Careful Before You Threaten Litigation
Hell Hath No Fury Like....
Tanya Andersen is the feature player in a great article in the 5/5/2008 issue of BusinessWeek (see "Does She Look Like a Music Pirate?"). The gist of the story is that a number of recording industry players put a ton of pressure on a woman to settle for supposedly downloading recorded music illegally. Apparently, the industry had the wrong person and all because someone spoofed this woman's IP address.
The errant IP address triggered a cascade of arm-twisting, legal threats, attempts to collect a financial settlement and, eventually, a lawsuit from the recording industry. When Ms. Andersen got a good lawyer and some insight into who spoofed her IP address, things changed. The industry lawsuit was ruled in her favor and now she's suing back.
While I commiserate with the industry and its loss of revenues to illegal file sharing, I cannot abide strong-armed, inflexible techniques that lack appropriate discovery and due process protections. From what was written in this article, the industry used a blame first, collect second and thoroughly investigate third as its process. I think they got a few steps out of order.
There are currently a number of technology lawsuits pending these days that are relying on the identification of persons via IP addresses. Defense counsels will no doubt want to look at this case and see if similar mistakes were made in their situations.