The copyright lobbyist argument that an IP address linked to piracy allows them to not only force an ISP to hand over customer details, but that the owner of the address is legally liable, is falling apart at the seams. Yesterday it was revealed that a Finnish judge said a Wi-Fi owner was not liable for one of the 100 guests at her party illegally downloading material and now a US judge has made it clear that an IP address can't even identify a state.
This ruling alone brought an end to 15 separate lawsuits, also declaring the act of piracy as an "exercise in free speech, albeit to a limited extent". This means that in order to try a person in their home state - the only way that these trials are allowed by other judges - it must be proven beyond reasonable doubt where they reside. However, Judge Pregerson also stated in his ruling that current geolocation tools based upon IP addresses were not enough to signify a true location.
"Even if the most advanced geolocation tools were simply too unreliable to adequately establish jurisdiction, the court could not set aside constitutional concerns in favor of Plaintiff's desire to subpoena the Doe Defendants' identifying information.
"Again, it is the First Amendment that requires courts to ensure complaints like this one would at least survive a motion to dismiss, before the court authorizes early discovery to identify anonymous internet users."
Due to the fact that no geolocation tool is 100 per cent accurate, this essentially brings an end to mass bittorrent lawsuits in California and provides an excellent citation for other judges elsewere in America and throughout the world. The future of file sharing lawsuits could be in serious jeopardy - though if bills like CISPA are passed, perhaps not.