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How IP addresses are obtained

I work at a college where we routinely get e-mail from third party vendors -- hired by the music industry -- telling us that someone (identified by an IP address they provide us) is sharing copyrighted music through a peer-to-peer service. We deal with each of these. My question is: How does the company get the IP address of the individual that initially uses a service like KaZaA, Morpheus or one of the others?

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This is sometimes done with and without a subpoena through law enforcement agencies. Since this is both an FBI and postal issue (USPS does many Internet services), I would direct your questions to your local FBI agent and Postal Inspector. They should be able to walk you through the process or provide better focus.

In the past when I did consultant work, I was required to do the same but with MS, AOL and others. We did it all through subpoena. Per the Patriot Act you may not need a subpoena based on the damage and proof you can provide. Again, this is law enforcement and should be handled as such.

For more information on this topic, visit these other resources:
Executive Security Briefing: The Patriot Act and Carnivore: Reasons for concern?
Best Web Links: Law, Public Policy & Standards

This was first published in February 2003

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