Judge Denny Chin of Manhattan has ruled that Cablevision and other ISPs must hand over details of file swappers to the RIAA to assist in their pursuit through the courts.
This contradicts a previous decision by the Washington DC appeals court, and only applies in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Specifically, it states that Cablevision has to provide personal details of a subscriber even before the RIAA has decided to sue him or her. The decision has surprised many in the industry.
It was the previous Washington decision that forced RIAA to prosecute downloaders as John Does, with decidedly mixed results – the RIAA only found out targets’ identities when it got to court.
It is staggering that a commercial body now has the power to extract personal information about members of the public from another company. Although the recent ruling does contain a provision that the RIAA must have a firm case against a user before demanding personal information – though of course, “a firm case” is always open to interpretation.