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Censorship Your Rights Online

DMCA Takedown Notice For a Fake ID 563

TrippTDF writes "Rachel Hyman, an artist and bartender in New York City, maintains a blog where she regularly posts images of fake IDs she confiscates from would-be underage drinkers, along with a description of the confiscation. Recently, one of her posts (Google cache) was taken down when the owner of the fake ID invoked the DMCA against Blogspot. Can one claim a forged document as a copyrighted work of art?"
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DMCA Takedown Notice For a Fake ID

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  • Odd Issues. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Adambomb ( 118938 ) * on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @04:50PM (#19042815) Journal


    "Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture." says the U.S. Copyright office.

    A fake ID, besides being illegal to create in the United States, is a derivative work of the United States Government, and is not an original creative work of authorship.

    At least the article answers the questions of the summary directly. I like not having to think. Either way, trying to claim it was an original work seems really dangerous as its basically an admission of forgery. To any lawyers out there, is a DMCA Takedown notice considered a legal document for which charges could be filed if they implicate themselves within it?

    Good question concerning the image of the individual itself from the FPer, does the fact that its included on an unauthorized document void the persons right to control over their own image? If not will video stores be forced to ban "BAD RENTER" walls and such other devices for shaming/controlling problem customers?
  • Does it matter? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Fallingcow ( 213461 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @04:53PM (#19042881) Homepage
    Even if it is art, would it matter?

    Say you've got a website discussing a certain aspect of book cover design. You post example images for the purpose of demonstrating and discussing it. You're in the clear in this case, yes?

    Sounds like the same thing.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @04:54PM (#19042903)
    In fact it is a piece of "original" art. Though I doubt they'd want to go through court with it, over here they could.

    Though in reply they'd immediately get charged with forgery of an official document. In other words, you go to a civil court, they hit the criminal one. You stand against their lawyer, they stand against the general attorney.

    It's a bit like disassembling a trojan. In theory, it is a piece of software, protected by copyright. But I doubt any writer would ever drag you to court for it.

    In fact, if I was in her place, I would not comply and instead challenge it on grounds of ... pffft, let a lawyer get creative, they get money for that. And see if the other side is REALLY interested in seeing this in court. But then, that would be here. I dunno if in the US, copyright violations are already superior offenses to crimes against the state.
  • by TheHawke ( 237817 ) <rchapin@[ ] ['stx' in gap]> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:01PM (#19043027)
    If the plaintiff can prove that the fake ID is his/hers, then he/she has the legal right to post the takedown. Then again, this will confirm to the legal authorities that he/she is a forger of fake ID's and can be arrested and charged. It's a double-edged sword, and in this case, the sharper edge of the blade is poised over the accuser's neck. He/she needs to reconsider the ramifications of the legal action that they took. The feds might just take notice since they take a dim view of folks that make fake IDs.
  • by TBone ( 5692 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:04PM (#19043081) Homepage

    The author should most definitely file a counter-notice against Blogger, and have the page restored.

    Directions for such can be found on ChillingEffects []

    The girl is stupid. Stupid in the same way that every person we interview here gets a MySpace and Google search done on them, informally, just to see what kind of things the Intarwebs have to say about them. It's nothing official, but if we're borderline about bringing on someone, that search might tip our decision one way or the other. If we're "eh" on hiring someone, and find out they prefer to spend their nights playing games until 4 AM, then coming in late to their last 4 jobs, we're probably gonna go with "poor work ethic" and not hire them. In the same way, if she's, say, at NYU Law as an undergrad, when it comes time for internships, all those law firms are probably going to be very interested in the fact that she got caught with a fake ID when she was an undergrad.

    As the author states in her writings, "actions have consequences" . In this case, for a young woman who is "going places", her actions are that those places she's going are going to know she, when she was underage, she was willing to break the law just to go out drinking.

