What do you do if you get busted for pirating a terrible Adam Sandler movie? Deny it. That seems to be the lesson of a recently dismissed US federal case, which raises the burden of proof that copyright owner must meet in order to hold you accountable for infringement. TorrentFreak reports that Oregon District Court Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman dismissed a case against Thomas Gonzales, who was accused of illegally downloading Adam Sandler’s The Cobbler. Beckerman states that IP-addresses aren’t enough to prove that Gonzales was directly involved with copyright infringement.
You see, Gonzales runs an adult foster care home, and he wasn’t the only person with access to the internet. There’s simply no direct way to pinpoint that it was he who was guilty of the act. Beckerman argues that you can’t hold someone accountable for copyright infringement unless you can prove they did it.
The only facts Plaintiff pleads in support of its allegation that Gonzales is the infringer, is that he is the subscriber of the IP address used to download or distribute the movie, and that he was sent notices of infringing activity to which he did not respond. That is not enough.
This seems reasonable. There’s no guarantee that judges across the US or Australia will use the same standard, though.
Hollywood hasn’t and definitely won’t stop making attempts to get money from pirates who download their films and that’s fine. They have a right to protect their property, but at the same time, Hollywood must also have more to go on than just IP addresses as hard proof of accessing illegal content, especially since it’s hard to tell if it’s actually you doing the downloading in the location where you have internet access.
At least do better than The Cobbler.