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Verizon Won't Identify Alleged BitTorrent Pirates

TorrentFreak reports that Verizon Wireless is refusing to hand over the information of its subscribers to book publisher John Wiley and Sons. The latter company is currently filing suit against alleged BitTorrent pirates based on obtained IP addresses.

The suit is one of many that the publisher has filed in the U.S. since the fall of 2011. John Wiley and Sons is the first book publisher to go after alleged pirates, and it's one of many copyright holders that have sued a quarter of a million people since early 2010, suits based on IP addresses that have either been thrown out of court, or have bullied alleged pirates into settling out of court.

Up until Wiley's latest lawsuits involving Verizon, the New York federal court has been quick in subpoenaing Internet providers to cough up personal details of account holders linked to IP addresses. Wiley has been able to approach defendants with this evidence and settle matters out of court. But Verizon if refusing to cooperate, saying that Wiley is demanding the information for improper purposes.

"[Wiley intends] to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation," the Big Red stated.

Verizon also stated its doubts that a subpoena will lead to the discovery of "relevant information." Essentially the company is saying that BitTorrent downloads linked to an IP address doesn't necessarily mean that the subscriber is guilty of piracy -- someone else could have accessed the Internet through that IP using a different device.

Verizon's view is one of many that are beginning to echo down the halls of America's court system. Just recently Judge Gary Brown in the United States District Court of the Eastern District of New York ruled that the person paying for Internet access might not be the individual downloading illegally obtained content.

"The assumption that the person who pays for Internet access at a given location is the same individual who allegedly downloaded a single sexually explicit film is tenuous, and one that has grown more so over time," he wrote last week. "An IP address provides only the location at which one of any number of computer devices may be deployed, much like a telephone number can be used for any number of telephones."

"Thus, it is no more likely that the subscriber to an IP address carried out a particular computer function – here the purported illegal downloading of a single pornographic film – than to say an individual who pays the telephone bill made a specific telephone call," he added.

Judges have started to lean towards the "IP-address-does-not-identify-the-pirate" mentality when a man's home was raided once federal agents linked child pornography to his IP address. After conducting a search and obtaining the man for questioning, he was eventually released and deemed innocent. The feds finally discovered that his home network was not secured, and that a neighbor was leeching off his Internet access to download the material.

In addition to Verizon's two points of view, the company is also refusing to release information to the book publisher due to five other objections, one of which claims that Wiley is seeking “information that is protected from disclosure by third parties’ rights of privacy and protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.”