    I hope Rachel gets the post back online...and maybe even gets the chance to file suit for abuse of DMCA Takedown notices. We'll see what kind of places this girl goes when it's not just a post about her fake ID, but her disregard for the valid use of the law.

  • More info on artist (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hey! ( 33014 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:05PM (#19043123) Homepage Journal
    The artist's name is J.S.G. Boggs, he's in the wikipedia [] with some links. Here is web page with some samples [].
  • by skoaldipper ( 752281 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:06PM (#19043127)
    I can't say I have much sympathy for either of them. In the short span of reading some of Rachel Hyman's blog, she seems quite vindictive and equally purile in tone as the ID holders she confiscates. Plus, what guarantee does Rachel have that any of those IDs are truly fake, and then she goes posting those pictures and names on her blog without permission.

    It's one thing to deny entrance into your business based on suspicion (as thousands of bar owners do silently each day) - yet another to make a public spectacle of the whole ordeal. Rachel must like dipping her hand into a can of worms.
  • by quantaman ( 517394 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:09PM (#19043157)

    In much the same way that I can claim to have invented computers, someone can claim that an illegal document is covered under the DMCA. It is an invalid claim, as no illegal document can be protected in such a manner, but it is a claim none the less.
    Why can't an illegal document be protected under the DMCA? The DMCA is about copyright and I don't see any reason why an illegal document wouldn't be copyrighted. Now the forged ID may not necessarily be under copyright since it may not be considered an original work but if it is copyrighted than it should be protected by the DMCA (of course the copyright owner probably wouldn't want law enforcement involved but that's another matter).
  • Not exactly. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by raehl ( 609729 ) <> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:17PM (#19043271) Homepage
    If the plaintiff can prove that the fake ID is his/hers, then he/she has the legal right to post the takedown

    EVERYONE has the legal right to post a take-down notice. No proof of anything is required.

    But, as part of posting a take-down notice, you must state, under penalty of perjury, that you are the owner of the material in question, or an authorized representative of the owner.

    So if you file a DMCA complaint about a fake ID, you would be screwed one way or the other - either you created (or paid someone else to create) the ID, or you committed perjury when filing the DMCA request.
  • by Vendetta ( 85883 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:21PM (#19043341)
    Only if the party requesting it be taken down actually took the picture and own the copyright to it.
  • Re:Odd Issues. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HoldenCaulfield ( 25660 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:25PM (#19043411) Journal

    I'd say shaming people is still a technique that's in fairly active use, whether intentionally or unintentionally.

    Sex offender registries, and resultant websites mapping their residences [] would be an example.

    "Scarlet letter" plates [] for DUI/DWIs seem to be gaining traction as well.

    Granted, both sex offenders and DUI/DWIs are horrible crimes, but it does seem as if we're not giving people a fair chance at reintegrating into society . . .

    I'm sure there are other examples out there . . .

  • by Nikker ( 749551 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:32PM (#19043555)
    If I send you an official notice that I am the owner of a copyrighted material and confirm it using a reference to picture, don't I just royally screw myself for forgery?
  • Re:Does it matter? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by the phantom ( 107624 ) * on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:34PM (#19043617) Homepage
    This was exactly the point that I was going to make. It is perfectly legal to duplicate copyrighted works (or portions thereof) in the interest of criticism or review, not to mention satire or parody. Even if you can successfully make the argument that you own the copyright for a forged government document, I don't see how a bartender posting a photograph of said forged document, and criticizing and mocking the execution of that document does not fall under fair use.
  • by stoolpigeon ( 454276 ) * <bittercode@gmail> on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:34PM (#19043631) Homepage Journal
    she makes it clear that she is legally obliged to keep the id. i guess i can totally relate because i have friends who have lost jobs because they sold to minors through being careless. she is pretty careful to explain thoroughly and multiple times that she wont give the id back because it could cause problems for her friends and family who work in the same business.
    in my experience when i had to check id's the only people who ever got out of sorts over it were those who were underage. i'd kill to get carded - but it never happens any more. (i'm 38).
    as for the posting on the blog - i think the stories of how it all went down are priceless. so it doesn't seem like a power trip to me as much as great entertainment.
  • Re:Dumb criminals (Score:3, Interesting)

