Most copyright holders who start legal action aren’t looking to go to court. They’re looking for out-of-court settlements; easy money. Many copyright-focused lawsuits are started en masse, with little more than IP addresses to identify the plaintiffs. For instance, Malibu Media, an adult-movie studio, has started 349 mass lawsuits in 2012 alone, with all of them ending in out-of-court setllements. Except for five anonymous defendants who filed a motion that these lawsuits were primarily for extortion and did not accurately describe how BitTorrent woks. Pennsylvania District Court Judge Michael Baylson has written a memorandum that, ultimately, “a trial are necessary to find the truth.” To court we go! According to the memo:
Each of the John Does is identified only by an internet protocol (“IP”) address assigned by an ISP, as set forth in Exhibit A to each Complaint…Among other things, the declaration asserts that Plaintiff has brought suit againstnumerous unnamed defendants simply to extort settlements, that the BittTorrent software doesnot work in the manner Plaintiff alleges, and that a mere subscriber to an ISP is not necessarily acopyright infringer, with explanations as to how computer-based technology would allow non-subscribers to access a particular IP address. In other words, according to the declaration, there isno reason to assume an ISP subscriber is the same person who may be using BitTorrent todownload the alleged copyrighted material.
The case will go to a bellwether trial with the defendants anonymous. It could set a legal precedent. To read the whole memo go here.