I just read that in the US, District Court Judge Harold Baker has decided that you are not necessarily your IP address. In the case in question a Canadian pornography company was trying to have an IP address supoenaed through an ISP as the IP address had been downloading porn illegally, assumedly through a torrent. Harold Baker ruled that allowing a copyright holder to bring a law suit against an IP address rather than a person was not fair. And in my mind this makes sense. I mean, more often than not if an IP address is pirating software, movies or music etc. then it is almost definitely the internet subscriber but it could be a member of their family or one of their friends. Or if you are enough of a deadshit to use an unsecured wifi network it would be some bloke sitting in his car on the street, or your neighbours. Our buddy Harold mentioned in his ruling a case in which US police raided the wrong house because the neighbours of the IP address in question were piggybacking the wifi and downloading child porn.
Apparently when an IP address is subpoenaed the copyright holder rarely intends to take the matter to court, but would much rather save the time and money of the case by bending you over a barrel and molesting an out of court settlement from you. Baker didn't want his court room used to shake money out of hypothetical criminals who are possibly only guilty of subscribing to an internet plan, most of these people are unable to front the money to defend themselves from larger companies, not without taking out a second mortgage I'd wager. I personally think that this is the right ruling, how would you like to get hauled over the coals because one of your mates or relatives illegally downloaded content from your IP? This case might well set a precedent in future cases, or because it involved porn it may not be cited by other more uptight judges. Guess we'll have to wait and see.