    by sootman ( 158191 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:49PM (#19043919) Homepage Journal
    Let me clarify the evidently too-subtle point of my post: If you break the law, it's a bad idea to call attention to yourself. For example, if someone steals your cocaine (which is illegal to possess) it's a bad idea to complain to the police that your cocaine was stolen. Similarly, if you have a fake ID, it's a bad idea to say "Hey! That's my fake ID!" when someone posts a picture of it on their site.
  • Short answer: No (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DRJlaw ( 946416 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @05:52PM (#19043993)
    Let's analyze this problem step by step.

    Copyright protection subsists in original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression. 17 U.S.C. 102.

    1. What is original in the driver's license?

    The graphics? No. The layout? No. The selection of the fields of data? No. The photograph? Arguably. The data? Arguably.

    2. What is original and protectable in the driver's license?

    Are photographs protectable? Yes. Is data protectable? No. FEIST PUBLICATIONS, INC. v. RURAL TELEPHONE SERVICE CO., 499 U.S. 340 (1991).

    3. Is the reproduction likely to infringe the protectable content?

    The fair use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies or phonorecords or by any other means specified by that section, for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. In determining whether the use made of a work in any particular case is a fair use the factors to be considered shall include--
    (1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes;
    (2) the nature of the copyrighted work;
    (3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and
    (4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.

    17 U.S.C. 107.

    The purpose and character appears to be criticism, or at least not commercial. The nature of the copyrighted work is at least allegedly a government ID, which does not favor copyrightability by someone other than the government. The amount and substantiality of the portion used is essentially all, which does favor copyrightability. However, the effect of the use upon the potential market or value of the photograph is, at least to the best of our knowledge, none, since Google is bereft of interesting content regarding Ms. Ashley Heyer.

    The fair use factors balance out somewhere along the lines of 3 against, 1 in favor. There could be a more involved analysis, and there could be ancillary factors for consideration, but if I were the one being faced with this DMCA notice, I would file the counternotice and take my chances.
  • It was all my idea (Score:3, Interesting)

