A court has suddenly reversed its position, and says that many of the accused probably shouldn't have been identified to be sued in the first place.
It certainly seemed a fishy operation to begin with. Swiss firm Urmann and Colleagues was widely derided as "copyright trolls" after news broke that it had sent demands to some 30,000 Germans. Recipients were told they'd been caught viewing a handful of copyrighted titles on the porn streaming site RedTube, and would face a lawsuit if they didn't agree to pay a settlement.
It's far from clear that such activity is illegal in Germany. Viewing streaming, copyrighted content is usually seen as far less criminal than uploading content through a peer-to-peer network like BitTorrent, which is how copyright trolls in the U.S. usually nab their victims.
Judges in the Regional Court of Cologne have revoked a number of their orders to the alleged porn viewers, admitting that Urmann shouldn't have been able to directly contact those consumers, who'd only been identified by their Internet protocol (IP) addresses.
The court said it would issue a final ruling in January at the earliest.