Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

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#36 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by Amy » 22 Aug 2014 22:05

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#37 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 28 Apr 2016 22:43

Hello, this is my first post here. I've been reading this forum for a little while and I'm just catching up with this old thread. In particular, I'm curious about the applications to the court mentioned in #1.
jasonDWB wrote:I issued the crime number given to me by police
May I ask, what was the nature of the crime for which the crime number was handed out? Apologies if this was described elsewhere.
jasonDWB wrote:and made an application to court to make over the name and address of the webmaster (court fee, £400) Order was granted without a hearing

I wrote to the webmaster at home with requests to remove the material from his website. All were ignored. I applied for an Order to remove which was granted without a hearing.
What sort of applications were these and under which laws were they requested?

The reason I ask this is because I know it is possible to apply to the courts for orders to compel service providers to hand over the name/address of a person behind a website or an IP address but I don't know of anyone except a mega corporation who has actually done it! I'm am therefore quite curious to know what the original criminal complaint was (that resulted in a crime number being issued) and what laws were used to support the applications.

Thanks!

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#38 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by Amy » 28 Apr 2016 23:03

It is not possible to ascertain a person's identity from an IP address, it is only possible for the ISP to ascertain the account holder's name.

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#39 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 28 Apr 2016 23:41

Amy wrote:It is not possible to ascertain a person's identity from an IP address, it is only possible for the ISP to ascertain the account holder's name.
It depends on the context and on how directly you mean.

If you want to obtain the identity of the webmaster or owner of a website then you need the service provider who hosts the site to give you the details (beyond relying on whatever the webmaster may publish on the site or elsewhere or looking at the WHOIS records for related domains). This was, if I understand correctly, the context of Jason's initial post.

If, on the other hand, you have the IP address of, say, a user of a website and you want to obtain their identity information then you need to approach their ISP and get them to give you their customer's details. In this scenario, it most certainly is possible (for the user's ISP) to ascertain a person's identity from an IP address.

Lastly, for completeness, if you want to obtain the identity of a user of a website (such as a forum) and you do not already have their IP address then technically speaking you need to follow a two step process: First get the website to hand over the user's IP address and then, as above, get his or her ISP to hand over their customer's details.

I'm very familiar with the technical details here and about what information is or is not usually logged. It's just the legal details and the supporting laws used to obtain court orders to compel service providers (e.g. ISPs, hosting providers, etc.) to hand over IP addresses and/or user or customer details that I am curious about.

As I mentioned, I've not known anyone to do this except police forces or mega corporations.

Actually, I've just re-read Jason's initial post and he says:
jasonDWB wrote:I issued the crime number given to me by police and made an application to court to make over the name and address of the webmaster (court fee, £400) Order was granted without a hearing
Initially I assume that the order was against the website's hosting provider (who could hand over details of their customer, the webmaster) but was the order against the police?

Either way, I'd be very interested to know the laws used.

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#40 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 28 Apr 2016 23:50

For the sake of completeness...
freeview wrote:If, on the other hand, you have the IP address of, say, a user of a website and you want to obtain their identity information then you need to approach their ISP and get them to give you their customer's details. In this scenario, it most certainly is possible (for the user's ISP) to ascertain a person's identity from an IP address.
For example, you're an admin here so you presumably have access to the site's IP logs, so you could see my IP address. In theory therefore you could apply for an order from the court to compel my ISP to divulge my name and address. This is the legal technique that copyright protection organisations use. Although I know they can and do do it, I am unaware of the exact methods used.

I should also add that the above statement about compelling an ISP to divulge its customer's identity from their IP address assumes that the user is directly accessing the resource at which their IP address was found. If the user is accessing the resource via a proxy or VPN then, technically speaking and probably legally speaking, it can get a lot more difficult. In that case you have more technical steps to go through to find the user's real IP address and thus real identity and may have to deal with jurisdictions outside the UK and with organisations that intentionally do not keep logs.

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#41 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by Pote Snitkin » 29 Apr 2016 10:46

This is a very odd thread.
It is the first responsibility of every citizen to question authority. - Benjamin Franklin

On 22/2/17, Peterbard said "taking control of goods and selling them does not actually mean taking control of goods and selling them." Discuss.

