Anti-piracy groups and lawyers across Europe are unmovable – they say that since they logged a copyright infringement from a particular IP address, the bill payer is responsible. Now a court in Rome has decided that on the contrary, an IP address does not identify an infringer, only a particular connection.
Right across Europe, many countries are being targeted by anti-piracy evidence gathered by outfits such as Swiss-based Logistep. After tracking alleged infringers, legal action is taken to force ISPs to hand over the identities of the person who pays the bill on the particular account linked to the allegedly infringing IP address. Lawyers operating in tandem with companies like Logistep, such as ACS:Law in the UK, insist that since they have an IP address, this automatically means that the bill payer is the copyright infringer or at least liable for the infringement.
Italy, which has seen its fair share of misery inflicted by Logistep and its partners Peppermint Jam, now has reason to be optimistic that these cynical, profit-motivated operations can be dampened down.
Although anyone with a basic knowledge of the Internet could come to the same conclusion given 30 seconds in a quiet room, the Tribunale Ordinario di Roma has now ruled that an IP address alone does not identify an infringer. According to a Punto Informatico report, on this basis the court kicked out a complaint against an individual accused of copyright infringement.
The District Attorney and judge said that the mere ownership of a connection from where an infringement took place is not sufficient to establish the identity of an infringer or liability of a defendant, especially since other people could have committed the alleged infringement.
In the UK right now, as many as 5,000 or more Internet bill payers are receiving letters through their doors from lawyers ACS:Law claiming that their Internet connection has been used to commit copyright infringement. TorrentFreak is in contact with many letter recipients and we are convinced that many people are being wrongfully accused for a multitude of reasons. Interestingly ACS:Law say that they do not necessarily claim that the bill payer committed the infringement, yet they still make threats and demand settlements for around £600 from that very individual.
They do this because they do not know and cannot prove who carried out the infringement, and simply hope that the bill payer feels responsible for what has happened and pays the settlement.
If it wasn’t clear before to some, it should be pretty clear now. As far as evidence goes, an IP address alone does not identify an infringer, merely a connection, and in the absence of additional evidence – such as that collected following an examination of the alleged infringer’s PC – it means little on its own.
Thank you Italy for your common sense.