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Replacing ISPs with IPAPs – How well have they done?

Posted on November 3, 2010

The Commerce Select Committee has reported back on the Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill (PDF).

One of the problems in the drafting of such a law is how to define what an ISP is. The obvious approach is "provides internet services" but what about a cafe that gives free wireless access to customers? Or a university that provides services to staff and students? The problem is a lot harder than it looks.

The latest report suggests replacing the definition of "Internet Service Provider" with one for "Internet Protocol Address Provider" or IPAP.

This would avoid ambiguity and focus on the function of an Internet service provider that is relevant to infringing file sharing, namely the provision of Internet protocol addresses.

Of course, this does no such thing as anyone providing any form of internet service must provide an "Internet protocol address" to each person using it. It's inherent to the nature of an Internet connection and, once again, shows that Government isn't very good at technology. Edit: This may be trying to protect providers of low level services such as cabling and fibre.

However, when we look at the full definition, maybe it's not so bad:

IPAP means a person that operates a business that, other than as an incidental feature of its main business activities,

(a) offers the transmission, routing and providing of connections for digital online communications, between or mong point specified by user, or material of the user's choosing; and

(ab) allocates IP addresses to its account holders; and

(b) charges its account holders for its services; and

(c) is not primarily operated to cater for transient users.

A discussed, the inclusion of "(ab) allocates IP addresses" seems a bit unnecessary but overall the definition seems to hold up under scrutiny.

  • Orcon and other ISPs would obviously be an IPAP.
  • Cafenet supports both transient and account-based users. Should it be an IPAP?
  • Universities and libraries would not be an IPAP because of (b) (there is no direct charging although student fees do include provision for services).
  • Someone sharing a connection with their friends would not be an IPAP because of (b).
  • Citylink would be an IPAP. (Should it be? See discussion in comments.)
  • The local coffee shop would not be an IPAP because of (b) and (c).
  • Would an Internet cafe be included? They do charge, the users vary between transient and regular.
  • Mobile data from Vodafone/Telecom/2 Degrees will not be included for now, because a separate clause delays their inclusion until 1 August 2013.

How have they done? Please help.

Can you think of any cases:

  • Where a person or company will be included as an IPAP that shouldn't be?
  • Where a person or company that should be an IPAP won't be?

Posted by Thomas Beagle

Comments (11) Trackbacks (0)
  1. You say Citylink would be an IPAP. I’d assert that they fail on (ab) – they don’t supply IP addresses to their customers for their Layer 2 services.

    There are also ambiguities about CafeNET – some customers are transient, some aren’t.

    What is meant by IP addresses? Publicly routable addresses? RFC1918 addresses that get NATed? IPv6 addresses? Will we have IPv6APs as well? :-)

    • Unsure if Citylink can escape that easily. WIX certainly provides addresses for customers (and, unless there’s been a substative change in structure, Citylink is WIX for all intents and purposes), out of 202.7.0.0/23.

      Given the lack of conditions on IP Address I’m assuming it’s taken as the whole 32-bit IPv4 space and the whole 128-bit IPv6 space. Also taken as read that ISPs who allocate a /64 to end users are covered, by the assumption the plural is implied by the singular.

      • All WIX users are Citylink users but not vice versa.

        WIX is an optional extra for a very large number of CityLink customers.

        The address range 202.7.0.0/23 is not globally routed – does this change things?

        What if I use IPX addresses on a Layer 2 Ethernet service?

      • (Replying to myself since I can’t reply to Andy, nesting fail.)

        Global routing doesn’t seem to be a condition, as the text just says allocates an IP address. You could allocate them out of RFC1918 and that would still count, even tho that’s not globally routable either.

        IPX over L2 would bypass this clause as would other L2 features like providing dark fibre, QinQ etc etc to customers. You’re not allocating Internet Protocol Addresses (as per the text of the bill, that’s the only definition there is.)

        Note that the definition of IPAP in other regards isn’t Internet-specific, just that it provides “digital communications” between places of the user’s chosing. I (am not a lawyer and I) think it probably could be stretched to Citylink, but it’s unlikely Citylink would ever be targetted.

        It is somewhat bizzare it’s broad-based in one clause and extremely technology-specific in another.

  2. I wonder about internet cafes..

    Certainly they do business with transient users, but I expect that some of them also have regular users, who have accounts. Is there a percentage threshold for “primarily”?

    • I assume that’s going to be left up to the courts to decide.

      I’m also very curious how the courts will go with “internet service is provided bundled with other services such as coffee (cafes) or tuition (universities)”. Will that mean that it is charged for or not?

  3. Cafenet is an interesting case, I have an account with cafenet (not simply an anonymous code ala the WCC libraries (still?) used to), I am being charged for it, but I’m not what could be called a regular user. Am I transient because I use it rarely, or am I not because I can be uniquely identified from my account name?

  4. I’m looking at that and wondering how to subvert it.

    It looks like, if you offer a NAT proxy instead of direct internet access, you’re fine? Or, perhaps you need to go a bit further and have a non-IP network inside with a gateway to IP. Are we going to see a return of NETBIOS to avoid stupid copyright legislation? :)

    I wonder what “incidental” means… Would a high school offering IP access to their boarding students be considered an IPAP?

  5. Someone sharing a connection with their friends would not be an IPAP because of (b).
    (a) offers the transmission, routing and providing of connections for digital online communications, between or mong point specified by user, or material of the user’s choosing; and
    (ab) allocates IP addresses to its account holders; and
    (b) charges its account holders for its services; and
    (c) is not primarily operated to cater for transient users.

    I offer the transmission, routing and providing of connections for digital online communications, between or mong point specified by user, or material of the user’s choosing.

    I supply internet/phone services to my household at a cost, that is I charge them for access to my internet connection.

    I also allocate IP addresses to these people. There is NO DHCP on my network, reason is that I monitor and charge for their data via their assigined IP

    I dont have transient users on my network

    Does this make me an IPAP?
    Of note is that I am not a business as such but do own/host over 15 websites from my connection.

  6. So if I as a home cable user let my son in his bedroom use the Internet by giving him an IP address on my broadband router and he pays his share of the monthly bandwidth does that make me an Ipap?

  7. You’re not operating a business, Jack, so no.

    I think it looks decent as a definition.


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