Judge Rules IP Addresses Aren't People, Blocking Subpoenas

In a decision that could have long-term implications for cybercrime prosecution, a U.S. District judge ruled that IP addresses do not directly represent people, and thus aren’t fair criteria for copyright holders to subpoena individuals.

TorrentFreak reports the case involved a Canadian porn company that’s trying to subpoena the ISPs of subscribers. The judge cited a case in which American authorities raided the wrong people in a child porn investigation because the actual suspects were swiping the victims’ Wi-Fi signal.

The judge wrote:

“The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber’s household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment.”

The judge noted that connecting IP addresses to individuals in porn cases could ruin the reputations of those who are falsely connected with the material.

A law expert quoted in the story says the ruling could affect future download-oriented lawsuits.

IP-Address Is Not a Person, BitTorrent Case Judge Says [TorrentFreak via Slashdot]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.