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

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the your-computer-is-broadcasting-a-person dept.

Networking 293

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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Wow. (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016064)

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

Re:Wow. (1)

bluefoxlucid (723572) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016554)

Aww man, now they'll find ANOTHER way to exploit the courts.

Re:Wow. (3, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016660)

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

All 687 of them? [wikipedia.org]

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016694)

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

All 687 of them? [wikipedia.org]

They only need a handful, don't they?

Re:Wow. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016826)

Well, the payoff is contingent on recouping the lost sales in excess of the GDPs of all of the world's countries combined.

1 Hurdle Down, A Few More to Go (5, Insightful)

Huntr (951770) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016084)

Obviously, this won't be settled until it reaches the Supreme Court, but it's a vital 1st step. Go Freedom!

Re:1 Hurdle Down, A Few More to Go (4, Insightful)

rwven (663186) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016198)

Yup. IMHO, bar none one of the most important court decisions in a good while now.

Re:1 Hurdle Down, A Few More to Go (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016240)

Amen brotha.

Re:1 Hurdle Down, A Few More to Go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016596)

Yeah, now lets go copyright infringe to our hearts content on bittorrent! Best decision evar!!!

Re:1 Hurdle Down, A Few More to Go (3, Interesting)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016538)

Obviously, this won't be settled until it reaches the Supreme Court

Or the more likely scenario is the circuit court will strike down this judge and the case will be refused hearing by the Supreme Court.

Re:1 Hurdle Down, A Few More to Go (3, Informative)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016792)

Obviously, this won't be settled until it reaches the Supreme Court

Or the more likely scenario is the circuit court will strike down this judge and the case will be refused hearing by the Supreme Court.

It's quite rare for the Supremes to hear a case until contradictory rulings have been issued on the same subject by two separate Appellate Courts.

If this case is upheld in its own District, then you've pretty much got your contradictory Appellate Court rulings in place, which means that either the Supremes hear it and rule one way or the other, or the people in that particular Appellate Court District have got that ruling to fall back on forever....

wishful thinking (0)

Lead Butthead (321013) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016544)

Obviously, this won't be settled until it reaches the Supreme Court, but it's a vital 1st step. Go Freedom!

Which by that time TSC will either refuse to hear the case or rule in favor of MAFIAA (remember the politicians that nominated and confirmed the justices are all bought and paid for) and we all be really really SCREWED.

Re:1 Hurdle Down, A Few More to Go (1)

YesDinosaursDidExist (1268920) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016602)

Its true - its a great ruling and a vital first step. But basing the ruling on someone piggybacking off of another persons router doesn't solve the main issue. What could be argued is that in fact (and we know its not true) an IP address does point to a person..but happened (because of open WIFI) to point to the WRONG person. What needs to be brought up is IP address leasing...and that a particular IP could belong to countless people over a pretty short period of time...only then will we put this issue to rest.

Re:1 Hurdle Down, A Few More to Go (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016768)

>>>until it reaches the Supreme Court, but it's a vital 1st step.

And when the Court strikes down these fishing expeditions for IPs, the Obama administration will simply direct Congress to pass a law saying that IP addresses can be linked to homeowners and the homeowners prosecuted. That's what happens almost every time the Supreme Court makes a decision Congress or the President doesn't like.

For example when SCOTUS said nude drawings of children are not illegal, Congress just passed a law saying "Yes it is." You are wiser to place your faith in State Nullification - your local legislature simply refuses to enforce laws that are unconstitutional. Plus they have actual power (money and soldiers), where the court does not.

What parallel universe have I fallen into... (5, Insightful)

The Optimizer (14168) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016110)

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

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016142)

I don't know know, but we must be neighbors. Holy moly to this news.

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (0)

Gearoid_Murphy (976819) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016194)

Apparently in this universe, sanity prevails, Glen Beck still has his own TV show though, so lets not get carried away :P

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (0)

Killjoy_NL (719667) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016400)

yeah but his contract his up, so he will be gone from Fox fast enough.

The Judge Has a Beard (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016156)

THIS is the evil universe!

Re:The Judge Has a Beard (1)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016402)

Not really evil, his coin tosses just turn out to be opposite of the other universe. Also Zoidberg is blue.

