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An IP Address Does Not Point To a Person, Judge Rules 293

Posted by Soulskill
from the your-computer-is-broadcasting-a-person dept.
AffidavitDonda writes with this excerpt from Torrentfreak: "A possible landmark ruling in one of the mass-BitTorrent lawsuits in the US may spell the end of the 'pay-up-or-else-schemes' that have targeted over 100,000 Internet users in the last year. District Court Judge Harold Baker has denied a copyright holder the right to subpoena the ISPs of alleged copyright infringers, because an IP-address does not equal a person. Among other things, Judge Baker cited a recent child porn case where the US authorities raided the wrong people, because the real offenders were piggybacking on their Wi-Fi connections. Using this example, the judge claims that several of the defendants in VPR's case may have nothing to do with the alleged offense either. ... Baker concludes by saying that his Court is not supporting a 'fishing expedition' for subscribers' details if there is no evidence that it has jurisdiction over the defendants."
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An IP Address Does Not Point To a Person, Judge Rules

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  • Wow. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @04:47PM (#36016064)

    Pity this'll never survive through the appellate courts, since the MafiAA bought off all the appellate judges long ago.

  • by Huntr (951770) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @04:48PM (#36016084)
    Obviously, this won't be settled until it reaches the Supreme Court, but it's a vital 1st step. Go Freedom!
  • by The Optimizer (14168) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @04:50PM (#36016110)

    ...where Judges are applying an understanding of the technical issues, common sense, and considering the situation of ordinary citizens?

    • by msauve (701917) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @04:54PM (#36016162)
      Well, it was filed on April 29, so the judge may have made up his mind on April 27, Opposite Day [wikipedia.org].
    • by H0p313ss (811249) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @05:03PM (#36016318)

      ...where Judges are applying an understanding of the technical issues, common sense, and considering the situation of ordinary citizens?

      The same world where bin Ladin is dead, democracy is sweeping the middle east like a sandstorm, Duke Nukem Forever will ship in June and the NDP are the official opposition in Canada.

      2011 is pretty interesting so far.

      • by xMrFishx (1956084) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @05:11PM (#36016436)
        Yeah I mean seriously, who'd have known DNF might actually come out...
      • by unperson (223869)

        ... Duke Nukem Forever will ship in June ...

        chickens = eggs.

      • by powerlord (28156)

        ...where Judges are applying an understanding of the technical issues, common sense, and considering the situation of ordinary citizens?

        The same world where bin Ladin is dead, democracy is sweeping the middle east like a sandstorm, Duke Nukem Forever will ship in June and the NDP are the official opposition in Canada.

        2011 is pretty interesting so far.

        Its all just a trap to lull us into a false sense of happiness before 2012 brings worldwide destruction and devastation.

        • by syousef (465911)

          ...where Judges are applying an understanding of the technical issues, common sense, and considering the situation of ordinary citizens?

          The same world where bin Ladin is dead, democracy is sweeping the middle east like a sandstorm, Duke Nukem Forever will ship in June and the NDP are the official opposition in Canada.

          2011 is pretty interesting so far.

          Its all just a trap to lull us into a false sense of happiness before 2012 brings worldwide destruction and devastation.

          Did you all miss the tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes and nuclear meltdowns? 2011 hasn't been all kittens and puppies.

          • by powerlord (28156)

            ...where Judges are applying an understanding of the technical issues, common sense, and considering the situation of ordinary citizens?

            The same world where bin Ladin is dead, democracy is sweeping the middle east like a sandstorm, Duke Nukem Forever will ship in June and the NDP are the official opposition in Canada.

            2011 is pretty interesting so far.

            Its all just a trap to lull us into a false sense of happiness before 2012 brings worldwide destruction and devastation.

            Did you all miss the tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes and nuclear meltdowns? 2011 hasn't been all kittens and puppies.

            Sorry, it wasn't in my MyFaceTwit feed, so I didn't hear about them. ... did those things impact many people? Why didn't my parents mention it when they brought me dinner? I mean, why else would I be^H^H ... I mean ... HAVE THEM living with me.

      • 2011 is pretty interesting so far.

        And this is just another sign on the end of the world in 2012...

      • yeah, that LHC thing worked out pretty well !

      • by crossmr (957846)

        official opposition doesn't mean shit when there is a majority. They can stomp their feet all they want. Harper is preparing to sell us to American big business in 3...2...1....

      • by JDAustin (468180)

        The same world where bin Ladin is dead, democracy is sweeping the middle east like a sandstorm, Duke Nukem Forever will ship in June and the NDP are the official opposition in Canada.

        2011 is pretty interesting so far.

        You seem to forget that democracy in the middle east (outside Iraq and Israel) boils down to one MAN, one vote, ONE TIME.

    • Hold tight everyone! Space time is about to rip itself apart!

