New York magistrate judge Gary Brown blasted copyright trolls Frederic Abramson and Aaron Kotzker, who were acting on behalf of pornographers Malibu Media and K-Beech, delivering a 26-page Order & Report & Recommendation that stopped just short of straight-out accusing the lawyers and their clients of criminal extortion. He started by describing the weak connection between IP addresses and identity:
John Doe #16 has stated that he was at work at the time of the alleged download. John Doe #2 states under oath that he closed the subject Earthlink account, which had been compromised by a hacker, before the alleged download. John Doe #29's counsel represents that his client is an octogenarian with neither the wherewithal nor the interest in using BitTorrent to download Gang Bang Virgins. John Doe #10 represents that downloading a copy of this film is contrary to her "religious, moral, ethical and personal views." Equally important, she notes that her wireless router was not secured and she lives near a municipal parking lot, thus providing access to countless neighbors and passersby…
And then he moved on to the trolls' demonstrated insincerity in actually desiring a court-fight, as their deeds had demonstrated that they weren't interested in the courts as a means of finding truth or justice, but merely as a threat to convince innocent people to pay them off just to be rid of them:
Upon receipt of the Complaint, I reached out to Plaintiff and spoke to a self-described "Negotiator" in an effort to see if I could prove to them (without the need for publicly tying my name to the Complaint) that I had nothing to do with the alleged copyright infringements. The Negotiator was offered unfettered access to my computer, my employment records, and any other discovery they may need to show that I was not the culpable party. Instead, the Negotiator refused and was only willing to settle the Complaint for thousands of dollars. While the Negotiator said on October 24, 2011 that he would check to see if he could come down from the thousands of dollar settlement amount, the Negotiator has not responded to two voice mails that were left on October 25, 2011. Notably, the Negotiator justified the settlement amount because, in part, I would incur legal fees in hiring an attorney.
There's more at Ars Technica, where Timothy B Lee reports further on the federal judge's skeptical critique:
The plaintiffs have tried to sue dozens of defendants in a single lawsuit in order to avoid paying the filing fees (usually $350 each) that would come with suing each defendant separately. They justify this approach by claiming that everyone who participated in a BitTorrent swarm for a single file was engaged in a single "conspiracy" to distribute this file.
Judge Brown found this line of argument unpersuasive. He noted that the BitTorrent protocol is fully automated, meaning that the various defendants had no personal contact with other members of a particular swarm. More importantly, he pointed out that some of the alleged infringements occurred days apart, making it unlikely their computers communicated with one another at all.
Given these facts, and the divergent defenses raised by the various John Does, Brown ruled that allowing an entire swarm to be sued in one lawsuit would "complicate these actions, resulting in waste of judicial resources."