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#42 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by Amy » 29 Apr 2016 10:54

freeview wrote:For example, you're an admin here so you presumably have access to the site's IP logs, so you could see my IP address. In theory therefore you could apply for an order from the court to compel my ISP to divulge my name and address. This is the legal technique that copyright protection organisations use. Although I know they can and do do it, I am unaware of the exact methods used.
As I've already said and supposing anyone other than a large company could be bothered, all I would get is the name and address of the account holder, which may or may not be who is posting here with your username.

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#43 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by Michelle » 29 Apr 2016 11:16

freeview wrote:If, on the other hand, you have the IP address of, say, a user of a website and you want to obtain their identity information then you need to approach their ISP and get them to give you their customer's details. In this scenario, it most certainly is possible (for the user's ISP) to ascertain a person's identity from an IP address.
You can't ascertain a PERSON'S identity from an IP address even if you got the ISP to provide you with their customer's details. They may be able to match up an IP allocated to one of their customers at any given time, but that doesn't mean you can assert their identity. WiFi allows multiple devices to share an IP. I could be sharing a house with another five people who may or may not be related to me, plus any guests they may have who would bring their own phones and tablets to the house and may have been given the P/W to log in to WiFi. If it turns out that someone was downloading child porn and the ISP tracked it down to the IP allocated to my house, I could hardly be convicted of such a crime on the strength of an IP address.

An ISP could only disclose that information with a court order compelling them to do so, otherwise it would be a major breach of the DPA and no ISP would go there.
freeview wrote: For example, you're an admin here so you presumably have access to the site's IP logs, so you could see my IP address. In theory therefore you could apply for an order from the court to compel my ISP to divulge my name and address.
You could APPLY for anything you wish, however, a court would only grant the order if you managed to convince the court that there is a good reason to grant it. Court orders are not something that you can simply "buy" by paying the application fee. Even the police have to make a good case to get a court to grant an order.
freeview wrote:This is the legal technique that copyright protection organisations use. Although I know they can and do do it, I am unaware of the exact methods used.
What organisations are you referring to?
freeview wrote: I should also add that the above statement about compelling an ISP to divulge its customer's identity from their IP address assumes that the user is directly accessing the resource at which their IP address was found. If the user is accessing the resource via a proxy or VPN then, technically speaking and probably legally speaking, it can get a lot more difficult. In that case you have more technical steps to go through to find the user's real IP address and thus real identity and may have to deal with jurisdictions outside the UK and with organisations that intentionally do not keep logs.
There are many ways to access websites without revealing your IP address, the easiest one is probably just to use the TOR browser, you can also connect via a VPN service such as Hide My Ass and a few others. HMA is even used by people in China and Dubai to bypass government website blocks.

There is a difference between ISPs (who provide your internet connection) and hosting companies (who host websites for you). ISPs operating in the UK have to abide by the laws applicable in the UK and you can't get a non-UK ISP to provide you with broadband services in the UK, however, you are free to host websites in any country of your choice.

Hosting companies are bound by the laws of the countries where they are based. If they are outside the UK, they are not bound by UK laws and can even ignore orders issued by English courts. A lot of sites that breach UK, EU and US copyright laws are based in countries outside those jurisdictions, as are sites dedicated to promote illegal activities, for that reason.

You are a new member who only signed up last night to ask about obtaining details about website posters even though this is a bailiff forum rather than one dedicated to intellectual property, is there a particular reason for your questions? If you give us a bit more info, some of us may be able to help further, depending on what you'd like to achieve.
Listen very carefully, I shall post this only once:
Anything posted by me is from my own knowledge and experience, it is not legal advice or the official views of this forum.

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#44 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 29 Apr 2016 14:50

Amy wrote:As I've already said and supposing anyone other than a large company could be bothered, all I would get is the name and address of the account holder, which may or may not be who is posting here with your username.
The name and address of the account holder, their identity, is the target here.

