On Recording Industry vs The People, “It’s not key to this decision, but I am disturbed by the assumption about IP numbers that appears to be accepted without question in a number of legal discussions, including this court decision,” posted University of Chicago professor Mike O’Donnell, quoting the section that bothered him.
“Plaintiffs have identified each defendant by the unique Internet Protocol (“IP”) address assigned to that defendant on the date and time of their alleged infringing activity,” it reads. ”
“Plaintiffs seek to discover from the College the identity of the persons to whom these IP addresses were assigned.”
O’Donnell goes on >>>>>>>>>>>
1. IP addresses are never assigned to persons. They are assigned to network interfaces on particular hosts or virtual hosts. A virtual host is pretty much any computational abstraction we like.
2. IP addresses are not assigned by any authority with the mission to identify the persons responsible for the network interfaces to which they are assigned. In most cases, the assigner has no competence to make such an identification.
3. Most IP addresses are in fact assigned by an immediate neighbor on a local area network. Furthermore, that neighboring router is the only agent that deals with the assignment in any way. Incoming traffic to a given IP address reaches the “assigned” interface through the information stored only at that neighboring router.
4. Network protocols provide no way whatsoever to determine whether incoming traffic to a particular IP address has been solicited by some action at that address, or is gratuitous. (It is not at all crazy to worry that some offending traffic is generated by RIAA action in its attempts to identify offenders, and probably not even as a conscious attempt to frame the recipient).
5. The IP number given as return address in a packet is provided initially by the actual sender, which may (and in the case of an attacker often does) provide an address used by another interface not at all involved in the production of the packet. So the return IP address in a packet received by an RIAA detection effort does not indicate even the IP address of the actual sender in any reliable way.
I am one of at least thousands of people who could easily provide expert testimony on the points above.
Tracing of identities through IP numbers can definitely have value in law enforcement, but by itself an IP number on a packet has only suggestive value and is not reliable evidence at all.
The association of packets bearing a particular IP number with the actions of a particular person depend on assumptions about the behavior of that person and all other persons who take actions causing packets to be transmitted (since any IP number can be entered by any network software anywhere, with no necessary connection to the network interface “assigned” that number).
another defeat – RIAA fails to get student IDs, July 14, 2007
Recording Industry vs The People – Virginia Judge Denies RIAA Ex Parte Motion Against College of William and Mary students, July 14, 2007
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