RIAA Responds to IP Address Conundrum

IT ManagementLeave a Comment

Share this Post

Recently, it was reported that, via the YouHaveDownloaded.com tracking tool, IP addresses assigned to the RIAA were responsible for downloading copyrighted content, the very act the entity opposes.

While this could come across as an "egg on your face" scenario, especially in light of the Gilberto Sanchez verdict, the RIAA was quick to respond to these findings with something resulting in a "it wasn't us" response. In a CNet article, quotes from RIAA spokesperson Jonathan Lamy indicates as much:

"We checked the block of IP addresses allocated to RIAA staff to access the Internet and no RIAA employee was responsible for this alleged use of bittorrent" ... Lamy had an explanation for that that implies that a third-party vendor was responsible for the downloads. "Those partial IP addresses are similar to block addresses assigned to RIAA. However, those addresses are used by a third party vendor to serve up our public Web site," he said. "As I said earlier, they are not used by RIAA staff to access the Internet."

With that in mind, Ernesto, the TorrentFreak writer responsible for the initial RIAA-outing article, wondered, "If official records can be wrong as the RIAA claims, then this would mean they probably accused people wrongfully also."

From there, WebProNews asked the RIAA in an email about the false accusations related to IP address and received the following email response:

We have not suggested that the official records of IP addresses assigned to the RIAA are mistaken, however, the real issue is how and whether IP addresses assigned to the RIAA were captured. The methodology employed by the RIAA to identify IP addresses is no secret, has been validated by independent experts, and has never been successfully challenged in court.

As for the TorrentFreak story, assuming the IP addresses were validly identified and they are in a range assigned to the RIAA, the allegation that RIAA staff used BitTorrent is inaccurate. The RIAA has two sets of distinct IP addresses managed by two different ISPs and used for two distinct purposes. One set is used by our staff to access the internet and the other set is used by a third party off site vendor to serve up our website to the public and is not even accessible by our staff. The partial IP addresses cited in the original TorrentFreak story are possibly consistent with the block of IP addresses associated exclusively with our public website, and bare no relationship to the separate block of IP addresses used for Internet access by our staff.

We have no idea whether the data referenced in the story is real or, if real, how it was acquired. I would check the bottom of the website, youhavedownloaded.com. Lower left hand corner. It says "don't take it too seriously" and "it's all a joke." It doesn't sound like the website creators consider the finding to be "official records" (to use your term), so I'd tread carefully before you give this story (or website) any credence in the first place. It's possibly a hoax.

While the people that run YouHaveDownloaded.com maintain their data is accurate, their "it's all a joke" disclaimer gives the RIAA all the deniability it needs to discount these findings, whether they are precise or not.

Furthermore, the portion about the separate IP addresses, a block for employees and a block for third party developers who produce content for the RIAA site, gives the RIAA further room to essentially disregard the "findings," although, it's hard not to wonder if the RIAA will investigate whether or not any of those third party IP addresses were responsible for the downloads in question, and what, exactly, the punitive reaction would be, if any.

Leave a Reply