According to TorrentFreak and documents coming from the Southern District Court of Florida, an IP address cannot be used to specifically identify an individual especially in a case of bringing a lawsuit against them for piracy. A supposed copyright holder looking to extract cash settlements from alleged BitTorrent pirates, Malibu Media, had their case dismissed based upon the fact that IP address evidence cannot without a reasonable doubt identify the person who actually downloaded the file.
Presiding judge Ursula Ungaro ruled that the accused IP address "18.104.22.168" obtained through a subpoena of the IP address’ information from the ISP could not be identified as the exact person who downloaded the file. And that even though they were able to find the exact location of the file downloaded, their methodology did not properly identify an individual that was personally responsible for downloading this file. The real truth of the matter is that the burden of proof on many of these companies bringing these copyright lawsuits is very little to none and many of them have gained their settlements purely as a result of scare tactics. Much of the information that they have obtained has mostly been through IP addresses and without a MAC address it is very hard to definitively identify who exactly was responsible for breaking the law.
The judge added in her dismissal that, "There is nothing that links the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing the Plaintiff’s videos, and establishing whether that person lives in this district." This judge clearly understands how file sharing and the internet works at least at a fundamental level and that such a scarce level of certainty cannot be used in bringing a suit against someone. Hopefully this case will establish some sort of a logical and reasonable precedent that other judges can follow when hearing such cases. The real truth is that if companies want to go after people for copyright infringement with massive lawsuits, their burden of proof is going to have to be a lot better than Malibu Media’s.
The documents below are compliments of TorrentFreak’s uploading: