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IP address is not enough for copyright-trolling in Spain

Written by Samuel O'Toole on 13 November 2017

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Copyright trolls have been making vast amounts of money by arming themselves with IP addresses and targeting BitTorrent users. The users of BitTorrent, that are alleged to have infringed copyright, are then offered the chance to pay a hefty settlement fee or have their day in court.  

This method of intimidating individuals to pay a settlement fee has been going for some time and over quite a distance. Copyright trolls have been reported as operating in Australia, Germany Denmark, Finland, the UK, the US, and more recently Spain.

In Spain, the rights holders of the film Dallas Buyers Club went after alleged pirates in Bilabo and San Sebastian. It should be noted that these particular rights holders are a part of a group of copyright trolls that like to expand their business to other countries.

However, it appears that a recently targeted individual has had some sense not to pay the settlement fee. In the Commercial Court of Donostia, where the claim was issued after the settlement fee not paid, Judge Pedro José Malagón Ruiz found that identifying an alleged pirate by way of an IP address was not good enough.

Spanish lawyer, David Bravo, explained that “The ruling says that there is no way to know whether the defendant was the P2P user or not, because an IP address only identifies the person who subscribed to the Internet connection, not the user who made use of the connection at a certain moment,” and “A relative or a guest could have been using the network, or even someone accessing the wifi if it was open,”

The Judge agreed with the defence in that there was no evidence that the defendant purposely made the film available.

Judge Malagón Ruiz states that “The upload of the data from the P2P programs occurs automatically by the program configuration itself. […] This occurs by default without requiring the knowledge or intention of the user,”

This is clear victory for alleged Spanish copyright pirates, unfortunately, the case will have little impact on the UK’s courts. 

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