U.S. Judge Rules: 'An IP address is not a person'

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by RebelMan, May 9, 2011.

  1. RebelMan

    RebelMan Well-Known Member

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    Source: TechSpot.com
    Published: May 5, 2011, 3:31 PM EST

    In what could be a landmark decision, US Judge Harold Baker has ruled that an IP address is not adequate evidence to pin a crime on someone. For years, the recording industry has sued individuals for copyright infringement based solely on their IP address. This reached a new level when lawyers began collaborating with independent filmmakers to attack large quantities of suspected BitTorrent pirates.

    The lawyers logged the IPs of anyone sharing a specific item over BitTorrent. They'd get a court to force ISPs to reveal the account holders behind those IP addresses and those individuals would receive a letter requesting threatening legal action. The alleged pirates could pay a settlement fee ranging from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, or risk being hauled to court for $150,000 plus legal fees.

    Naturally, lawyers don't actually want to pursue legal action, they're just hoping to scare people into paying the settlement. This tactic has been against tens of thousands of pirates in the last year or so. In a similar case (VPR Internationale v. Does 1-1017), a Canadian adult film company sought a court's backing to demand customer data from ISPs -- a request declined by Judge Harold Baker.

    Baker ruled that IP addresses do not equal persons and cited a recent child pornography case where US authorities raided the wrong people because the true offenders were piggybacking on their wireless connection. "The infringer might be the subscriber, someone in the subscriber's household, a visitor with her laptop, a neighbor, or someone parked on the street at any given moment," he said.

    Cases involving pornography are especially delicate because the accused party might feel pressured into quick settlements in fear of the embarrassment that would follow if the case received public exposure. Baker said the court wouldn't support "fishing expeditions" for users' information without evidence that it has jurisdiction over the defendants. Hopefully this decision will prevent future shakedowns.

    At least one lawyer believes it will. Robert Cashman, a Texas attorney who represents defendants in similar cases, said "we may have just seen the order that may end all future John Doe lawsuits." "I have no doubt this ruling is the first of many to come, where the judges stop the plaintiff in their tracks by denying them access to the ISPs' subscriber records before a single subpoena is issued," he added.
     
  2. Red Alert

    Red Alert Security

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    Makes sense,


    Unless they start nailing everyone in the house.
     
  3. firehawc_69

    firehawc_69 cloppers = ignore list

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    Well that was the problem with the child porn case. It was the guy's neighbor using his wi-fi signal. The cops raided the wrong house.
     
  4. Waverider

    Waverider Supreme Dude TFW2005 Supporter

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    So they will be going after NIC addresses now.
     
  5. Fishdirt

    Fishdirt Tin Toy Transformer

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    Common sense much judicial system?

    If I wanted things that were illegal to download I'd sit outside McDonald's with a laptop. It's scary how much of a lack of technological knowledge is in the legal system. Heck, it shouldn't even allow for due cause in retaining a warrant.
     
  6. Fishdirt

    Fishdirt Tin Toy Transformer

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    There was one where it was a kid in a boat behind the house. There were several cases in the past 2 years. Not to mention the homeowner had a gun to his head, was handled harshly as well as accused loudly in front of neighbors of being a pedarass. Yeah, the lawsuit is a no brainer. Don't think they want to risk this again.
     
  7. grimlock1972

    grimlock1972 "No Mas" My Wallet

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    i think it likely this may be appealed, but either way this must have gotten the RIAA's attention seeing as it is there legal staff's favorite tactic and if they lose the ab ility to use it there will be in a panic. I really hope it happens.
     
  8. The Dark Seeker

    The Dark Seeker Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure people who spoof their MAC Address will continue to do so to try to get around the system.
     
  9. Aernaroth

    Aernaroth <b><font color=blue>I voted for Super_Megatron and Veteran

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    This is a fair ruling, though I could see it being used as circumstantial evidence in addition to other more concrete forms.
     
  10. Foster

    Foster Super Mod

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    Or even inside the McDonald's. The sandwiches are gutbombs, but they'll hook you up with free refills while you download.
     
  11. Chaos Muffin

    Chaos Muffin Misadventure Veteran

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    Another reason hackers are hard to catch, they're probably piggybacking people.
     
  12. Foster

    Foster Super Mod

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    What, you think people to to coffeeshops for the atmosphere?
     
  13. Scorpion

    Scorpion Well-Known Member

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    "I'll have a half caf, nonfat mocha latte and some of the internet's BEST child pornography."
     
  14. KnightSaberAmi

    KnightSaberAmi Nyan Nyan

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    :lol  exactly, they gotta go there cause their still making house payments on the mac they just bought...
     
  15. Transbot90210

    Transbot90210 Banned

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    I always thought IP addresses where useless in charges because, although you can prove which computer it is, you can not prove who is using said computer.
     
  16. Tripredacus

    Tripredacus K-Mart-ian Legend

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    So, I can get my name legally changed to an IP address, then I would cease to be a person? I can see both positive and negative outcomes from an action like that.
     
  17. Cax6ton

    Cax6ton Insufferable Smartass

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    True, sort of. In both of the music filesharing lawsuits, the IP address was used in conjunction with other evidence to link a person to a computer, such as usernames, email addresses, similar forensic activity, etc.

    As far as legal, incontrovertible evidence, an IP address is and never has been enough to convict anyone - but it is enough to get a warrant and discover further evidence, which usually involves seizing any computers at that location.

    So far this is the third judge to rule in a similar fashion, but one on the east coast has ruled the other way - the question is not settled by any means.
     

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