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"[Verizon] had not shown so great a likelihood of success on the merits as to outweigh the clearly greater harm that would occur to the RIAA if the stay were granted."
——U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on Verizon's attempt to stay the subpoena to give up names to the RIAA

COURT’S VERIZON DECISION ON
FILE-SHARING TO GO TO SENATE

Decision to Force ISPs to Give Up Names Is Challenged by Brownback, as RIAA Is Backed by Film Studios, Others
The U.S. Senate will now consider whether privacy trumps piracy in the ongoing battle by the RIAA to get Verizon and other ISPs to release the names of illegal file sharers.

In exchange for the Senate Commerce Committee conducting a hearing on the issue, Kansas Republican Senator Sam Brownback has agreed not to push legislation that would have overturned the recent court ruling that upholds the RIAA’s right to demand the names of subscribers suspected of pirating intellectual property. That ruling was a key provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allowed organizations to subpoena the names of alleged copyright offenders.

Brownback, the major phone companies and ISPs want to force copyright holders to file a lawsuit to get the names of offending parties. The existing legislation makes those names available from a federal court clerk.

"This is not about piracy," says Brownback. "It’s about privacy."

Arizona Senator John McCain consented to the hearing after the Brownback planned to attach his bill as an amendment to legislation re-authorizing the Federal Trade Commission.

Federal District Court Judge John Bates recently ruled in favor of the RIAA when he ordered Verizon to give them the identities of two alleged offenders. The U.S. Court of Appeals recently denied Verizon’s request to stay the enforcement of the subpoena, indicating the company "had not shown so great a likelihood of success on the merits as to outweigh the clearly greater harm that would occur to the RIAA if the stay were granted."

Verizon has since given the organization the identity of two other alleged pirates, while Earthlink has offered up one. The RIAA sent cease-and-desist letters to all five this week.

In Bates’ original opinion, he countered Verizon’s contention that the subpoena provision of the bill was unconstitutional because it violated the First Amendment and their customers’ free speech rights by "piercing their anonymity."

Bates countered that Verizon’s claim was outweighed by the harm "an illegal activity was causng legitimate copyright holders."

Meanwhile, two separate organizations filed an amici curiae brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals in DC of behalf of the RIAA’s case, including the MPAA, Writer’s Guild, BMI, Screen Actor’s Guild, AFTRA, as well as the NFL and Major League Baseball.

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