    by goatsandmonkeys ( 1099511 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:30PM (#19044645)
    Hi I'm Mark. I've been a slash dot reader since slash dot radio on the sync in the 90s. I am friends with the ID owner. I told her since she owned the copyright to the picture and signature on the card that she could invoke the DMCA. Rachel seems to be under the impression that the card holder is claiming ownership to the card which she is not,just the image and the signature. I think the DMCA is a awful law, but it is the law. I see this as activism to illustrate how bad the DMCA is. But I must say it feels good to use a law purchased by large corporate interests for personal use.
  • by PhxBlue ( 562201 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:33PM (#19044685) Homepage Journal
    -1, Wrong.
  • by vorlich ( 972710 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:52PM (#19044997) Homepage Journal
    I used to be manager in the World Famous Barnton Bar & Bistro - as featured on Irvine Welsh's cups - [] (Pure rubbish website now). From Thursday through to Saturday staff general carded people who they suspected were under 18 years old - that's the legal drinking age in Scotland and the UK. We didn't systematically card everyone because with over 400 people throught the doors in the space of a few hours it just isn't practical. It is illegal in Scotland for a member of staff to serve alcohol to anyone under-age and they can be fined.
    It is easy to spot the under age drinkers, here are just six red flags:
    1 They don't look around - regular punters always check out the pub because surprising as it is, most people come to the pub for the social aspect and like to see who is in. It is not unusual for a group of woman to come in look around and then immediately leave because there is a lack of male totty.
    2. They try to find a seat immediately, preferably down the back or as far away from the bar as people. This is so the youngest of them can attempt to hide in the dark and they can have a committee meeting to decide who looks the oldest and is going for the round (for non-UK residents this is the special social custom of buying all the drinks in rotation). Most regular punters usually try to get served first (well, that's the third reason they came in!) and prefer to worry about a seat afterwards and anyway - you can always just stand near the bar, that's how you meet people!
    3. Before smoking was made illegal they always either smoked at the bar or lit a cigarette as they were about to be served. Regular punters simply never did this, even the lowest drunken old bum never did this, they waited until they had secured their drink and then they lit cigarette. Regular punters who actually had a cigarette in their hand when they went to buy their round (to fulfill the complex anthropological necessities of doing this sometimes you have to quickly buy an extra drink for a new arrival just as you are settling down.) would make a great effort to hide the cigarette - not blow it in your face.
    4. Behave as if you had roundly insulted them when you ask for their id. Real people who are the legal age are always very amused and smug whenever they are asked for their id and give it willingly and with great enthusiasm. One particulary short and baby-faced student who was actually 25 was always amused when asked for his ID - and boy did he have ID!
    5. Avoid eye contact or use inappropriate eye contact. Under agers are always tempted to address their inner child during this stressful trial and find it difficult not to look down or in attempt to overcome this desire, stare straight at you like a mad wookie.
    6. Pick the wrong gender of staff for the wrong reasons on the wrong night. Friday night is the end of the week and the traditional night for most customers to be engaged in the search for a sexual partner ( your all still with me...? Okay.) This means that women want to be served by the most attractive man behind the bar and men want to be served by the most attractive woman, at the very least you understand, it's practice. Gay men and women do the same thing but obviously with the same sex and if you are wondering how to tell the difference, perhaps you need to get out more. Saturday is for getting drunk, since you may as well console yourself at not having sex the previous evening, so you are not interested in which member of staff serves you.

    So Ashley Heyer failed on number 4. And now she's the talk of slashdot. Paris Hilton, eat your heart out... at least until 5th June!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @06:53PM (#19045007)
    The driver's license calculators [] worked to verify that the numbers on two of the IDs posted on Rachel's blog don't match the information on those IDs. Some of the numbers are close, but still completely off. If there's a cached version of the ID that prompted the DMCA abuse, I'd run the information through the Maryland calculator [] and see how they match up.

    It may not be like running the ID through LEIN, but if that calculator spits out a completely different driver's license number based on the information, my hat goes off to Rachel, even if it is kind of a bitch move to post these things on the Internet. If the generated number matches, either the girl was also using that calculator (unlikely -- the Michigan and Florida fake IDs on her blog don't match the generated numbers), or the bartender was overzealous and confiscated a genuine ID. The latter is probably just as unlikely; I'd gladly wait for the cops to arrive, run my license, tell the bartender I really am old enough and hopefully get at least one drink on the house for the embarassment.
  • Who owns the Photo (Score:3, Interesting)

    by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @07:03PM (#19045175) Homepage
    Photo is an artistic work, it is copyrightable.

    I'm glad I don't have her lawyers.

    The better layer is to use a photo owned by someone who is not the fake ID holder.
    If I grant Bob a license to 1 copy of my photo he could use it in any way he wants. Taking his ID would not give you a license to use it.

    If you want to bust them, take your own photo when they come in your bar.
  • by InvalidError ( 771317 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @07:59PM (#19045841)
    What is the purpose of an ID card?

    ID cards are meant to cram all the information deemed necessary for the intended purpose on a wallet-sized piece of plastic or plastified cardboard. Basically, all that the card contains is a graphical template copyrighted by the organization that issued the ID with cold-hard-facts printed on top of said template.

    Cold-hard-facts are non-copyrightable.
    The ID's graphical design and layout are copyrighted by the agency. Since the relevant agency here is public, issued documents are practically public-domain as far as faithful duplication is concerned.
    By inappropriate use of the template, whoever manufactured the fake ID is infringing the agency's copyright on the ID's graphical design... but this is a minor inconvenience compared to felony charges for forgery.