    • When you take down the figurehead of the crusade to put us in Terror from our own government, this is what happens! You get the single biggest break in the file-lawsuit in years! /hoping

    • ...where Judges are applying an understanding of the technical issues, common sense, and considering the situation of ordinary citizens?

      I'm going with "The Twilight Zone" - I've seen some pretty weird, implausible or downright impossible crap on that show.

  • by gr8_phk (621180) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @04:53PM (#36016140)
    Finally a reason for people to get fixed IP addresses. IPv6 of course - preferably at least 256 per house. Most commercial interests don't want this, but if the **AA want if maybe it will actually happen :-)
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Won't do a bit to prevent anyone from "sharing" their IP a la open wireless or a Tor exit node.

    • by billstewart (78916) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @05:05PM (#36016366) Journal

      There are several reasons ISPs would rather give you dynamic addresses - DHCP is easier than keeping track of address assignments, and it lets them charge you more if you care about static. (And most ISPs are planning 256 subnets per house, not just 256 host addresses.)

      But the commercial interests who do advertising or who do geolocation or other tricks to sell to advertisers would *love* to have user information tracked by static IP addresses and ideally even per-device MAC addresses that can be encoded into IPv6 addrs, because that's better consumer data.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        Can you imagine the personal information gathering and targeted advertising you could do with fixed IPs?

        Imagine how much Google and Apple could compile... the targeted ads they could send you... the lists they could make available for sale to advertisers...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        advertisers would *love* to have user information tracked by static IP addresses and ideally even per-device MAC addresses that can be encoded into IPv6 addrs

        But they already do have majority of that information. When you get your "dynamic" IP address, it is not really dynamic. It is quite static to the area you live in. Secondly, MAC address have no value. Thirdly, MAC addresses are NOT required to be part of IPv6 address - Windows 7 picks a random number, AFAIK.

        On the other hand, static IP addresses allow users to actually participate in the internet as a network of peers. Skype, SIP, and ability to access your data remotely are all possible if you have static

      • I just found an interesting blog post on this topic: http://www.christopher-parsons.com/blog/technology/ipv6-and-the-future-of-privacy/ [christopher-parsons.com]

        To get you interested here's a snippet:

        Fortunately, the good engineers that develop Internet Protocols were aware of the potentially devastating consequences that static IP addresses for each device would have on anonymity online and, as a result, privacy. The Internet Protocol next generation (IPng) working group crafted a solution that involved creating;

        pseudorandom interface identifiers and temporary addresses using an algorithm The temporary address would not derive from a completely random generation process, which might result in two computers generating the same number, but instead would produce a temporary pseudo-random sequence dependent on both the globally unique serial number and a random component. The number would be globally unique because it would derive from the interface identifier and from the history of previously generated addresses, but would be difficult for an external node to reverse engineer to determine the source computer. [3]

        In layman’s terms, this means that the engineers responsible for IPv6 were mindful of the surveillance capacities of the new Internet Protocol, and built privacy into a system that would otherwise lend itself to surveillance and authoritarian tendencies. The catch, however, is that is requires the parties responsible for assigning IP addresses to participate in the pseudo-anonymization process itself: it’s possible for ISPs to forcibly assign particular address to each and every device on their network.

    • Re:Finally!! (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @05:06PM (#36016382)
      You get a lot more that 256 address for your home network if IPv6 is done the way it is suppose to be done.

      Note that having a IP==Computer also doesn't change the ruling from the Judges reasoning either, they did raid the right place, he did have that IP number when the offense was committed. Getting a new IP number every few hours from the ISP does *not* give you extra privacy and NAT does not give you any security.

      And if you really want, there is the "get a random IPv6 address" option anyway.
    • Not really.

      I keep a dedicated cable modem hooked up, but there are several unsecured routers around my home and the city provides free wireless just a few blocks away if I chose to use a laptop.

    • by mark-t (151149)
      256 would be inadequate without falling back on NAT. 2^16 *MAY* be sufficient... depending on how much connectivity a person's household appliances and consumer electronics might actually utilize. I would, however, tend to be partial to no less than 2^32 addresses per household.
    • Re:Finally!! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Terrasque (796014) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @05:36PM (#36016754) Homepage Journal

      Actually, the recommended minimum subnet to allocate for ipv6 is /64 ..

      And yes, that does mean you can host the whole internet on your next LAN. Several times.

      To be exact, you'd have 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 adresses. (ref http://www.bind.com/?path=netmasks6 [bind.com] )

      From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subnetwork#IPv6_subnetting [wikipedia.org]

      An RFC 4291 compliant subnet always uses IPv6 addresses with 64 bits for the host portion. It therefore has a /64 routing prefix (128â'64 = the 64 most-significant bits). Although it is technically possible to use smaller subnets, they are impractical for local area networks networks based on Ethernet technology, because 64 bits are required for stateless address auto configuration. The Internet Engineering Task Force recommends to use /64 subnets even for point-to-point links, which consists of only the two hosts.

