A federal judge has ruled that copyright holders seeking to file suit against online pirates may not join multiple defendants into one suit, which might cause some headaches for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) who have widely used this tactic against filesharers. In a December ruling in Iowa, Judge Stephanie Rose decided that copyright holders should no longer be permitted to file a single piracy case against so many defendants at once.
Judge Rose, in a series of rulings regarding the movies “Killer Joe”, “Sibling” and “The Company You Keep”, found that a perceived link between multiple defendants was not justified saying “In the ‘Killer Joe’ cases the January defendants would have to be connected to the internet and still actively distributing data through the BitTorrent client approximately three months later to be involved in the same transaction as the April defendants, which is implausible at best” adding “Although each plaintiff has alleged that the defendants in each case were in the same swarm based on the same hash value, participation in a specific swarm is too imprecise a factor absent additional information relating to the alleged copyright infringement to support joinder”. She ruled that each case should be limited to one defendant because the plaintiffs have failed prove any guilt under the terms set out by the judge’s ruling as “Any ‘pieces’ of the work copied or uploaded by any individual [John] Doe may have gone to any other Doe, but may instead have gone to any of the potentially thousands of others who participated in a given swarm and are not in this case,” she wrote according to TorrentFreak.
Earlier this month we noted that a US federal judge in Washington, Robert Lasnick, ruled an individual’s IP address was not sufficient to actually implicate any particular person in copyright infringement - and that that IP address-only evidence fails to meet the pleading standards required to pursue for copyright infringement.