Extending Verizon to RIAA v. Charter Communications

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and 21 other consumer and privacy groups today sided with Charter Communications, Inc., in its struggle to protect customer privacy. The groups urged a federal court in St. Louis, Missouri, to prevent the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) from forcing Internet Service Provider Charter Communications to identify customers the RIAA has accused of offering infringing music o­n a peer-to-peer system. In December 2003, a federal appeals court in Washington, DC, ruled that the RIAA could not use special, non-judicial subpoenas under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), 17 U.S.C. 512 et seq., demanding that Verizon identify unnamed alleged filesharers.

I don’t contend that we should support the right of “speakers to make other speakers’ speeches,” just that 17 U.S.C. 512 doesn’t authorize the subpoenas, which are not subject to judicial review prior to issuance, unless the infringing files and links are located o­n the providers’ system.Note, the effect of a win would probably be that the RIAA would have to file suit against “John Does” and use the regular discovery provisions under the F.R.C.P.