Florida Judge Rejects IP Address As A Valid Identifier in Copyright Infringement Lawsuit

A Florida judge may have set a precedent when she threw out a case filed by Adult film company Malibu Media this week. Malibu filed a bulk lawsuit against an IP address and was seeking to have the courts subpoena the cable operator Comcast to turn over records on the individual connected to it.

But before the user at the IP in question or the service provider spent a dime on legal fees, the judge hearing the case tossed it out. US District Judge Ursula Ungaro tossed out the lawsuit Malibu filed against the user who allegedly downloaded one of its movies illegally, noting that there was no proof Malibu was even in the right venue, since "[t]here is nothing that links the IP address location to the identity of the person actually downloading and viewing Plaintiff's videos and establishing whether that person lives in this district."

Malibu tried to argue that the investigator it hired used geolocation technology that "has always been 100 percent accurate when traced to the Southern District of Florida." They went on to say that the IP was unlikely to have come from a public Internet point because it occurred at 5 AM.

"By directing its lawsuits at IP addresses from Comcast Cable, Plaintiff knows that almost always the IP address will trace to a residential address," argued Malibu lawyer Keith Lipscomb.

Ungaro rejected Malibu's argument and dismissed and closed the case. Ungaro also insisted that Malibu justify two other lawsuits against users identified only by IP addresses.

The ruling falls in line with one made by a New York judge who made such a ruling in a case called K-Beech v. John Does in 2012. The judge in that case ruled that the case must be re-filed against specific users, but unlike this one, he didn't throw out the case on venue grounds as Ungaro had done here.

If other judges adopt the same policy Malibu and other companies that seek to sue individuals using IP addresses, they could find themselves out of luck.

Source: Ars Technica

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