Recently, several federal judges have ruled that key information—computer internet protocol (IP) addresses—used by film studios and others to target supposed thefts is insufficient proof to proceed with the lawsuits. And copyright experts say that even though companies are still winning lots of settlements, these firms are going after fewer plaintiffs at once than they were a few years ago. This suggests that their ability to pursue large piracy cases has been hampered.
The name connected to an IP address usually identifies who is the paying the internet bill, not who is doing the downloading. Ten years ago, most people didn't use wireless routers at home, but now, more than 60 percent of people do. And all the computers using a single wireless router have the same IP address. So if your tech-savvy neighbor is piggybacking off your wireless internet—and illegally downloading Mean Girls—you could take the heat. And Stoltz, from the Electronic Frontier Foundation, points out that when people receive settlement letters, they are often scared into paying up—"even when they didn't download illegally, or had valid defenses."
After a SWAT team broke down the door and tossed a couple of flashbangs into the entryway, they realized they'd gotten the wrong place. The home had an open wifi router. The threats were coming from down the street.
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