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RIAA Defiant After Subpoena Defeat

by Glen Shapiro,, New York

23 December 2003

Ruling on Friday, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned an earlier ruling obliging internet service provider (ISP) Verizon to furnish the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) with details of subscribers alleged to have used copyright-infringing peer-to-peer networks, such as Kazaa, to swap music files.

Delivering its verdict, the three-judge panel explained that:

"We conclude that a subpoena may only be issued to an ISP engaged in storing on its servers material that is infringing or is the subject of an infringing activity," adding that ISPs which act as a "mere conduit for the transmission of information" should not be subject to subpoenas under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

Verizon's vice president and associate general counsel, Sarah Deutsch welcomed the ruling, observing that:

"This decision removes the threat of a radical new subpoena process that empowers copyright holders or anyone merely claiming to be a copyright holder to obtain personal information about internet users by simply filing a one-page form with a court clerk."

She continued:

"Copyright holders seeking personal information about internet subscribers will now have to file a traditional lawsuit. These results will undergo scrutiny by a judge, thus preserving the privacy, safety and legal rights of every internet subscriber."

The RIAA has vowed to continue its drive to sue individual file sharers under the DMCA, and condemned Friday's ruling as "inconsistent with both the views of Congress and the findings of the district court".

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