Sunday, December 04, 2005

Legal weight of IP addresses and files in P2P networks

An article about the mistaken and fraudulent role the RIAA is trying to use IP addresses and files or lists in. These should be ruled inadmissible! Posted in Ray Beckerman's (lawyer for the case involving the single mother vs. RIAA) blog.:

"Hello Mr. Beckerman, I have read somewhat of the articles regarding this case on Slashdot and would like to point out something potentially very important to the trial, which is severely overlooked or downplayed to the detriment of the clarity of the issues of these types of cases.
"Specifically, the use of IP address and lists of files (file names and/or the actual CRC or hash verified binary data) as "proof" in these cases.
"Firstly, I must raise several points in regards to IP addresses and what exactly possession of a particular IP address means in the context of "file sharing" and in regards to who exactly is responsible for anything happening to or from the isolated computer.
"IP addresses are an identifier used to locate a particular network interface on the Internet. Be this a router, a PC, Mac, PDA, mobile phone or otherwise (with modules capable of utilizing one ranging to the size of a finger nail). IP addresses are not proof that a particular TYPE (PC running Windows, Linux or other free software, PDA, mobile phone, etc.) of computer hardware was used in the transmission. Nothing about this hardware can be *assumed*, and also nothing about the users IF ANY, of this hardware. So, I define my second point, which is that these electronic devices (of the types I listed above) may be operated without regard to physical location or the actual OWNER of the IP address.
"This is of importance because a third party may be ENTIRELY and UTTERLY responsible for what ever incident caused the inquiry, without knowledge, consent, or implied or otherwise condolence of the actual or implied owners, who ever that may be. The operations of the owner's (as defined above) computer may be taken over to such an extent that the owner would not even be aware of programs running constantly (contrary to the popular *assumption*) WHILE IN USE by said owner.
"Now, I must make several points with regards to the lists of "songs" or files, and/or any binary data gathered that may be linked to the server's copy based on hashing techniques et cetera.
"Firstly, I must point out that the method by which "sharing programs" (defined as those such as KazAa, Gnutella networks, Grokster etc.) track users and their IP addresses. Here, one must note that the IP address reported may or may not actually be the IP address hosting these "files" in the first place. The reported IP address may be KNOWINGLY ALTERED by third parties. The implication here being that one may find a suitable IP address and "report" it to the larger network to avoid the *actual* IP address from being discovered and targeted for legal action.
"Furthermore, I now must point out that file names HAVE NO LEGAL WEIGHT, implied or otherwise, due to the nature of FILE SYSTEMS. Any file may be named, "Britney Spears - [Example Song].mp3" without any assumptions being made to anything OTHER than the "string" of characters which this song's title consists of. I.e. I can name my Excel spreadsheet "Britney Spears-....mp3" but that doesn't mean that the actual content of the file will be different.
"Lastly, the way that the majority of "sharing programs" are designed to operate is on a "peer to peer" basis, possibly with servers non-existant or only hosting the "tracking" of said "peers" (a peer in this case also not making any assumption to what the hardware or who the owner, is, including the actual USE OF THE PROGRAM TO ACCESS THE NETWORK. Meaning we can run apparent "servers" from that finger nail sized chip I mentioned before), and also between MANY-to-one connections of these peers. What is important about the "many to one" aspect mentioned previously, is that this means that often only small, compartmentalized "chunks" of data are coming from multiple "peers," rather than one peer copying an "entire song" directly to the remote "peer." So any given client may have as little involvement in a given distribution to a remote client as a single packet of 8 0s or 1s (ex. 10100110). This makes any "compensation" fee to be gathered based on supposed "songs" to be unrealistic given the VERIFIABLE lack of involvement of the server "peer." How much worth do 8 bits carry? $7500? So you see my point."

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