Over the past few months, the recording industry has reached out and sued dozens of people who downloaded songs (probably) illegally from sites like Napster and Kazaa. All the RIAA can tell is the IP address of the file swapper.
An IP address is the main way a computer is identified on the Internet. For instance, you probably came to this site by going to www.geofffox.com. Your Internet service provider, using a DNS server, translates that for you into a series of numbers (4 groups of numbers 0-255). geofffox.com is really 220.127.116.11… click it and see.
This computer I’m on now also has an IP address, as does the one you’re using. Every computer on the Internet has an IP address.
If the RIAA knows a file swapper had IP address 10.1.255.255, they can go to a central registry and see who the address is owned by. Most likely it’s not owned by the user, but by an Internet Service Provider, like SNET/SBC here in Connecticut. So, to find the culprit, they the have to ask SNET/SBC – and they have been saying no.
In the article, they take the high road. God bless them. But, I think there is something else at stake here as well. If companies and individuals are going to start using cable providers, phone companies and ISP’s as their private investigators, there will be lots of money spent and ill will received by the cable companies, telcos and ISP’s. I don’t think they want the responsibility nor do they want to be put in the position of being forced to monitor their customers movements across the net.
There is still a great deal of misinformation, with people thinking their anonymous when they surf or email. It’s just not so. You leave a trail much more easily followed than bread crumbs for all to see.
One more thing – off the topic a bit. If you’re not in Connecticut, you probably don’t recognize SNET, Southern New England Telephone. It is a very old name, associated with the earliest telephone interconnections. It was not a Bell company. Its name will soon disappear beneath the banner of SBC. That will be our small loss in Connecticut.
A few years ago, when dealing with an out of state vendor, who needed to know my phone company, he kept referring to them as “S-NET”, as if it were some Silicon Valley high tech startup. Nothing could be further from the truth.
I will miss the name when it disappears; another sign of the ‘nationalizing’ of big business.