US Court Rules IP Address Not Enough to Identify Copyright Infringement

  • A pirate who was accused of downloading a movie won a copyright infringement case after being wrongly targeted.
  • The ruling was handed down by the Ninth US Court of Appeals stating that a shared IP address is not enough to identify a victim.
  • The case was filed in 2016 against adult foster care home owner Thomas Gonzales.

The Ninth Court of Appeals in the United States declared that an IP address is not enough to convict a person for copyright infringement. Thomas Gonzales, an adult foster care home owner, was wrongfully targeted by copyright trolls for downloading Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler. Gonzales also won $17,000 in a court of law.

The case was filed by a copyright troll after Gonzales’ IP address was picked up and was used for a lawsuit. Gonzales’ Comcast account was connected as a public Wi-Fi hotspot in the adult foster care establishment that he runs. Anyone using the Wi-Fi network could have downloaded the movie in question, and the court chose to dismiss the case.

Cobbler Nevada LLC is a known copyright troll, and it is not the first time the organization has tried to use a public Wi-Fi IP address to sue someone for copyright infringing activity. The ruling by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Margaret McKeown concluded the two-year case stating that there is no substantial evidence to make a claim that against the defendant. The judge ruled “In this copyright action, we consider whether a bare allegation that a defendant is the registered subscriber of an Internet Protocol (‘IP’) address associated with infringing activity is sufficient to state a claim for direct or contributory infringement. We conclude it is not.”

Future cases that are similar in nature may be affected by the ruling as well. Other courts may dismiss the case of copyright trolls who try to use just an IP address as proof to file lawsuits against random internet users. Multiple devices can be on the same network and have the same IP address on Wi-Fi connections, which makes identifying a culprit next to impossible.

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