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (4, Funny)

msauve (701917) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016162)

Well, it was filed on April 29, so the judge may have made up his mind on April 27, Opposite Day [wikipedia.org] .

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016164)

MAFIAA might not offered him enough money and he felt insulted :)

And Bin Laden's dead too... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016226)

Could it be a collective dream we're all sharing?

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (5, Insightful)

H0p313ss (811249) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (3, Funny)

xMrFishx (1956084) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016436)

Yeah I mean seriously, who'd have known DNF might actually come out...

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (1)

unperson (223869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016582)

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

chickens = eggs.

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016808)

...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.

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (1)

TooMuchToDo (882796) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016456)

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

Re:What parallel universe have I fallen into... (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016632)

"Nanu Nanu?"

Finally!! (2)

gr8_phk (621180) | more than 3 years ago | (#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:Finally!! (0)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016170)

Bingo, now you see one reason that v6 is bad. You get hacked and the courts just say ' we know it was you '....

Re:Finally!! (3, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016522)

The fact that it can be hacked and there exists a strong motive for a criminal to do so means it's still not adequate as a personal identifier.

Re:Finally!! (3, Interesting)

SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016176)

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

Re:Finally!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016184)

And that will solve the unsecured router problem... How?

Commercial interests would love fixed IPv6 addrs (4, Interesting)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016366)

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:Commercial interests would love fixed IPv6 addr (1, Interesting)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016666)

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:Finally!! (3, Informative)

TheTurtlesMoves (1442727) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:Finally!! (1)

stonewallred (1465497) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016472)

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.

Re:Finally!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016498)

Only 256 per house? That sounds like a tiny amount. According to RFC6177 [ietf.org] the current recommendation is that each house should be given more than a single /64 subnet so they can establish different subnets. A /48 used to be the recommended size, but /56 is being considered. Even if you get only a single /64 subnet for your house, that loney subnet still contains as many IP addresses as the entire ipv4 address space squared. The extra subnets are only really for practical routing reasons.

Re:Finally!! (1)

mark-t (151149) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016656)

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.

Time to study up on your IPv6! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016662)

The only thing that is allocated to you at your home router in the IPv6 world is a PREFIX which is equivalent to a range of addresses A LOT bigger than 256. (probably would be a /56 allocation). Also, you have many options for doing the addressing internally with that prefix. Most network adapters will add the mac address to the prefix to get the IPv6 by default. But that is easily changed on your computer to instead add a random set of hex numbers to the prefix to get your address. Also, in IPv6 each physical adapter can have multiple IPv6 addresses. Windows 7 does this when you receive and IPv6 address on a public network, such as a coffee shop. This is done so as to NOT be able to track a person by mac address. So in some ways, IPv6 would obscure your computer like a needle in a much bigger haystack, much better than IPv4 does.

Re:Finally!! (3, Informative)

Terrasque (796014) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016754)

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.

So slashdotters (0, Troll)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016172)

I agree that IP != person is a good ruling.

But this probably will close the door on the 99 cases out of 100 where an IP actually does equal a bad person who needs to be caught.

What do you propose we do to continue enforcement against these pieces of human waste? What if you can no longer get a warrant based on an IP?

Re:So slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016210)

You think copyright infringers are pieces are human waste?

Re:So slashdotters (-1, Flamebait)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016238)

Immoral perhaps, but no. I was thinking more of those who trade in a type of pron I don't even want to type into the outbound web server logs at work.

Re:So slashdotters (4, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016372)

So let me get this straight. You're saying, because crap evidence can be used to nail child pornographers, the fact that it's crap evidence ought to be overlooked?

I don't think anyone is saying outright that an IP address can't be used to determine if someone at a specific geographical location is doing bad things. But rather than being some absolute identifier like RIAA and the MPAA have for so long claimed, it's more like blood tests in the pre-DNA days, a way of narrowing things down, but not in and of itself sufficient evidence to indicate wrongdoing.

Re:So slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016384)

Then you have your numbers reversed. IP addresses are used to track down copyright infringers far, far, far more frequently than the "bad guys" you're referring to.

Re:So slashdotters (1)

pixline (2028580) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016406)

Immoral perhaps, but no.

