December 19th, 2003, 15:20 PM
Record Industry May Not Subpoena Providers
A federal appeals court on Friday rejected efforts by the recording industry to compel the nation's Internet providers to identify subscribers accused of illegally distributing music online.In a substantial setback for the industry's controversial anti-piracy campaign, the three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned a ruling by the trial judge to enforce a copyright subpoena.
U.S. District Judge John D. Bates had approved use of the subpoenas, forcing Verizon Communications Inc. to turn over names and addresses for at least four Internet subscribers. Since then, Verizon has identified dozens of its other subscribers to music industry lawyers. The appeals court said one of the arguments by the Recording Industry Association of America "borders upon the silly," rejecting the trade group's claims that Verizon was responsible for downloaded music because such data files traverse its network.
Verizon had challenged the constitutionality of the subpoenas under the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The law, passed years before downloading music over peer-to-peer Internet services became popular, compels Internet providers to turn over the names of suspected pirates upon subpoena from any U.S. District Court clerk's office. A judge's signature is not required. Critics contend judges ought to be more directly involved.
Verizon had argued at its trial that Internet providers should only be compelled to respond to such subpoenas when pirated music is stored on computers that providers directly control, such as a Web site, rather than on a subscriber's personal computer.In his ruling, the trial judge wrote that Verizon's interpretation "makes little sense from a policy standpoint," and warned that it "would create a huge loophole in Congress' effort to prevent copyright infringement on the Internet."
December 19th, 2003, 16:09 PM
December 21st, 2003, 01:17 AM
Good news indeed!