The Recording Industry Association of America has suffered a setback in its John Doe pursuit of illegal file sharers, as the Supreme Court has now denied their demand that Verizon and other ISPs identify customers whom the RIAA believe are sharing infringing music.
Previously, the RIAA had been pursuing ISP Verizon with subpoenas demanding subscriber details without actually knowing who their targets where. Anonymous individuals were picked out by investigating traffic and file sharing on peer to peer networks, though identities are often hidden through aliases. Let’s face it, someone sharing files illegally would have to be pretty daft to give their real details as a user name and profile.
Verizon refused the demands from the RIAA on the grounds that, due to P2P networks’ very nature, they themselves did not store infringing material – it’s all stored on individuals’ own PCs. They argue that they cannot remove files or police their customers for every single infringing action.
The Supreme Court agrees with them, and the RIAA will now have to try a different strategy, instead of using the DMCA as a means to issue subpoenas to ISPs. “The Supreme Court’s refusal to take the case leaves the DC Circuit’s well-reasoned opinion as law: The DMCA doesn’t give the RIAA a blank fishing license to issue subpoenas and invade Internet users’ privacy,” said EFF Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer.
In recent weeks the RIAA has stepped up its activity against illegal file sharers by launching a further 762 cases, including suing individuals at 26 different schools. In the past, each case has netted an average of US$3000 (€2,473), none of which goes to the artists who are losing money.