Judge Rules That an IP Address is Not Equivalent to a Person

Over the last few years, copyright owners have walked into courthouses, armed with nothing but an IP address, and have claimed exorbitant amounts in copyright infringement cases. However, recent rulings in similar cases are changing this trend, and making things a bit difficult for copyright holders. In a recent BitTorrent case, Judge Gary Brown has dismissed an IP address as evidence against an individual for download of copyrighted material, and has given ample explanation for this dismissal.

Judge Gary Brown talks about the current trend in BitTorrent cases, saying:

The assumption that the person who pays for Internet access at a given location is the same individual who allegedly downloaded a single sexually explicit film is tenuous, and one that has grown more so over time.

Nonetheless, he simplified how weak a copyright infringement case is when presented with an IP address as evidence, in these lines:

An IP address provides only the location at which one of any number of computer devices may be deployed; much like a telephone number can be used for any number of telephones.

As it has been known from the early days of networking, an IP address of a computer inside a network is valid only inside the network. As soon as a computer connects to an external address through a router, the router carries out a NAT. Whenever a data packet is sent back to a computer on another network, it is sent to the router, and the IP address of the computer is visibly, the IP address of the router.

With more than 60% of American households Internet connections being wireless, there are numerous John Does piggybacking on unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

Also read about a similar ruling, that was passed by a judge in an Illinois case, last year.

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Chinmoy Kanjilal

Chinmoy Kanjilal is a FOSS enthusiast and evangelist. He is passionate about Android. Security exploits turn him on and he loves to tinker with computer networks. You can connect with him on Twitter @ckandroid.