RIAA Suffers Setback

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.



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Fraser Lovatt

Fraser Lovatt has spent the last fifteen years working in publishing, TV and the Internet in various capacities, and believes that they will be seperate platforms for at least a while yet. His main interests at the moment are exploring where Linux is taking home entertainment and how technology is conferring technical skills on more and more people. Fraser Lovatt was born in the same year that 2001: A Space Odyssey was delighting and confusing people in the cinemas, and developed a lifelong love of technology as soon as he realised that things could be taken apart, sometimes put back together again, but mostly left in bits or made into something the original designer hadn't quite planned upon. At school he was definitely in the ZX Spectrum/Magpie/BMX camp, rather than the BBC Micro/Blue Peter/well-behaved group. This is all deeply ironic as he later went on to spend nine years working at the BBC. After a few years of working as a bookseller in Scotland, ("Back when it was actually a skilled profession" he'll tell anyone still listening), he moved to England for reasons he can't quite explain adequately to himself. After a couple of publishing jobs punctuated by sporadic bursts of travelling and photography came the aforementioned nine years at the BBC where he specialised in internet technologies and video. These days his primary interests are Java, Linux, videogames and pies - and if they're not candidates for convergence, then what is?