July 2003

Record Labels, Music Publishers, Internet

Having failed to persuade the appeals court of its case, US ISP Verizon has handed over the names of four of its customers to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) – marking a significant victory for the RIAA and a shift in the way that the US courts deal with the conflict between copyright infringements on the internet and customer privacy on the internet. The decision will undoubtedly have an impact on net users around the world. The RIAA first contacted Verizon last year after finding files being shared through the Kazaa peer-to-peer network from computers with IP addresses on Verizon’s network.
The RIAA had no way to find who the users behind those computers were, so used a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to issue a court-authorised subpoena to the ISP, asking for the subscriber names.
Verizon refused, arguing that they were just a communications channel and had nothing to do with the potentially copyright-infringing behaviour of their customers.

For comment in this area see: ‘Copyright holders like record labels have too much power over what people do with songs’ argues technology analyst Bill Thompson.

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