Verizon Divulges Customer Names
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Verizon Internet Services has released the names of four alleged music downloaders to the Recording Industry Association of America, but the music label group--which sued to get the names--isn't sure what it will do with them.
Verizon turned over the names after an appeals court denied the company's request for a stay to challenge a law that allows the music industry to subpoena such information.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled on Wednesday. Verizon filed the appeal after a U.S. district
An RIAA spokesperson says the industry group is weighing its options on what do with the names of the alleged downloaders. "In the next several days, we will evaluate how this ruling can best be incorporated into our overall enforcement program," the representative says.
Verizon "has not shown so great a likelihood of success on the merits as to outweigh the clearly greater harm that would accrue to the [RIAA] if the stay were granted," three appeals court judges wrote in the one-page decision.
The RIAA has sought from Verizon the names of two other alleged downloaders, but those two haven't been part of the previous court rulings.
The appeals court decision confirms the RIAA's position that "music pirates must be held accountable for their actions, and not be allowed to hide behind the company that provides their Internet service," says Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, in a statement.
"Given that an epidemic of illegal downloading is threatening the livelihoods of artists, songwriters, and tens of thousands of other recording industry workers who bring music to the public, we look forward to Verizon's speedy compliance with this ruling," Sherman says in the statement.
Although the four alleged downloaders could face legal action from the RIAA, Verizon will continue to fight other charges under the
"Verizon will continue arguing the merits of this case and taking the appeals process as far as it will go," Deutsch says. A hearing is scheduled for September.
Verizon is joined by more than 40 consumer groups, privacy groups, and ISPs in arguing against the clerk-issued subpoenas. The opponents contend the practice violates the U.S. Constitution's prohibition on using court powers without a pending case or controversy. Verizon also argues that the clerk-issued subpoenas open up a potential for abuse, with anyone--including pedophiles and stalkers--wanting to know the name of an anonymous Internet user having the ability to claim a copyright violation and get a subpoena.
Deutsch says the RIAA could have avoided this court battle by filing "John Doe" lawsuits against the anonymous downloaders and having a judge decide whether subpoenas are warranted.
"What we think the RIAA is trying to do is create a legal shortcut where they can amass hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of names," Deutsch says. She is calling on the U.S. Congress to change the subpoena section of the DMCA.
"When Congress enacted the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it deliberately balanced the interests of Internet service providers and copyright holders," the RIAA says in its statement. "ISPs were given immunity from liability for piracy on their networks, while copyright holders were given a quick and efficient mechanism to learn the identity of computer users who were stealing their works."