When a judge makes a good decision, it shouldn't be news. But, in this case, it's very good news indeed. This week New York Magistrate Judge Gary Brown for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York filed a 26-page ruling pointing out that the person listed as an Internet account holder is often not the person using the account.
"It is no more likely that the subscriber to an IP address carried out a particular computer function–here the purported illegal downloading of a single pornographic film–than to say an individual who pays the telephone bill made a specific telephone call," Brown said in his Order & Report & Recommendation, filed May 1.
"An IP address merely identifies the location where a certain activity occurred", Brown noted. A computer in a household is usually shared, which means a child, a boyfriend, or any other visitor, is just as likely to be using the computer. Brown also noted that many households now have a wireless network. If the network is not secured, many people, including neighbors and strangers, can be sharing that IP address without the original account holder's knowledge.
"Considering the weak relationship between an IP address and personal identity, it's likely copyright holders were accusing the wrong people of violating copyright", Brown noted. Mass-BitTorrent lawsuits relying entirely on IP addresses to identify copyright infringers were a "waste of judicial resources," he wrote.
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In another astonishing development in the Megaupload saga, a judge in New Zealand’s High Court has declared the order used to seize Kim Dotcom’s assets as “null and void”. The blunder, which occurred because the police applied for the wrong type of court order, means that the Megaupload founder could have his property returned.
Just when it seemed that the handling of the Megaupload case couldn’t get any more controversial, a development from New Zealand has taken things to the next level.
Following the raids on Kim Dotcom’s mansion in January, police seized millions of dollars worth of property belonging to the Megaupload founder. But thanks to a police blunder, he could now see all of those assets returned.
On Friday, Justice Judith Potter in the High Court declared the order used to seize Dotcom’s property “null and void” after it was discovered that the police had acted under a court order that should have never been granted.
The error dates back to January when the police applied for the order granting them permission to seize Dotcom’s property. Rather than applying for an interim restraining order, the Police Commissioner applied for a foreign restraining order instead, one which did not give Dotcom a chance to mount a defense.
According to New Zealand Herald, on January 30th prosecution lawyer Anne Toohey wrote to the court explaining that the wrong order had been applied for and detailed five errors with the application.
Justice Potter said that police commissioner Peter Marshall tried to correct the error by applying for the correct order after the raids were completed and retrospectively adding the items already seized.
Although the correct order was eventually granted albeit on a temporary basis, Potter said she will soon rule on whether the “procedural error” will result in Dotcom having his property returned.
The Crown is arguing that since the new order was granted the earlier error no longer matters, but Dotcom’s legal team framed it rather differently by describing the seizure of assets as “unlawful”.
Whether the assets are returned will rest on Dotcom’s legal team showing a lack of “good faith” in connection with the blunder. A hearing to decide if the assets will be returned will take place next week.
In an ironically Orwellian move, on July 17, 2009 Amazon.com remotely deleted illegally-sold copies of George Orwell's "1984" and "Animal Farm" from its customer's Kindle e-book readers.
This issue is unique to electronic goods, so it's important to parse the words carefully. The books were indeed sold illegally through, and by, Amazon.com. The legitimacy of the purchases, however, does not seem to be in question. The Kindle owners made a legal purchase, of an item that was not legal for Amazon.com to sell in the United States.
The electronic books that Amazon sold are in the public domain in Canada and Australia, but not in the United States. Effectively, works in the public domain belong to the public. What can be confusing, however, is that something in the public domain--or free to use-- in one country, may not be public domain in another. Naturally, an Amazon.com purchaser might simply assume--considering that Amazon requires their billing address to make a purchase--that the item they were purchasing was neither free, nor illegal to purchase
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“Anything using RF energy — we have the right to inspect it to make sure it is not causing interference,” says FCC spokesman David Fiske.
According to Wired:
The FCC claims it derives its warrantless search power from the Communications Act of 1934, though the constitutionality of the claim has gone untested in the courts. That’s largely because the FCC had little to do with average citizens for most of the last 75 years, when home transmitters were largely reserved to ham-radio operators and CB-radio aficionados. But in 2009, nearly every household in the United States has multiple devices that use radio waves and fall under the FCC’s purview, making the commission’s claimed authority ripe for a court challenge.
Judge: Copyright Owners Must Consider 'Fair Use' Before Sending Takedown Notice
"A federal judge rules that copyright owners must first consider "fair use" before sending takedown notices to online video-sharing sites like YouTube requiring removal of clips. Universal Music argued it could send a takedown notice even if a posting qualified as a fair use of a copyright."