A California federal court judge has thrown a spanner into the works of serial copyright lawsuit filers Nu Image and Millennium Films, questioning the validity of using IP addresses as evidence in the case.
Nu Image and Millennium Films's latest copyright lawsuit involves the film Criminal, and as per the usual process, the production company gathered a publicly available IP address data for a potential pirate, linked them to a geographical location (in this case, San Diego County) via a IP/Geo search, and proceeded to locate the right jurisdiction for the lawsuit based on this information. A subpoena is then sought in the court to obtain the identity of the person who owned the IP address at the time.
It's this subpoena that California Magistrate Judge Mitchell Dembin refused to issue to the plaintiff, because according to the Judge, too much time had elapsed between the recording of the IP address, and the geolocation search, so much so, that the geolocation information obtained might be "irrelevant".
Showing excellent knowledge in regards to how IP addresses work, Judge Dembin correctly identified that IP address are usually allocated to users "dynamically", meaning that users might have a different IP address every time they go online (although in most situations, the IP address is only reassigned when the user disconnects to the ISP).
Judge Dembin also correctly argues that geolocation data based on IP addresses also change with time, and since Nu Image and Millennium Films did not provide details on when the geolocation search was performed, Judge Dembin felt that the correct jurisdiction had been established, and so no subpoena could be granted.
Recent court cases has seen IP address evidence scrutinized like never before, and this particular case appears to continue the trend towards accepting the nuances behind IP address evidence, as opposed to just taking the rights-holder's word on the validity of the evidence.