    Since forgery of an official document necessarily infringes on the issuing agency's copyright for the original's graphical design, a forgery is most likely not entitled to any sort of copyright protection.
  • Re:Rachel is cool (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dircha ( 893383 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:05PM (#19045925)
    "Hilarious. Because nothing's funnier than making fun of people who are younger than you."

    Except we do have, on the face of it, good reasons to believe that a legal drinking age of 21 is effective at reducing drinking among minors. Specifically, rather than acquiring alcohol from their immediate peers and classmates, minor high school students must acquire alcohol from their parents, older siblings, or whoever didn't cut it in college and hangs around looking to pick up highschool chicks instead. Absolutely this impacts the supply of alcohol to minors. Not enough perhaps, but certainly it narrows and lengthens the supply chain, and makes it an easier target for future actions.

    And we do have good reasons to limit the supply of alcohol to minors, which is a major argument in favor of a legal drinking age of 21. While there are many exceptions, if you can't see the difference in the decision making maturity of, for example, an average 16 year old compared to an average 22 year old, you're just not thinking. There is significant brain development occurring up to even 18. We need to give minors every opportunity to be at a place developmentally where they can fully think through and appreciate the consequences of their actions before we as a society entirely remove the safeguards.

    If you are yourself 21 or older, I feel sorry for you that you still see your parents and past teachers as involved in some sort of conspiracy to maliciously oppress and control you. It's an important step to your own self realization that you come to see yourself as an adult, recognizing how you have changed and progressed over the course of your own development.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:25PM (#19046121)
    These are the original comments to the post: 765732952&postID=2662624797886976000&isPopup=true []

    I was feeling bad for Ashley until I saw what an idiot she is.

    Ashley Heyer said...

    Wow. I bet you never thought I, the girl you took the ID from, would ever see this post.

    And hey, I'd like to let you know that there's no reason to be an asshole about my political affiliation. Though my father has donated money to members of the Republican party, I am not a member.

    Ashley Heyer

    May 4, 2007 3:39 AM
    Will, the date said...

    What do we know from this post?

    This bartender didn't keep the ID because, as she claimed, she didn't want to be liable for Ashley's later exploits. She kept it so she would have a record from which to cyberstalk her. Nevermind that she got the entirely wrong idea from her online sleuthing.


    May 4, 2007 9:02 AM
    Rachel said...

    I actually kept the ID because with a big enough collection we're going to re-do the ladies bathroom at the castle.

    Notably, two minutes on google isn't cyber sleuthing, and if you work for the republicans, you're affiliated.

    May 4, 2007 9:57 AM
    Mark said...

    Hi I'm Mark I am dating Ashley. I am also a republican. A card carrying member of the party.

    May 4, 2007 9:06 PM
    erin said...

    Hi, I'm Erin, a friend of Rachel's. I don't carry political cards but I can say this, if you are stupid enough to get a fake ID, why on earth would you use your real name? Just seems silly cos then you are just asking for something like this to happen.

    Put on your big panties and deal.

    May 5, 2007 11:27 AM
    Rachel said...

    Also, Ash, if you're really this furious, I'm going to dash out your name on the post so it won't appear when you search your name on google, and you can contact me if you'd like.

    You obviously have my email, because the impressive swath of people who have accessed my blog from your facebook notes (the mapstats at the bottom of my blog tracks references, readers, and other statistics) have been subscribing magazines and random spam mail to my account. I'm not concerned, it's all fixed. They should worry about being prosecuted for identity theft if it continues.

    I imagine these people are not you, but referred to this by you. I posted this all because it was amusing to me. Not to wreck your life.

    Peace kiddo.

    May 6, 2007 4:23 PM
    MS said...

    I would also think twice about committing anymore identity fraud.

    I think that all of you people from Facebook are contributing to Global Warming.

