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"The government's filing supports the proposition that we have long advocated—copyright owners' have a clear and unambiguous entitlement to determine who is infringing their copyrights online."
——Matthew Oppenheim, RIAA Senior VP, Business and Legal Affairs
DOJ BACKS RIAA IN COPYRIGHT SUIT
Government Favors Music Industry in Verizon Dispute
The Bush administration is backing the RIAA in its dispute with Verizon Internet Services to identify subscribers that are illegally trading music files.

The Justice Department filed a brief Friday supporting the industry org's demand that Verizon reveal the name of the subscriber suspected of offering more than 600 songs from well-known artists.

The company had previously asked a federal judge to halt the subpoena requesting the subscriber's identity because it violated the First Amendment "protection of the expressive and associational interests of Internet users."

The Justice Department filing said the subpoena was legal and no First Amendment protection would be violated through disclosure of the name. The Justice Department brief contends that upholding copyright law itself would "promote First Amendment ideals."

The subpoena, the brief adds, "targets the identity of alleged copyright infringers, not spoken words or conduct commonly associated with expression."

A federal judge will now have to decide the constitutional issue, which is viewed as an important test of the 1998 law's applicability in Internet copyright cases.

"The government's filing supports the proposition that we have long advocated—copyright owners' have a clear and unambiguous entitlement to determine who is infringing their copyrights online, and that entitlement passes Constitutional muster," said Matthew Oppenheim, RIAA Senior VP, Business and Legal Affairs. "Verizon's persistent efforts to protect copyright thieves on pirate peer-to-peer networks will not succeed."

The music industry sought the subpoena under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which allows companies to force disclosure of Internet users' names without a judge's order.

The Justice Dept. upheld the subpoena and now a federal judge must decide on the constitutional issue, which will test the '98 law's relevenace in Internet copyright cases. The music industry continues to focus on major Internet Service Providers like Verizon as key in controlling online piracy.

The Justice Department filing comes as the recording industry is expanding its fight against illegal Internet content swapping. The RIAA earlier this month filed lawsuits against four college students who allegedly offered more than one million copies of popular recordings.

Those lawsuits, filed in New York, New Jersey and Michigan, demand that the sites be shut down and that the RIAA be paid damages of up to $150,000 per song.

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