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Federal Court Rules Against RIAA's Subpoenas to Force ISPs to Identify File Traders

19 Dec, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

A federal appellate court has ruled that the recording industry's subpoenas to force Internet service providers (ISPs) to turn over the identities of suspected file traders aren't legal.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) had sought to force Verizon Internet Services and other ISPs to turn over the names of suspected file traders using their networks, using subpoenas sought under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

Although a lower court sided with the RIAA, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia found in Verizon's favor and ordered the lower court to vacate subpoenas it had allowed against Verizon.

“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. “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.”

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