    And not just because you are Republicans.

    May 7, 2007 12:00 AM
    Justin said...

    Wow, you're a pretty vindictive bitch, Rachel. It's one thing if you have some huge moral dilemma selling alcohol to a minor (I don't know her actual age, but I'm guessing over 18 and close to 21), but wow.

    You went through the trouble of essentially stalking this girl and posting her street address online - to what end? Aside from
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:50PM (#19046307)
    Actually, in most jurisdictions, forgery is the production of a fake document, uttering is the passing-off of such a fake document as authentic. So no, the production of a fake ID is still illegal even if it is never used.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @08:50PM (#19046315)
    I think someone needs to call her daddy, Bradley Heyer or Iowa at (515) 964-8474 and let him know that his daughter Ashley Heyer has been a bad girl. The phone number was pulled from the public records located on google.

    I find the stupidest thing of all was admitting that it was her own ID. It is a federal offense to produce fake ID's. As far as I know that Patriot Act makes fake ID's akin to a terrorist plot.

    Well Ashley, the article that was submitted at fake-ids.html [] is all just for you and your friends out there. You should read it and gain some insight.

    Just for google's erm, giggles.. though, I would like to re-add the cached page =clnk&cd=6&gl=us&client=firefox-a []
  • About "artisitc" (Score:4, Interesting)

    by guywcole ( 984149 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2007 @10:40PM (#19047259) Homepage Journal
    This is something that has confused me for a while. We frequently ask whether something is "artistic in nature" enough for copyright protection, but then I keep thinking about what the constitution says about copyright:

    Article I, Secion 8: The Congress shall have the power... To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries

    So tell me... where does pure "art" come into play? Let alone photography or photographers? Don't give me the "they couldn't forsee photographers" bit, cause they surely could foresee painters, and they didn't mention them while explicitly mentioning the other professions.

    The use of "authors" seems to imply creative writing, but I wonder if they didn't simply mean the writers of instructional books like "a guide to the production of lead bullets" or "how to pack a cartridge." My educated guess would be that the intent of "useful arts" would be things like metalsmithing, carpenty, etc. The kinds of things that had economic use, not just aesthetic.

    Regardless, how would photographs fit into either a strict-text or intent-based reading of the Constitution? The best I can figure would be a really, really loose reasonable-construction test. But hell, I think the process for forging licenses would be more of a "useful art" than any individual mug shot, so how would the photo be more copyright-able than the license itself?

  • Re:Possesion (Score:4, Interesting)

    by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Wednesday May 09, 2007 @09:29AM (#19050747) Journal
    I have a CDL drivers license and the backgrounds on those used to be/are in my area, a different color then the regular licenses were there was a color for the over 21 crowd and under21 crowd when the license was issued.

    I was at the store and some broad asked for ID for the beer I was buying, she looked at it and declared it fake then refused to give it back. I was furious and demanded the return of the license and eventually called the police after locking the front entrance to the store to get it back(she called the law after I locked us in too). Fake Id or not, I don't understand what gives people the gull to keep something that doesn't belong to them when they obtain it though the course of a normal transaction. I was about to just beat her over the head to get it back but decided calling the police and reporting it stolen by her was better.

    Now, I'm not sure what the laws for a fake ID are but I would think that anything that belongs to me, no matter how legal it is or not, still belongs to me no matter who has it in their possession. And without some court action declaring it illegal or fake to the respect of it not meeting the requirements of the legal system, I'm not sure how someone can make this claim with impunity. Just because someone refused to give something back doesn't mean it is now theirs, it just means it is now in their possession. I think whoever took the ID in order to profit from a website should be sued or fined by a competent court without consideration of the validity of the document. I have no sympathy for them. And yes, Anything on the license could still be that persons property and should warrant a DMCA take down notice. In possession doesn't equal ownership. Especially when the name and picture on the ID shows it belongs to someone else.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming