Newsflash! Federal Court to RIAA: No, You CAN’T Have that Peer-to-Peer User’s Information!

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The United States Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit, dealt the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) a blow today when it reversed a lower court ruling which ordered internet service provider Charter to comply with an RIAA demand that Charter turn over the information of Charter customers who were using peer-to-peer networks to download music files which alledgedly infringed on the RIAA or their members’ copyrights.

The Court held that the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) under which the RIAA had demanded the information from Charter was not applicable in this situation because the DMCA allows a copyright holder to subpoena such information only in conjunction with a demand that the ISP remove the infringing material, in this case the infringing MP3 files.


Only one problem with that: Charter had nothing to do with those MP3 files. They didn’t host them, they didn’t store them, they didn’t touch them at all, other than in the most fleeting of senses when their system acted as a conduit for their user who had connected to an external peer-to-peer network.

There is no sane argument which can be made which would hold an ISP such as Charter accountable for the actions which their users take on some other system. That would be like holding the telephone company responsible for someone placing an order by telephone using a stolen credit card.

Fortunately, the Eighth Circuit is sane, and reversed the somewhat less sane lower court decision, in keeping with a previous decision regarding a very similar demand by the RIAA to ISP Verizon.net. The majority for the Eighth Circuit ruling explained that the DMCA “only permits a copyright owner to obtain and serve a subpoena on an ISP for identifying information about an alleged infringer if the ISP is provided statutory notification which…requires the ISP to be able to both locate and remove the allegedly infringing material”.

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Oh dear, RIAA, guess it’s back to the drawing board.

No Paywall Here!
The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
Click for amount options
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What info did you find here today?:

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