.


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