'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Friday, January 23, 2004

ISP's Not Playing Ball With The RIAA

(lifted whole cloth from this post on Ars Technica)
Since a U.S. Appeals Court ruled that the RIAA's subpoenas were illegal, ISPs have begun cutting off all cooperation. In lieu of issuing subpoenas requesting the ISPs divulge information about subscribers, the RIAA has been requesting that the ISPs send notices to their subscribers whom they suspect of illegal file sharing. Upon receiving an IP address from the RIAA, the ISPs would then pass on a "notice of infringement" to the user associated with that IP address, and the RIAA would not learn the identity of the user. So far, nobody wants to play ball with the RIAA.

According to industry officials, not one ISP has agreed to cooperate with the music industry, which was dealt a major legal setback on Dec. 19 when an appeals court ruled the RIAA could not force ISPs to turn over the identities of alleged music pirates. The RIAA claimed it had subpoena power under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).

The ISPs are under no legal obligation to comply with the request, a fact acknowledged by the RIAA. It seems the RIAA's legal battles with Verizon and other ISPs over DMCA subpoenas has earned them enmity of a group whose cooperation they would greatly like to have. While the Appeals Court decision affects Verizon subscribers (and those of other ISPs in that Circuit), the fight over the legality of the subpoenas is still going on in other jurisdictions. On top of that, the RIAA has yet to make a decision public about appealing the December setback to the U.S. Supreme Court. Will being stonewalled by ISPs cause the RIAA to rethink its current anti-file sharing strategy? If the DMCA subpoena case makes it to the Supreme Court and the RIAA loses there, they will have little choice.

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The above is a positive development for the forces of light in the MP3 Wars that suggests a possible avenue of action beyond working to extend the Appeals Court decision and hoping it isn't overturned: someone should organize a boycott of internet service providers that submit to the whims of the RIAA and organize support -- meaning getting customers to switch over to them where possible -- for those that do not. If the RIAA wants to attack its own customers that's its business... but not every ISP sees doing so as a sound business model.

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