Here’s the best overview on the legal situation, from the always interesting GMSV:
“Silly.” That’s how a U.S. appeals court described the Recording Industry Association of America’s efforts to use the subpoena provisions of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act to compel Verizon Internet Services to identify subscribers accused of illegally distributing music over its network. In a blistering ruling a three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturned a prior ruling forcing Verizon to hand over the personal information of at least four its customers and flat out rejected the RIAA’s claim that Verizon was responsible for the illegally downloaded music files that traverse its network.
“We are not unsympathetic either to the RIAA’s concern regarding the widespread infringement of its members’ copyrights, or to the need for legal tools to protect those rights,” the court wrote in its opinion. “It is not the province of the courts, however, to rewrite the DMCA in order to make it fit a new and unforeseen Internet architecture, no matter how damaging that development has been to the music industry or threatens being to the motion picture and software industries. The plight of copyrightholders must be addressed in the first instance by the Congress; only the Congress has the constitutional authority and the institutional ability to accommodate fully the varied permutations of competing interests that are inevitably implicated by such new technology.” The ruling is a huge setback for the RIAA, whose campaign against file-sharing earlier this year morphed into an orgy of lawsuits (see “Music industry to recoup alleged file-sharing losses one 12-year-old at a time”).
Source: Appeals panel to RIAA: “Ha, ha, ha, ha … but seriously, no”
Good Morning Silicon Valley, By John Paczkowski, Dec. 19, 2003
Recording Industry Is Dealt a Blow By Court’s Take on Copyright Law
By JOSEPH SCHUMAN
WSJ, December 19, 2003 12:37 p.m. EST
RIAA legal tactic unconstitutional, appeals court says
By Brooks Boliek
Hollywood Reporter. Dec. 20, 2003
Court Says Net Music Subpoenas Not Allowed
By Andy Sullivan
Reuters Fri 19 December, 2003 17:44
Record Industry May Not Subpoena Providers