There are a lot of bittorrent related lawsuits ongoing in the US at the moment, with the potential for that trend to spread here in the UK as well. However, they could hit a bit of a roadblock in future thanks to a ruling by New York Judge Gary Brown, who stated categorically that an IP address was not enough to identify a copyright infringer.
An IP address is often the only evidence given to a court by copyright lobbyists, which then attempt to obtain a subpoena to allow them to get further details from Internet service providers. The problem that Judge Brown has identified, is that often times the people linked with the IP address - usually the home owner - are not the individuals that have downloaded the protected content. Perhaps it was a spouse, or a friend or a child, there is no way to tell.
On top of his game-changing ruling, Judge Brown also called mass torrent lawsuits a "waste of judicial resources" and recommended other judges throw any similar cases out in the future.
This provides a fantastic reference point for other judges dealing with similar cases. It could potentially lead to the end of this sort of lawsuit, where thousands of accused persons are brought into the courtroom to face huge fines for downloading or sharing copyright protected material.
That's a pipe dream for many, but one that seems a little closer now that a judge has made a legal precedent for something that has been considered common sense for some time.