What's exactly immoral in helping musical lobbies struggle to maintain their golden ass(ets) instead of letting people choose to - actually - support their favourite artists directly (i.e.: merchandise, digital releases, live shows and so on) ?!? It works - ask Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails to name a few - and sure they won't miss their legacy major. It also have a nice side effect: more lawyers on child porn users instead of 10-years-old "copyright infringers" as it should be in a normal place.

Re:So slashdotters (4, Insightful)

sjames (1099) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016814)

One fine day when the cops break your door down without warning, "drive stun" your crotch with a Taser and then destroy everything in your house (including the sheet rock, carpets, and floorboards) because as far as they're concerned, you are a "piece of human waste" and it's good enough for you, remember that you advocated that IP address=personal identity.

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for compensation, an apology, or even a note to your neighbors that you're not actually a perv, because you'll get none of that without a years long bankrupting court battle.

Or, we could simply insist that they do actual followup police work to see if there's a GOOD reason to believe they have the right person first. They can look for things like financial transactions between the suspect and a known bad guy, or physical evidence of the crime taking place. If they find none of that, they should just move on. If they DO find it, then I'm sure a judge will be glad to sign the appropriate warrants.

Re:So slashdotters (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016244)

I think the RIAA and the MPAA are pieces of human waste. Considering they are willing to sue parents because they can't sue kids.

In more civilized countries, those men would be shot.

Re:So slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016442)

Where do you get the idea they can't sue kids? They can and have.

Re:So slashdotters (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016242)

What bad persons? *Really* bad persons launch all their bad stuff from hacked computers of ordinary people anyways. Or they're dumb not to do so.

Re:So slashdotters (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016246)

Wait, you mean the police might have to do actual police work rather than relying on shoddy "evidence" that doesn't point to the right place, raiding innocent people's houses, trampling all over civil liberties...

Gee. I must be insane to think we could agree that the cops should be required to do their due diligence...

Re:So slashdotters (1)

OverlordQ (264228) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016394)

Wait, you mean the police might have to do actual police work rather than relying on shoddy "evidence" that doesn't point to the right place, raiding innocent people's houses, trampling all over civil liberties...

Gee. I must be insane to think we could agree that the cops should be required to do their due diligence...

Good thing the only thing in the courts are criminal cases and nobody ever has to bring a civial suit.

Re:So slashdotters (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016258)

What do you propose we do to continue enforcement against these pieces of human waste? What if you can no longer get a warrant based on an IP?

Uh, get more evidence? The IP could be used as a starting point, but shouldn't be used as the only reason to kick down doors.

Re:So slashdotters (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016262)

It's better to let 10 guilty men free than to put one innocent man behind bars.

Re:So slashdotters (0)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016410)

This was a sentiment of the founding fathers.

Sadly, none of the Retardicans/Ree Tardy fringe today are smart enough to even acknowledge that the Founding Fathers said it. They're too busy trampling all over our rights and reenacting Nazi Germany in the name of "Security" and "Freedom" and opposition to "Communism."

Re:So slashdotters (4, Insightful)

pixline (2028580) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016448)

World isn't ready for that: Voltaire died 200 years ago and people is still trying to deal with his works, let them have their time..

Re:So slashdotters (1)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016272)

I'll bite. If you're doing something that bad, as in 'criminal trial' bad the police are involved. They can get warrants, do observation, and build a case on more than an IP. It won't stop them, if anything it forces them to build a stronger case that will lead to a guilty verdict or to the target never being indicted in the first place.

Re:So slashdotters (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016356)

I'm thinking of this scenario:

Say the police have some sort of evidence that a person is sharing illegal material, such as a torrent containing child.. material. Previously the IP probably would have been enough to get a warrant to search the premises.

If that isn't probable cause anymore, how exactly are they supposed to catch this person?

Re:So slashdotters (4, Insightful)

NevarMore (248971) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016428)

It wouldn't be probable cause for a warrantless search, but it would be enough for a bench warrant or enough to justify further actions. Perhaps something as complicated as stopping near the residence and checking to see if they have an open wireless AP.

Re:So slashdotters (0)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016610)

(Just to be clear, I agree with this ruling, I'm just worrying about unintended consequences)

Currently having an open wireless does not imply that it was always open, for one thing.

