Suing Filesharers Loses it's Appeal
December 19, 2003 8:53 AM   Subscribe

The DC Appeals court has overturned the previous decision that allowed the RIAA to subpoena user's names from internet providers. Could this mark the end of the recording industry's lawsuit assault?
posted by BigPicnic (18 comments total)
Here's the more informative NY TImes article, but I went with the non-registration one above.
posted by BigPicnic at 8:55 AM on December 19, 2003

copyfight offers up the whole ruling (via PACER, but no id or payment required)

wish they had gotten to the constitutional issues, though.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:56 AM on December 19, 2003

This is important:
The issue is whether § 512(h) applies to an ISP acting only as a conduit for data transferred between two internet users, such as persons sending and receiving e-mail or, as in this case, sharing P2P files. Verizon contends § 512(h) does not authorize the issuance of a subpoena to an ISP that transmits infringing material but does not store any such material on its servers. The RIAA argues § 512(h) on its face authorizes the issuance of a subpoena to an ‘‘[internet] service provider’’ without regard to whether the ISP is acting as a conduit for user-directed communications. We conclude from both the terms of § 512(h) and the overall structure of § 512 that, as Verizon contends, a subpoena may be issued only to an ISP engaged in storing on its servers material that is infringing or the subject of infringing activity.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:08 AM on December 19, 2003

This just means the RIAA has to buy a bigger law.
posted by sudama at 9:09 AM on December 19, 2003

This is good news. The law as it was being interpreted previously, opened up everyone to frivolous or even malicious invasions of privacy.
My only question is, can this ruling be overturned, or is this how things are gonna be, until the RIAA buys new laws are created?
posted by Blue Stone at 9:15 AM on December 19, 2003

I liked this quote:

The court ... said that the RIAA's claim that Verizon was partly responsible for lost profits due to file trading "borders upon the silly."

Oh yeah. In related news, the Dutch rule that P2P software is entirely legal.
posted by Blue Stone at 9:23 AM on December 19, 2003

blue stone--

it could go higher, but it's unlikely it will. however, the DC Circuit doesn't control the rest of the circuits.

most likely scenario is a push to expand DCMA.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:26 AM on December 19, 2003

Nice one, sudama. Heh.
posted by Hankins at 9:29 AM on December 19, 2003

Blue Stone, the Omaha story pretty much mangles the "silly" quote. It had nothing at all to do with profits. Here's the quote in context:
Finally, the RIAA argues the definition of ‘‘[internet] service provider’’ in § 512(k)(1)(B) makes § 512(h) applicable to an ISP regardless what function it performs with respect to infringing material – transmitting it per § 512(a), caching it per § 512(b), hosting it per § 512(c), or locating it per § 512(d).

This argument borders upon the silly. The details of this argument need not burden the Federal Reporter, for the specific provisions of § 512(h), which we have just rehearsed, make clear that however broadly ‘‘[internet] service provider’’ is defined in § 512(k)(1)(B), a subpoena may issue to an ISP only under the prescribed conditions regarding notification.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 9:33 AM on December 19, 2003

(nitpick: That wasn't a NYT article, it was an AP story on the NYT's site. Please folks, it's not hard.)
posted by CunningLinguist at 9:48 AM on December 19, 2003

(Hopefully the AP wil forgive me. Also: In my title I meant its not it's.)
posted by BigPicnic at 10:07 AM on December 19, 2003

It is doubtful that either the full DC Circuit would grant rehearing en banc, or that the Supreme Court would take cert (if RIAA seeks it out at all). More likely, they will push for a different result in other courts (there are several pending) and try to force a circuit split. So the short answer is for now, RIAA's solution is legislation.

(Mini brag: As one of the lawyers who actually represented Verizon on this, yay, us!)
posted by IPLawyer at 11:04 AM on December 19, 2003

IPLawyer: Well done you!

But what would be the impact of "a circuit split" (which I'm guessing means the RIAA gets rulings more favorable to its argument from one or more other Federal Circuit Courts?) assuming the DCMA remains unchanged?
posted by mojohand at 11:32 AM on December 19, 2003

If a different circuit says its OK, they could try to continue to issue subpoenas only in those areas of the country. Technically, a DC Circuit opinion is only binding in DC (although it would be found to be majorly persuasive to other courts....).
posted by IPLawyer at 11:50 AM on December 19, 2003

Nope, not the end, just the beginning of a whole new round of lawsuits and rulings and other high falooting legal monkeyworks.

I hope the RIAA bankrupts themselves because of this stupidity they continue to pursue.

Has anyone done a study on the effect of the RIAA suing people on music purchases or on downloads?
posted by fenriq at 12:35 PM on December 19, 2003

Of course not, fenriq. That would detract from the RIAA's insistence that piracy, and solely piracy, is the prime cause of the RIAA's loss of revenue.
posted by FormlessOne at 12:45 PM on December 19, 2003

Thanks to crush-onastick, and monju_bosatsu, for clarifications.
posted by Blue Stone at 2:55 PM on December 19, 2003

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