RIAA Subpoenas can be Ignored

A Massachusetts district court dealt the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a serious setback by rejecting its Washington, D.C., subpoenas for the identities of Massachusetts students. For the moment, MIT and Boston College need not respond to the RIAA demands.

Today's ruling requires the recording industry to file subpoenas where it alleges that copyright infringement occurs, rather than blanketing the country from one court in D.C., said Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) Staff Attorney Wendy Seltzer. The court ruling confirms that due process applies to Internet user privacy nationwide.

Massachusetts District Judge Joseph Tauro granted requests from MIT and Boston College to reject RIAA subpoenas demanding identities of students the RIAA claims are violating copyright. The subpoenas are part of a nationwide effort by the RIAA to identify and crack down on alleged copyright violators using peer-to-peer (P2P) software to share music on the Internet.

We urge other colleges and Internet service providers to take similar steps to protect their users' privacy, said EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. ISPs should notify users whose information is sought, and fight against improper subpoenas.

Pacific Bell Internet Services has filed suit in California complaining of the threat to subscribers' privacy and the burden on Internet service providers. The RIAA has reportedly filed more than 2,000 subpoenas through the D.C. court and has announced plans to sue file-sharers later this month.

EFF offers an online database users can check to see whether their identities have been subpoenaed by the RIAA. EFF urges concerned citizens to learn more about ways to make filesharing legal while getting artists paid as part of the Let the Music Play Campaign.

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