I don't see any path to PC for an LEA who doesn't have anything physically or anyone actually tipping them off. The vast majority of these people are not caught any other way.

I'm not saying I'm against this ruling, I'm saying that the law is out of date and needs to be updated to be able to handle this in a sane way. The wrong person's door getting kicked down is not good, but it's worse to remedy that at this cost.

Re:So slashdotters (1)

AffidavitDonda (1736752) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016590)

I don't think this ruling applies to normal police work.

from the order:

"the imprimatur of this court will not be used toadvance a “fishing expedition by means of a perversion of the purpose and intent” of classactions."

The police can still get the address of the suspect and than do some their job by observation to collect evidence. I think if they can proof, that the suspect is at home every time the IP was used for some criminal activity, this would be enough.

Re:So slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016276)

Gee wiz, they might actually have to do some real police work instead.

Re:So slashdotters (2)

kvvbassboy (2010962) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016332)

Get a warrant to seize hard drive,iInvestigate lifestyle patterns of the person, internet usage patterns from that IP. I still think that innocent until proven guilty should be main principle behind a ruling.

One thing is for sure, if someone wants to really hide behind a computer, he can. Unless the investigation team has influence beyond national borders.

Re:So slashdotters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016350)

"Better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer" --William Blackstone

Re:So slashdotters (1)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016378)

Wait for them to steal something that has actual value.

Re:So slashdotters (1)

SockPuppetOfTheWeek (1910282) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016380)

I'm pretty sure they could still get a warrant to track down the person who had used one IP (or a reasonably small number). Shot-gunning a few hundred thousand of them is out of the question.

IP always equals person, just not always the right person. But if you utilize some common sense it's still a worthwhile lead; at that step of the journey there's a better-than-average chance that even if it's the wrong guy he could be able to help you. If anything, this should make sure that law enforcement doesn't go doing stupid stuff like breaking down doors before they make sure that the IP = person was the right person. Suppose they do have an open wireless - chances are the person you're looking to connects to it pretty regularly. Triangulate and you have him. But don't just go knocking down the homeowner's door. Can judges award subpoenas with stipulations on how they're used, or is it up to the cops to show some common sense?

Re:So slashdotters (1)

Digicrat (973598) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016424)

This ruling affects the ability of corporations/lawyers using subpoenas to identify individuals for civil suits when the only evidence is an IP address that they are equating to a John Doe. Cops requesting a subpoena for ISP details so that they have probable cause to get a search warrant which in turn *may* lead to hard evidence that will allow prosecution is a completely different manner and shouldn't (in theory) be affected by this precedent.

Disclaimer: IANAL

Re:So slashdotters (2)

dwillden (521345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016470)

It's better that 9999 guilty bad guys go free instead of 1 innocent be subject to a no-knock raid and arrest due to faulty information.

Re:So slashdotters (4, Insightful)

billstewart (78916) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016500)

(Should I feed the troll? Awww, c'mon, it'll be fun!)

An IPv4 address typically identifies a single household, not a single individual.

And while sometimes the activity that leads to a search warrant based on an IP address rates the term "pieces of human waste", it's usually not child pornography, it's usually just music or movie downloading, and maybe the person trying to have sex with the "13-year-old girl" in the chat room is actually the 13-year-old teenage boy in the household, not the 40-year-old adult who's paying for the IP address.

Getting a warrant for a guns-drawn SWAT raid should require an extremely high amount of certainty and a lot of information about the suspect, not just the simple "we've seen him dealing weed and don't want him flushing it" level. Even a warrant for a normal polite knock on the door by an officer with a search warrant or arrest warrant ought to require higher standards than police have been getting away with lately, and if the alleged "crime" is "copyright violation", that's something that ought to be dealt with by a process server, not a cop.

Re:So slashdotters (4, Insightful)

unperson (223869) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016524)

But this probably will close the door on the 99 cases out of 100 where an IP actually does equal a bad person who needs to be caught.