I agree that this does not in and of itself tell you who is posting from a particular IP address but it's a significant step in the right direction.

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#45 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 29 Apr 2016 15:16

Michelle wrote:You can't ascertain a PERSON'S identity from an IP address even if you got the ISP to provide you with their customer's details.
In practice, it is often the case that the account holder's name and address is adequate for many purposes. It is certainly the target of my question in this context.
Michelle wrote:They may be able to match up an IP allocated to one of their customers at any given time, but that doesn't mean you can assert their identity. WiFi allows multiple devices to share an IP. I could be sharing a house with another five people who may or may not be related to me, plus any guests they may have who would bring their own phones and tablets to the house and may have been given the P/W to log in to WiFi. If it turns out that someone was downloading child porn and the ISP tracked it down to the IP allocated to my house, I could hardly be convicted of such a crime on the strength of an IP address.
These are all potentially good arguments but of course all depends on the circumstances and further investigation.

I do accept what you say, that the name and address associated with an IP address at a particular time does not directly tell one who was active on that IP address at that particular time.
Michelle wrote:An ISP could only disclose that information with a court order compelling them to do so, otherwise it would be a major breach of the DPA and no ISP would go there.
I know! That is why I am asking what is that legal basis that Jason used for his applications to the court.

In his case, he was asking for the identity of the owner of the website (i.e. the name and address of the customer of a hosting provider) but the principle (in terms of compelling service providers to divulge customer information) is identical to finding the name and address of the ISP customer whose account happened to be using an IP address at a particular time.
Michelle wrote:You could APPLY for anything you wish, however, a court would only grant the order if you managed to convince the court that there is a good reason to grant it. Court orders are not something that you can simply "buy" by paying the application fee. Even the police have to make a good case to get a court to grant an order.
I know! This is specifically why I am asking what the basis of Jason's applications were and what the underlying law was. I thought my question was clear.
Michelle wrote:What organisations are you referring to?
Activision is one company that I know has obtained court orders in the UK, very similar to Jason's, to compel service providers to hand over customer details of alleged misusers (identified by IP address) of the company's intellectual property. Organisations that have used similar legal techniques include the British Software Alliance and, I believe, Federation Against Copyright Theft.

I am not making here any moral judgement about the presumptions they make or the techniques they yse and, as I say, I take your point that name and address of account holder does not directly lead to identity of actual user at the time, but this I know that this is what they do. What I do not know is the legal basis for their court applications. Since Jason referred to using a similar technique, I thought it was a good opportunity to find out more from someone who had actually done it.
Michelle wrote:There are many ways to access websites without revealing your IP address, the easiest one is probably just to use the TOR browser, you can also connect via a VPN service such as Hide My Ass and a few others. HMA is even used by people in China and Dubai to bypass government website blocks.

There is a difference between ISPs (who provide your internet connection) and hosting companies (who host websites for you). ISPs operating in the UK have to abide by the laws applicable in the UK and you can't get a non-UK ISP to provide you with broadband services in the UK, however, you are free to host websites in any country of your choice.
I know. I am an IT consultant. As I say, I am (very!) familiar of the technicalities involved. It is the legal aspects I was querying.
Michelle wrote:Hosting companies are bound by the laws of the countries where they are based. If they are outside the UK, they are not bound by UK laws and can even ignore orders issued by English courts. A lot of sites that breach UK, EU and US copyright laws are based in countries outside those jurisdictions, as are sites dedicated to promote illegal activities, for that reason.
I know. My question was, obviously I thought, about UK laws and UK companies, the ones under which Jason obtained a court order.
Michelle wrote:You are a new member who only signed up last night to ask about obtaining details about website posters even though this is a bailiff forum rather than one dedicated to intellectual property, is there a particular reason for your questions?
As I said, I am curious about he underlying law. As I also said, I had never know of anyone who had actually obtained such court orders (other than massive organisations or companies). I thought it was be a simple question.
freeview wrote:If you give us a bit more info, some of us may be able to help further, depending on what you'd like to achieve.
Do you know what the underlying law was that Jason used?

