Lawsuits against alleged file-sharers are a common occurrence in United States federal courts.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been accused in recent years, most after using standard BitTorrent clients.
More recently there’s been a specific focus on Popcorn Time users. They were targeted in a series of lawsuits this summer.
One of the cases was filed by the makers of The Cobbler, who listed the IP-addresses of several Popcorn Time users in their complaint. The goal of the filmmakers is to identify the account holders and settle the dispute out of court, which many have done already.
Recently, another Popcorn Time user settled with the movie studio. While the scale of the agreement was not disclosed they usually range between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.
The defendant in question was allowed to remain anonymous but admitted that her IP-address was indeed used to download and distribute the movie in question. To end the lawsuit, both parties agreed to a ‘consent judgment’ which was signed off by a District Court judge.
While this is a common procedure, Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman decided to make several crucial changes to the proposed permanent injunction, even though both parties already agreed on it.
Among the stricken parts is a line that would order the defendant to remove all BitTorrent clients from her computer and observe a ban on P2P software in the future (order: pdf).
“DOE-220.127.116.11 is hereby directed to immediately delete all unlicensed content in which Voltage has any rights or interest including plaintiffs motion picture, together with any and all BitTorrent clients on any computer(s) she owns or controls together with all other software used to obtain media through the Internet by peer-to-peer exchange,” it read.
In recent cases many other judges left this language intact, but for Judge Beckerman it appears to have gone too far.
In addition, the Judge also removed the line preventing the defendant from engaging in any infringing BitTorrent transfers in the future, limiting the scope of the permanent injunction only to titles to which Voltage Pictures holds the copyrights.
While the defendant still has to pay, the changes are important as it allows her to keep using BitTorrent and P2P software in general, which of course have many legitimate purposes as well.
It’s also good to see that judges are not blindly signing off on any order they see before them.