I'm not sure about the 99/100 figure. However, even if that's true, I'd argue that just because something is a 99% accurate indicator of crime, it doesn't justify a forfeiture of rights for the other 1%. Is having an IP address linked to an illegal activity justification to open an investigation? Sure. Enough to break in and confiscate property of an individual who has an open WAP living in a populated area? Probably not. Keep in mind people committing internet crimes are "crafty" and know that its important to hide their own identities (often, masking them as the identities of others)

Re:So slashdotters (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016560)

I agree that IP != person is a good ruling.

But this probably will close the door on the 99 cases out of 100 where an IP actually does equal a bad person who needs to be caught.

Unless you have something to back up the "99 cases out of 100" figure, we'll just throw that out off-hand as a WAG to draw attention your point. The real point is what do we do to catch Bad People. Build a case on more than an IP address. A case is not built on a street address. Nor is a case based on a license plate number. And these are much more static in nature than IP addresses. While all this might be part of a the chain that leads to an arrest and consequently part of the case, it's going to take more than just that to identify and prosecute.

Re:So slashdotters (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016562)

>What if you can no longer get a warrant based on an IP?

This is only saying a business can't subpoena private details of another private party on IP alone, I don't know how that would apply to a warrant. I assume the RIAA, could still use IP data to have a investigation opened by the police, and they could get a further search warrant that could allow a address given to the police... I would think a warrant for the address to be given to police would have a lower burden than for a private party. I hope it was learned to not use IP alone as a reason to grant a smash and grab raid warrant, but only to get contact information to continue the investigation perhaps by contacting the owner of equipment, to gather more evidence. They probably could have caught the actual perv, had they quietly contacted the home owner, and started logging that homeowners Wifi info... Once they smashed the innocent owners place in, shutting down the network, announcing to everyone within 100* the maximum wifi range they had "caught the perv". I suspect it was too late then to gather any more data on the actual perp.

Re:So slashdotters (1)

tripleevenfall (1990004) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016764)

-Sigh-

modded troll?

I was honestly not trolling. I just wanted to discuss was the unintended consequences might be of this ruling.

Why do people have to mod you "troll" just for asking the question? I honestly wanted the answer.

They'll fix this with IPV6 (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016180)

When IPV6 comes around the bottom 64 bits of your address will be a hash of your DNA, handily encoded on your implanted chip, necessary to do anything at all on-line. You won't be able to buy or sell without it.

Finally (1)

stewbacca (1033764) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016294)

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...

Re:Finally (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016614)

You are kidding right? In the great state of CO (and I am SURE others, and half my family are cops in NJ), they use an Optical Character Recognition scanner to run your plate number automatically through the on board networked laptop; e.g. which then "tells" the officer what your story is, put your positioning traffic on screen, speed, and other info - instantly - should you be deemed "up to no good". So if you are late on your registration, and caught my their car mounted camera's, you are beat, if they are not already preoccupied with some other sloth of society. Or, whatever other purposes they need to generate revenue.

Re:Finally (1)

_Sprocket_ (42527) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016634)

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 ticket).

Not home yet kids (1)

hilldog (656513) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016340)

In the case of a static IP address and a locked down router would that not be enough circumstantial evidence to convict? While I applaud this ruling still I think a jury or judge could be swayed by a good prosecutor pointing to those two factors. Ummthat and your 1200 titles movie collection on home burned DVD’s.

Re:Not home yet kids (2)

Wamoc (1263324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016416)

In the case of a static IP address and a locked down router would that not be enough circumstantial evidence to convict?

A router can be locked down after someone else used the connection openly. The law would have to prove that the router was locked down at the time the infringement happened.

Re:Not home yet kids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016478)

It would also have to prove that it had not been broken into. Bring out a few cracking tools in court...

er this is a bit silly (2, Interesting)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016458)

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?

Re:er this is a bit silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016574)

Yes, but they have to make at least an attempt to figure out if you were, indeed, the driver of your own vehicle at the time of the incident. They are not allowed to figure 'you are good for it' and slap the irons on you simply because your car was there.

Re:er this is a bit silly (1)

Idimmu Xul (204345) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016738)

Yes, but they have to make at least an attempt to figure out if you were, indeed, the driver of your own vehicle at the time of the incident. They are not allowed to figure 'you are good for it' and slap the irons on you simply because your car was there.

Totally agreed, but that kind of rights violation is more related to how the police handle searching a premises and the whole 'innocent until proven guilty' line, which they seem to forget quite readily.

