Told Ya!
January 21, 2003 5:18 PM   Subscribe

Verizon Must Reveal Internet Song Swapper In a recent discussion of the Supreme Court's decision to protect the rights of the individual from the greed and sloth of the many I warned that the RIAA and MPAA, comically inept though the media paints them, would soon have things their way. This link is to a news report about an important step in their fight for individual rights.
posted by BGM (23 comments total)
oops, via Drudge.
posted by BGM at 5:21 PM on January 21, 2003

Verizon is appealing it although they are deliberately not addressing the real problem - that the DMCA is bad law and in this case violates the first amendment.
"Verizon didn't bring an explicit challenge to the DMCA because we were one of the parties that negotiated it," Verizon's Deutsch said. "What we did tell the judge was that there were constitutional issues that required the court to construe the law narrowly." cite
posted by willnot at 5:24 PM on January 21, 2003

Very, very troubling. Whether or not you're in favor of P2P file sharing, a private company forcing your ISP to reveal your online behavior is a terrifying precedent. Before you jump on me, I realize that such a thing may have been done in the past to catch malicious hackers or sexual predators. But we're talking about a "crime" of limited potential victimization. Such depressing news.
posted by jonson at 5:27 PM on January 21, 2003

Is someone who merely downloads a song a "swapper"?
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:39 PM on January 21, 2003

Actually, sounds like Verizon's trying to use a common carrier defense and if they lose on that basis, I'd suggest the immediate cessation of usage of any telecommunications device, alarmist as that may sound:

Investigators asked Verizon last summer for the name of one customer believed to have downloaded more than 600 songs in one day, but Verizon said they would have to jump through a few more legal hoops because the alleged infringer did not store the songs on Verizon servers but only used its wires to transfer the material.

Bates rejected Verizon's argument, saying that "Verizon has provided no sound reason why Congress would enable a copyright owner to obtain identifying information from a service provider storing the infringing material on its system, but would not enable a copyright owner to obtain identifying information from a service provider transmitting the material over its system."

Verizon better win this one on appeal, otherwise it's time to start worrying. Making regulated utilities play at being law enforcement agencies is a dangerous precedent to set.
posted by WolfDaddy at 5:46 PM on January 21, 2003

Remember all those data havens and anonymizers that went out of business a few years ago? May just be time to start them up again. While I oppose the content cartels for philosophical reasons, I actually don't really give a crap about people trading songs. WoldDaddy is correct though. The would set a horrible president that would be a major blow to freedom as we've come to understand it.
posted by willnot at 5:54 PM on January 21, 2003

Pete Townshend never thought 3 year old logs would come back to haunt him, either. The internet is not the Wild West, it's a photographic speed trap waiting for the ticket in the mail.
posted by stbalbach at 5:57 PM on January 21, 2003

Verizon has truly impressed me through this debacle.
posted by machaus at 6:02 PM on January 21, 2003

I think the thing that pisses me off the most about this is that the ability to trade files freely will diminish or completely vanish, or will bite you in the ass 10 years down the road, while spam now comprises 40% of the e-mail that gets processed every day and continues to increase.

When the arteries get clogged, folks, the body dies. When whatsername at the RIAA can't get legit e-mails because of all the donkeysex spams she's getting, I'm assuming we'll see some action.


Verizon has truly impressed me through this debacle.

Me too. But I hate them so I didn't say that.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:08 PM on January 21, 2003

RIAA CEO Hilary Rosen suggested that Internet providers should pay a fee to offset losses from file trading.
bitch got big brass balls!
posted by quonsar at 6:10 PM on January 21, 2003

When whatsername at the RIAA can't get legit e-mails because of all the donkeysex spams she's getting, I'm assuming we'll see some action.
nah. she loves donkeysex.
posted by quonsar at 6:11 PM on January 21, 2003

There is, of course, the option of downloading an uncopyrighted song by a MeFi user all about Scotch Tape and the man who uses it to tape people's mouth's shut (a metaphor perhaps): Ladies and Gentlemen, The Taper!!! (By yours truly).
posted by adrober at 6:30 PM on January 21, 2003

interesting that 600 is the threshold, now that that I think of it, most I can remember is 20 at best. Well, I bet I can beat that, I bid 650, can anyone top that?
posted by CrazyJub at 7:04 PM on January 21, 2003

Don't be so quick to pat Verizon on the back. Their sole interest in defending the identity of the "thief" is that they are certain to be flooded with similar such discovery requests, and they have no desire to create a new department of their company whose sole purpose is identifying music downloaders, or to scare off existing and potential customers whose sole reason for buying broadband is downloading music. They're hardly civil rights advocates.

What's going to really interesting is when Warner Music comes up against Time Warner' Road Runner service in this debacle. Which one will the powers that be favor when their interests finally conflict. Since the biggest stated reason to purchase broadband (which is what Roadrunner provides) has historically been to share media files, for a while AOL/TW has been having their cake and eating it, too. But I don't see this working for too much longer.
posted by vraxoin at 7:41 PM on January 21, 2003

it sucks because digital is the way to deliver and listen to music NO QUESTION. they can sue who they want. no one wants to pay 17 dollars for a quick listen to 'hard luck woman' or 'when you're hot you're hot' by jerry reed. dem biatches gotta get dey mind outta da commoddiddy mode and into some subscriptzion shit. they're just prooloonging the inev. gawd.
posted by alfredogarcia at 8:44 PM on January 21, 2003

vraxoin, I'll continue to pat Verizon on the back as long as they resist creating that new little department. I can't help it, no matter the motivations, they should resist it.

Sooner or later, though, some entity is not going to resist. Some entity bigger than your local Ma and Pa ISP. And when that happens, we should all get very, very worried. Again, forcing regulated utilities, or even corporations, to act in the stead of law enforcement agencies is Not A Good Thing (tm).
posted by WolfDaddy at 8:46 PM on January 21, 2003

*sigh* Where to begin.....

Verizon is not using a common carrier defense. ISP's are not common carriers. Verizon the phone company is a common carrier, but this is the ISP service(a separate division, under different regulations).

Verizon's defense is based on the aspects of the Communication Decency Act that were not ruled unconstitutional, which is basically only the parts that were negotiated that allow ISP's to not be held liable for their customers actions while connected to said ISP in exchange for becoming the legal defender of said customer's legal privacy rights.

Here's the way it works. Someone wants information about a user of an ISP, for some legal reason. The ISP is required to notify the user, so the user can then defend themselves without having their identity revealed(John Doe's lawyer shows up to defend John Doe from the legal action, usually arguing that the case does not have merit to allow the shield of anonymity removed). If the ISP hands over the info about the user without notifying the user, then the ISP is liable to the user for violating the laws that protect the user from having the ISP hand his information out o anyone that asks.

Verizon is pinned between two legal liabilities, and seeking to avoid a third. Undoubtedly, their own interests are being served by fighting this case because they seek to avoid having an additional legal liability, and the attendant costs thrust upon them.

And how do I know all this crap? Well, go here, scroll down to "People of the State of Illinois v. Schrock", and read the pdf's of our legal arguments that pitted the rights of privacy a group of anonymous posters to a message board against the rights of someone accused of criminal activity by the state to access information they believe necessary to mount a legal defense. 1st vs. 6th amendments. Snarky gossiping message board posters won.

BTW, as far as privacy on the internet, there has only been 5 actual court rulings defining the scope of internet privacy. Most cases dragged to court are dropped if opposed, or settled when the accused doesn't want to go to court. So whatever rights you think you might have, just remember that 20% of the actual case law on the subject was the result of a case of bull-headedness and financial insanity by one of the losers on MeFi, in a Circuit Court in Illinois corn country, ergo, you don't have shit for legally defined rights of privacy on the internet.

Good luck. ;)

P.S. Verizon is a pustule, restraining entrepreneurs from building a new telecommunications industry in this country. They are a plague upon businesses and individuals, and it would be impossible to measure the financial damage they cause just by their continued existence.

P.P.S. WolfDaddy, we're not a Mom and Pop ISP, we're a brother and sister ISP. ;)
posted by dglynn at 11:09 PM on January 21, 2003

"Tell us a story about the Old Internet, Grandpa. Was it really as wild as they say it was?"

"Set on my stainless steel knee, Billy, and Eustace, you set on the brass one, and let me tell you what my friends and I used to do, back when the wires hummed with secrets..."
posted by Opus Dark at 12:28 AM on January 22, 2003

Well, thanks for the info dglynn, I guess Mom'n'Pop's got some 'splainin to do to me. ;-)
posted by WolfDaddy at 12:34 AM on January 22, 2003

Opus Dark - how do you know my grandpa?

Why this kind of story is still shocking and surprising I cannot understand. Everybody should know by now that our government is about as interested in representing our rights as Jefferson Davis was in the rights of Harriet Tubman. Our government behaves, and has been behaving like an attorney for corporations for longer than I've been alive.
posted by eustacescrubb at 5:38 AM on January 22, 2003

I wish the RIAA would invest less time, money and energy in harassing Verizon and more on the idea of establishing their own paid music download network. I don't expect artists to create for free, but I don't care to keep lining the wallets of fatcat distribution-channel fossils.

I'd gladly pay for the convenience of legally downloading individual songs, correctly leveled and balanced at high quality. What would it take to encourage massive, widespread, high-volume legal use -- 20, 30 cents a song?
posted by Tubes at 9:22 AM on January 22, 2003

Is it just me, or can you all smell the Bush Administration's toast really starting to burn?

(out the door in two thousand-four)
posted by BentPenguin at 9:24 AM on January 22, 2003

Ah, dglynn, Mom'n'Pop came through for me:

Verizon Online (VOL) might be trying to slip in common carrier tactics because there are indications that state regulatory commissions seem to be beginning to desire to regulate broadband technologies as other utilities are regulated. (relevant MeFi thread, which we should both remember because I posted it and you commented there).

It's Mom'n'Pop's belief that if the State wishes to regulate an emergent technology as they do established telecomnunications utilities, then said emergent technology should be afforded the same common carrier status ... ie, they can't be held responsible for injury or damage due to the data transported over their wires, unless such injury or damage was caused willfully by the utility in question. It's Mom'n'Pop's belief that Verizon may see the California Public Utilties Commission's desire to regulate DSL providers as a way to run VOL the same way as Verizon the phone company and are using this case to try and get some kind of (inadvertent or no) concession to VOL's status as a common carrier. It seems, though, that in this case, the judge at the very least suspects this tactic might be taking place, and ain't havin' any of it. It will be interesting to see what happens on appeal.

That's what Mom'n'Pop say, whether or not their interpretation and hunches about what VOL is doing remains to be seen. Interesting stuff, though.
posted by WolfDaddy at 1:07 PM on January 22, 2003

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