Quantcast
"Now that the court has ordered Verizon to live up to its obligation under the law, we look forward to contacting the account holder whose identity we were seeking so we can let them know that what they are doing is illegal."
——Cary Sherman, RIAA
JUDGE ORDERS VERIZON TO GIVE UP MEGA-SWAPPER
It’s Privacy vs. Piracy as RIAA Wins Round in District Court—But Are Rights-Holders Downloading More Trouble?
In what could be a watershed decision in the industry’s struggle against unauthorized online file-swapping—and in the history of Internet privacy—a federal judge has granted a motion filed by the RIAA and ordered Internet service provider Verizon to surrender the name of a subscriber charged with sharing hundreds of tracks on the Web.

Judge John D. Bates of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. ruled that Verizon must comply with a subpoena filed by the RIAA, on behalf of the Big Five, demanding to know the identity of the subscriber.

The issue has been widely viewed as a test case for a provision in 1998’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which requires the removal of copyrighted material once notice is received that the use of the said material isn’t authorized. The anonymous user is accused of making over 600 copyrighted tracks available online through a peer-to-peer service.

"[U]nder Verizon's reading of the Act, a significant amount of potential copyright infringement would be shielded from the subpoena authority of the DMCA," Judge Bates ruled. "That would, in effect, give Internet copyright infringers shelter from the long arm of the DMCA subpoena power, and allow infringement to flourish."

More sweepingly, the Judge added, "It is also clear that the First Amendment does not protect copyright infringement... Nor is this an instance where the anonymity of an
Internet user merits free speech and privacy protections."

"We appreciate the court's decision, which validates our interpretation of the law," reads a statement from RIAA prexy Cary Sherman. "The illegal distribution of music on the Internet is a serious issue for musicians, songwriters and other copyright owners, and the record companies have made great strides in addressing this problem by educating consumers and providing them with legitimate alternatives. Now that the court has ordered Verizon to live up to its obligation under the law, we look forward to contacting the account holder whose identity we were seeking so we can let them know that what they are doing is illegal."

Verizon had resisted compliance on the grounds that ISPs enjoy "safe harbor" exemption from such demands. Of course, the provider must now worry about the fallout it could face from ratting out a customer. The company’s website declares, "The privacy and security of your personal information is our #1 priority," though Verizon does say plainly that exceptions will be made where "required by law."

So must the biz. Already suffering on the PR side for the RIAA’s campaign against swapcos, the majors could get an even bigger black eye in the press if they’re perceived as waging war against dorm-room kids giving away music for free—and getting unfettered access to citizens’ identities and habits.

Then again, if this precedent has a chilling effect on P2P activity, perhaps the industry can withstand the assault.

"It sets a dangerous precedent when the accusation of piracy can force an ISP to reveal personal and private information without true judicial overview," said Joe Kraus, founder of users’ rights group Digital Consumer. "Now the RIAA can be judge and jury when it comes to deciding whose personal information they want to see. The chance for error is very high, and the risk to privacy is very high as well."

Today’s ruling is likely to be appealed, though no plans to that effect have thus far been announced.

NEAR TRUTHS:
THE CAKE AND
THE CANDLES
Marketshare machers. (10/26a)
KDOTTED LINE
A pending deal fro Kendrick. (10/26a)
YTD MARKETSHARE: AND THE WINNER IS...
It's a lock. (10/26a)
CHART STORY: TAY
MAKES IT EIGHT
Adding to her chart 'lore. (10/23a)
ONCE IN A LIFETIME
Vote. Do it now. (10/26a)
RAINMAKERS 2020
Bring your umbrella.
GRAMMY OUTLIERS
Mulling possible surprises.
HALLOWEEN IN QUARANTINE
Why not wear a mask indoors?
ELECTION 2020
What drugs will help us get there?
 Email

 First Name

 Last Name

 Company

 Country
CAPTCHA code
Captcha: (type the characters above)