Re:er this is a bit silly (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016608)

Sure, but they probably shouldn't be able to break into your home and point automatic weapons at your head while they take everything inside.

Re:er this is a bit silly (2)

Java Pimp (98454) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016624)

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...

Re:er this is a bit silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016726)

Hello 2012.

Re:er this is a bit silly (5, Informative)

Moryath (553296) | more than 3 years ago | (#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.

Re:er this is a bit silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016696)

Interview, sure. Raid, no.

I'm assuming of course that as a law abiding citizen, you have the lights on, and can be seen through the window preparing sammiches as it is monday night, kick off time.

Also, going to the Car analogy, the authorities would first turn to DMV to see who has the license to distribute an unlimited number of unregisted, untracked, identical, cloned for zero cost ford trucks, the only identifiers being that it was a car, and that the dealership/importer/distributor was X.

Re:er this is a bit silly (1)

Cloudgatherer (216427) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016710)

If you re-read your post, you do not feel any cognitive dissonance at all here?

The police raided the owners of the wireless device. By your own analogous example, they would also raid you, using said video of your car as evidence that you committed hit and run (just as they would want to use IP addresses as stronger evidence than a license plate).

It is far more reasonable to interview or request access to the router/car (whichever example we are referring to here), but that is clearly not what is going on.

Re:er this is a bit silly (1)

Jahava (946858) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016712)

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 product. However, file sharing is so far removed from actual purposeful purchase, and industry profits and sales have never been higher. I would imagine that if there was a serious impact worthy of putting the act on par with public endangerment or bodily harm, there would be at least some compelling evidence of effects to back it up, and there really isn't.

Re:er this is a bit silly (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#36016734)

Sure, they can interview you if you foolishly choose to speak to them (even if you are innocent, you should never, ever speak to the police). However, if the camera does not show you driving the car, then it is useless as evidence to convict you.

Of course an IP address is not a person (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016480)

Everyone knows that only Corporations are People and the users who download data (aka consumers) are more correctly described as Serfs.

or Peasants.

choose one, but the US Supreme Court says only Corporations are People.

An IP Address can be a person in some cases (1)

quiksand (1250656) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016604)

When the ISP I worked for used to get "Notices of Infringement" from copyright holders, I was the one tasked with finding the user who was responsible for the infringement. We would get an IP Address and a timestamp along with the name of the copyrighted material. Since we kept log files for our DHCP server, I was able to tie an IP Address to a MAC Address at the time of the infringement. I was then able to look at the arp cache of our router and tie that MAC Address to a PVC. Once I got the PVC, I tied that back to a DSLAM or SLID which in every case was tied to a specific customer. In almost every case we identified the correct user. There were a few cases where we were unable to find the infringing Mac Address in the arp cache probably because the device was no longer in use.

Re:An IP Address can be a person in some cases (4, Informative)

wmshub (25291) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016670)

Ummm...no. You were able to tie an IP address to a MAC address. A MAC address does not equal a person. Especially in the case of a wifi router being the MAC address you found, you have no idea who might have actually been directing the offending internet traffic.

Re:An IP Address can be a person in some cases (1)

quiksand (1250656) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016812)

A mac address does equal a person if said mac address is tied to a PVC which is tied to a SLID or DSLAM position which is tied to a specific customer. Our network used different PVCs for each and every circuit and each of those PVCs resided on specific ports on specific pieces of equipment. Users assigned to these ports were then tracked in our billing system, So yes a Mac Address does equal a person. It showed us which persons connection was used at the time of the infringement and if that MAC Address was still in the router and they were still infringing, we'd cut their service and they'd eventually call in. I've never had a case where I backtracked a MAC Address to the wrong user.

Finally (1)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016668)

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.

house made of straw (1)

sharkmonger (2105624) | more than 3 years ago | (#36016796)

You might like the conclusion of the order, but unfortunately the judge failed to include legal support for his arguments (citing an msnbc article does not count). He also leaves no avenue for copyright holders to get the names of the account holders--he just speculates on possible defenses for the defendants, moans about the difficulty of defending a federal lawsuit, and then denies discovery. This is not the model ruling pirates have been waiting for--there is no way this order stands up on appeal.
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