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  1. Don’t they simply go after the person LEGALLY tied to the IP adress (the account holder). I don’t think they have to prove you did it, they simply have to prove that your internet was used for this purpose, although I’m not sure.

    • If your car is used for a bank robbery, or someone stabs someone else in your yard, are you responsible? This is the same problem behind trying to say that an IP address is a person. It simply isn’t. Internet access is effectively a rented information pathway, and much like the street in front of your home, it’s possible for things to happen there that have nothing to do with you, and it wouldn’t be fair to tag someone with liability when the limit of their involvement was being the owner of a driveway.

  2. As a rightsholder myself I follow these cases pretty closely. I have suits actively going on at this time and I’ve attended various hearings, settlement conferences and trials over the past 3 years.

    You make some great points here. But, in my experience I’ve learned that the IP address is just one of many, many things that are brought forward. It might be important in the beginning – such as to locate the home or business it is assigned to – but once thats done, other things come into play.

    Once notified of the dispute defendants have a legal duty to preserve all evidence that may be relevant to the dispute. Yes, many will claim that the hard drive suddenly crashed they day they got served the lawsuit – but they better keep the bad drive to prove it. And, the Plaintiff (rightsholder) has the right to examine that drive and the new drive and all CDs in the house, etc.

    That alone narrows it down to the computer owner most of the time. Just looking at the computer.

    And, if he changed the computer (drives, whole system, whatever) after being notified of the potential suit (not just a real suit being filed), it creates an issue of Spoliation ( This is always looked at in the light most favorable to the Plaintiff. If the guy tried to hide something – it is automatically assumed he was hiding something that would prove him guilty.

    Next, there are many other things that are done in prep for trials. While you list a few things, like computer being unlocked while you are away from it. Sure, a defendant can say that on the stand under oath (penalty of perjury) if he wants but thats sort of the “dog ate my homework” type of story and most judges or juries would believe it. Its a risk trying to defend a suit on a lie.

    Its not like Law & Order. In civil cases the bar is much lower as far as “proof” is concerned. Its not the old “Beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. Its lower.

    Lastly, please remember that if a rightholder or law firm has tracked a person down and invested money up to that point – they are very unlikely to just stop when the defendant says “its wasn’t me it was my open wi-fi and the kid next door”.

    They’ll investigate the kid next door. He and his parents will bounced it right back.

    I know of one case where they hired a detective to watch the guy. It wasn’t bit-torrent but it was an open trading forum. They simply log the guys posts. None made while he was at work, dozens made when home, none while on drive to McDonalds, more when back with his Quarter Pounder, none while taking his kid to basketball, more made when home from the game, etc.

    All I’m trying to say is the the IP address is just one lead they use. There are many more ways to show whom is the party at the keyboard – some that are in ways kept secret and surprised me when I learned of them.

    • Thank you very much for the informative and insightful response. This is the kind of reply I was hoping to attract with this post. I greatly appreciate you taking the time to type all of that out for us.

      On my guide at I briefly mention the principle of spoilation of evidence (though I don’t call it that since it’s a layman’s guide) with the phrase “Once your property is subpoenaed in a court case, you can be charged with a serious criminal offense if you tamper with any potential evidence, so performing these steps as soon as possible is vital to damage control.” I would personally be interested in knowing this distinction: does the spoilation attach when your computer or other property are subpoenaed, and if not, when does it attach?

      Also, I am fully aware that the IP address is only a portion of a well-researched copyright infringement case, and I think some readers may have interpreted this as meaning I didn’t know that. Most of my writing is about “copyright trolling,” not legitimate and narrowly targeted infringement cases. I write software and that also makes me a rightsholder, and I know that if I could reasonably prove that someone who was no longer working for me or paying a licensing fee for the use of my specialized software was using it anyway, I’d certainly enforce my copyright in a courtroom. My issue is that the uploaders are where the real issue lies, and targeting individual downloaders is like shutting the fence once the cows are all out of it.

        • The Dude
        • Posted October 22, 2014 at 2:59 pm
        • Permalink

        Great info. I just got internet suspended but turned back on because I was told a certain record label saw songs downloaded though the IP address. I haven’t got a letter or anything yet. Any chance these copywrite trolls will actually come after me?

  3. a fireplace may melt hard drives

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  1. […] read the TorrentFreak post for more information. It’s pretty interesting to think about. I’ve already mused on the reasons why accurately resolving an IP address to an infringer is ne… and this is one more real-world nail in that coffin. The interesting part for me is that the […]

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