Earlier this week, I went on the Australian Broadcast Corporation’s Triple J youth radio program Hack to discuss an Aussie who received a “cease and desist” notice from a copyright holder for downloading the rights holder’s movie illicitly.
The user was surprised she got busted because she was using a VPN.
But as I pointed out on the program, a VPN does not necessarily make you anonymous online. In fact, just like your internet service provider, a VPN is a gateway to the internet, which means that the provide behind it can see pretty much everything you do online unless the traffic is encrypted.
Even so, the IP address your VPN allocates you can be identified by copyright holders, who can then request the VPN provider to pass a notice on to you.
Whether they take the next step of trying to sue you is their call. But they are well within their rights in many jurisdictions to do so by issuing a subpoena to the VPN to reveal your identity.