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#46 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 29 Apr 2016 15:18

Pote Snitkin wrote:This is a very odd thread.
Sorry. I asked what I thought was a trivially simple question about the legal process that Jason used. I didn't expect to be cross-examined about why I was asking or for the discussion to for it to trail off into a side-discussion on the technicalities.

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#47 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 29 Apr 2016 15:21

Oops, this...
I didn't expect to be cross-examined about why I was asking or for the discussion to for it to trail off into a side-discussion on the technicalities.
... should have read as follows:
I didn't expect to be cross-examined about why I was asking or for the discussion to trail off into a side-discussion on the technicalities.
I really thought my question was absolutely plain, simple and obvious and did not require additional explanation.

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#48 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by Amy » 29 Apr 2016 15:31

Clearly you were wrong.

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#49 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 29 Apr 2016 15:32

Amy wrote:Clearly you were wrong.
About it being a simple question? So it seems!

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#50 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 29 Apr 2016 15:49

I was prompted to do some research elsewhere and I discovered that a Norwich Pharmacal Order may be relevant for this type of information disclosure.

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#51 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by Michelle » 29 Apr 2016 16:27

freeview wrote: Sorry. I asked what I thought was a trivially simple question about the legal process that Jason used. I didn't expect to be cross-examined about why I was asking or for the discussion to for it to trail off into a side-discussion on the technicalities.
If you went to seek legal advice anywhere, they would all ask you questions in order to be able to properly advice. This is not a legal advice centre but the principle is similar, in that, if you don't tell us what you are looking for, then we can't provide you with a suitable answer. You are under no obligation to provide details, however, if you don't, then we are all left shooting in the dark. As you are posting under an assumed username, you could easily tell your story without identifying yourself. That would make it easier to comment. If you look at the other threads on this forum, you'll find most people post something like: "Marstons are after me for an unpaid fine" rather than "I'd like to know what I could do if a bailiff company was chasing me for a debt."
Listen very carefully, I shall post this only once:
Anything posted by me is from my own knowledge and experience, it is not legal advice or the official views of this forum.

Knowledge is Power.

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#52 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by Michelle » 29 Apr 2016 16:38

freeview wrote:I was prompted to do some research elsewhere and I discovered that a Norwich Pharmacal Order may be relevant for this type of information disclosure.
Such orders are usually part of court proceedings and the information obtained can only be used within the realm of those proceedings, and you would be liable for costs. We can't just tell you to go ahead and apply for one without having the full facts, that would be irresponsible.
Listen very carefully, I shall post this only once:
Anything posted by me is from my own knowledge and experience, it is not legal advice or the official views of this forum.

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#53 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 29 Apr 2016 16:51

Michelle wrote:If you went to seek legal advice anywhere, they would all ask you questions in order to be able to properly advice.
Indeed so. I am not seeking legal advice. I am (or was) seeking specific answers to specific questions so as to satisfy my curiosity. Whilst they were questions about a legal issue, it certainly was not legal advice I was seeking. I also recognise that they are not the main subject of this forum but my questions were concise and the answers could have been concise too.
Michelle wrote:if you don't tell us what you are looking for, then we can't provide you with a suitable answer.
Surely I did say what I was look for. Message #37 contains my questions. These set out in reasonably succinct and concise terms what I was looking for. :-)
Michelle wrote:As you are posting under an assumed username, you could easily tell your story without identifying yourself.
There is no story to tell. I was just curious.

I say there is no story but I can expand a bit on why I am curious: As I mentioned, I am an IT consultant and I've often thought that sooner or later I'd have a client who needed to obtain information disclosure of the sort in question here. So far it's never happened and I put it to the back of my mind: If ever it was needed then my client would naturally consult a solicitor. However, despite putting it to the back of my mind, I nevertheless wanted to know an outline of how to obtain such a court order and what its legal basis was -- just for the sake of knowing. As you sig say, knowledge is power. Previously I had never heard of anyone except very large companies or organisations successfully obtaining such an order but when I saw that Jason had done so I thought that this was an ideal time and place to ask how, considering he mentioned it here.
Michelle wrote:That would make it easier to comment. If you look at the other threads on this forum, you'll find most people post something like: "Marstons are after me for an unpaid fine" rather than "I'd like to know what I could do if a bailiff company was chasing me for a debt."
I rather think my questions in #37 were even more precise than that: The questions were not open-ended in any way; they were precise and limited in their scope.