  • I'm not one to trumpet common sense (because it usually isn't as common as we think), but I'm here to play you all a song on my trumpet.

    Now if we can eliminate speeding tickets based on license plate numbers...

    • by _Sprocket_ (42527)

      Now if we can eliminate speeding tickets based on license plate numbers...

      Where do you live that speeding tickets are based on license plate numbers? Everywhere I've gotten a ticket involved a cop actually handing me a ticket or having a photograph of my plate and my face on the ticket (actually - this happened to some friends, not me. They borrowed someone's car. Got busted by a speed camera. Ticket came in the mail to the car's owner. Owner noted that the photographed driver wasn't him. Driver was actually on their way to the airport and has left the country. End of tick

      • Germany, UK for sure (because I got a ticket from both of those places), and I think I've read that Maryland and DC have speed cameras, as well as several other Eastern states that take a picture of your license plate and then the owner of the vehicle is mailed the citation, regardless of who was driving.

        We have red light cameras in Austin, TX, but since I'm not an asshole driver, I don't know what kind of proof they get with those (i.e. can you tell it's me driving?)

  • by Idimmu Xul (204345) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @05:13PM (#36016458) Homepage Journal

    Judge Baker cited a recent child porn case where the US authorities raided the wrong people, because the real offenders were piggybacking on their Wi-Fi connections.

    Surely the police raided the right people, the owners of the wireless device that facilitated the downloading. How they handled them after that however is debatable, but how would the police have been expected to solve the crime with out doing that?

    Car analogy! If my car is caught on a video camera running over children, shouldn't they be allowed to go to the DMV with my license details, get my address and interview me?

    • by Java Pimp (98454)

      Not really, unless you are saying we need to register our computers with the state and acquire a license before we take them out on the information super highway...

    • by Moryath (553296) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @05:28PM (#36016638)

      Surely the police raided the right people, the owners of the wireless device that facilitated the downloading

      Actually, it turned out the downloader had been downloading using half a dozen access points, and they eventually caught him by tracing back his login from where he had downloaded at a university through the U's secured wireless.

      So the raid was not just worthless, it was a waste of time and involved the needless trampling and horrific treatment of innocent people.

      In other words, whoever collected the "evidence" and authorized the raid were being a couple of lazy fuckasses, which we should never allow law enforcement to be, and which is why it's so important to enshrine into precedent that an IP address IS NOT A PERSON and should not be enough to authorize a raid.

      • by evanbd (210358) on Tuesday May 03, 2011 @06:11PM (#36017168)
        Why are SWAT teams raiding houses and kicking in doors at all for suspects who aren't believed to be armed and dangerous? There are plenty of ways to make mistakes, and a knock on the door with warrant in hand would have been as effective if they'd been right, and drastically reduced the trauma to innocent people if they were wrong.
    • by Jahava (946858)

      Judge Baker cited a recent child porn case where the US authorities raided the wrong people, because the real offenders were piggybacking on their Wi-Fi connections.

      Surely the police raided the right people, the owners of the wireless device that facilitated the downloading. How they handled them after that however is debatable, but how would the police have been expected to solve the crime with out doing that?

      Car analogy! If my car is caught on a video camera running over children, shouldn't they be allowed to go to the DMV with my license details, get my address and interview me?

      Then again, there is the question of severity. Violation of traffic laws can point to willing risk to other members of society (speeding, running lights) or, in your example, (analogous) murder. File sharing is, more or less, victimless*. I would put it more on par with police going to the DMV, then your house, because they caught you not wearing your seatbelt on camera, and I would think that, legal or no, such a reaction is well out of line.

      * Yes, I am aware of the economic impact of a failure to sell a p

    • by rsborg (111459)

      Judge Baker cited a recent child porn case where the US authorities raided the wrong people, because the real offenders were piggybacking on their Wi-Fi connections.

      Surely the police raided the right people, the owners of the wireless device that facilitated the downloading...

      You'll note that the judge isn't blaming the police, but rather the plaintiffs here as they are seeking a "fishing expedition" which has already resulted in innocent folks getting violated. Raising the bar on the MAFIAA as to when they can seek a no-knock warrant is the best way to resolve these issues.

    • Car analogy! If my car is caught on a video camera running over children, shouldn't they be allowed to go to the DMV with my license details, get my address and interview me?

      Yes.

      They should not, however, be allowed to use the capture of the license plate as proof that you were driving the car...

      ... especially not if the car was found in a ditch 20 miles outside of town with the ignition lock popped from the steering column -- which is essentially the equivalent of trying a filesharer with an open AP on the basis of an IP match.

  • A ruling that makes sense from a judge that bothered to learn something about technology. These days, most basic broadband connections have dynamic IP addresses which means, hello, that they change. Any broadband subscriber could have had that address at a given time depending upon if a router or computer was rebooted.

The bomb will never go off. I speak as an expert in explosives. -- Admiral William Leahy, U.S. Atomic Bomb Project

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