Judges Rule Geolocation Not Enough to Prosecute Pirates

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From Torrent Freak:

Two Californian judges have thrown up a roadblock for Malibu Media, the adult media publisher that files thousands of copyright lawsuits each year. Both judges have refused to grant a subpoena to expose the personal details of alleged pirates, arguing that the geolocation tools that linked the wrongdoers to their district are not sufficient in these cases.

While relatively underreported, many U.S. district courts are still swamped with lawsuits against alleged film pirates.

Malibu Media, the Los Angeles based company behind the ‘X-Art’ adult movies, is behind most of these cases. The company has filed thousands of lawsuits in recent years, targeting Internet subscribers whose accounts were allegedly used to share Malibu’s films via BitTorrent.

“The allegation that the IP address at issue likely resolves to a physical address in this District is not supported in any of the declarations filed in connection with the instant motion”

Like all copyright holders Malibu collects file-sharers’ IP-addresses as evidence. They then ask the courts to grant a subpoena, forcing Internet providers to hand over the personal details of the associated account holders.

In most cases the courts sign off on these requests, but two recent orders from the Southern District of California show that matters aren’t always as straightforward.

In a recent case, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin was not convinced that geolocation tools are good enough to prove that the alleged pirate resides in the Court’s district. As a result, he denied Malibu’s request for a subpoena.

“The allegation that the IP address at issue likely resolves to a physical address in this District is not supported in any of the declarations filed in connection with the instant motion,” Judge Dembin writes.

“In its Memorandum of Point and Authorities filed in support of this Motion, Plaintiff again asserts that it employed geolocation technology to trace the physical address of the offending IP address within this jurisdiction, and adds the name of the software employed, but again provides no evidentiary support for its assertions,” he adds (pdf).

Malibu had provided the court with a lengthy memorandum (pdf) explaining how it traced the IP-address to California. Among other things, the company pointed out that it uses a geolocation database from Maxmind, which it believes to be accurate 99% of the time.

 

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