Anyway, prompted by this discussion I finally went off and found out about Norwich Pharmacal Orders. There's a very informative overview of them here: http://uk.practicallaw.com/0-211-3137?service=ld#
Michelle wrote:We can't just tell you to go ahead and apply for one without having the full facts, that would be irresponsible.
Indeed. I have sought no such advice. My questions were exactly as stated in #37. I have in effect now answered the questions myself. Perhaps the knowledge will come in useful one day but, until then, it simply satisfies my desire to have an overview.

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#54 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by jasonDWB » 29 Apr 2016 17:30

To get the name and address of an account holder for an IP number you need four things.
  • 1. A crime number. It doesn't matter if the police don't investigate it. A crime number will suffice
    2. An IP number.
    3. URL or domain name of the website. but full URL helps the ISP identify the MAC address of the device that visited the website
    4. Time stamp. When the offence, or forum post was made.
If the ISP is unresponsive in assisting you, because of the data protection act, then you make an application to court on a form N16a accompanied by a witness statement. Name the ISP as the respondent. Give evidence such as screen captures of the forum post or webpage. Give the legislation contravened, e.g. Protection from Harassment Act (Stalking), Defamation Act etc and include a print hard copy of the Act.

The application can be granted or refused. It can be done without a hearing.

If granted, a copy goes to the ISP and they deliver the name and address of the bill payer within the time limit ordered by the court.

If you don't have an IP number, the following procedure will only work if the web host is within UK jurisdiction. Using Whois, get the hostmaster name. Do a companies house director search. He is the respondent who delivers the name and address of the bill payer (usually the card details used to pay the account) for the website hosted. You make the Form N16a application to have the hostmaster make over the bill payers details for the domain name hosted.

In either case, you don't have to tell the webmaster or hostmaster you doing this. The application is called an ex-parte application, which means you are making the application without telling the respondent.

If you can show the court the webmaster or the hostmaster, or both, are uncooperative or frustrative, and the problem could have otherwise been solved, you can ask for your costs. If your costs are not settled, a charging order can be applied and you can search the directors name on HM Land registry to identify any registered land owed. It doesn't matter if the website or hostmaster is a company. The order is always addressed to the director who is the respondent. He is personally liable for complying with the Order.
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#55 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 29 Apr 2016 18:21

Jason, thank you very much indeed. That's very informative.

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#56 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by freeview » 29 Apr 2016 18:22

I greatly appreciate you taking the time to write up the information and post it here.

(Meant to add this to my message above)

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#57 Re: Tomtubby lands webmaster with £1600 legal bill

Post by Amy » 02 May 2016 12:12

freeview wrote:Activision is one company that I know has obtained court orders in the UK, very similar to Jason's, to compel service providers to hand over customer details of alleged misusers (identified by IP address) of the company's intellectual property. Organisations that have used similar legal techniques include the British Software Alliance and, I believe, Federation Against Copyright Theft.
I am not sure where you are heading with this, but with regard to the above, you are getting confused.

British courts have repeatedly cast doubt over the validity of identifying individuals using nothing more than their IP address. 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." Obtaining the required legal order to force an ISP to identify a customer from an IP address may not be difficult, but proving beyond reasonable doubt that it was the same customer breaking the law certainly is.

TYCK was another one, they spent around £30,000 on Sky's legal costs to obtain the names and addresses of customers relating to IPs and all for nothing. The only money they could ever hope to recoup is from the people too scared to realise TYCK had nothing and so paid the £600 they were demanding as 'compensation'.

I suspect, rather than the above where you mention Activision, you are pursuing the closure of a website and also as above, are confusing the two issues.

Jason's case was justified and the defamatory material should have been removed when he first requested it because it was, well - defamatory. The removal was not merely requested because he did not like the content.

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