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Can your IP Address Legally Identify you?

“Identifying individuals using nothing more than their IP address has become a key part of anti-piracy and criminal investigations. But just how reliable is such IP address evidence?

British courts have recently begun to cast doubt over its validity. The use of IP addresses to tie individuals to illegal downloads was a tactic employed by ACS Law, which sent letters demanding up to £500 compensation on behalf of copyright holders whose intellectual property was said to have been stolen.

At a hearing where 27 of these cases came to court, Judge Birss QC suggested that ACS Law had “materially overstated the untested merits” of using IP addresses in this way, and questioned if the process of simply identifying an IP address could establish a copyright infringement by anyone related to it. “Even if it is proof of infringement by somebody,” Judge Birss said, “the fact that someone may have infringed does not mean the particular named defendant has done so.””

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