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Court rules Internet IP addresses are not people


“I am not an IP number, I am a free man!” OK, so that’s not exactly what actor Patrick McGoohan said in the classic TV show, The Prisoner, but Number 6 would have agreed that people aren’t numbers, and they certainly aren’t their Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. And, now a U.S. District Court has ruled that an IP address is not the same thing as a person’s identification.

This current decision came about because of a recent wave of copyright owners filing approximately 100,000 lawsuits against file sharers based on their IP addresses. Mind you, the organizations, such as the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) know that lawsuits don’t actually stop file piracy. In a recent statement to the Commerce Department these groups and their allies wrote, “The role of lawsuits in solving the online theft problem is clearly limited “For instance, bringing clear-cut claims against major commercial infringers is not by itself a solution in the long run. These cases take years to litigate and are an enormous resource drain.”

That hasn’t stopped them though from suing file-sharing services, such as Lime Wire for, I kid you not, $75 trillion in damages. This recent wave of lawsuits isn’t about taking a leading file-sharing service out behind the barn for a whipping. No, this recent lawsuit flood was designed to scare individual file sharers using services such as BitTorrent from sharing files.

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