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<nettime> Verizon Turns Over Names in Piracy Case [fwd]
J-D marston on Thu, 12 Jun 2003 11:36:58 +0200 (CEST)


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<nettime> Verizon Turns Over Names in Piracy Case [fwd]


Verizon Turns Over Names in Piracy Case 
By BRIAN BERGSTEIN
The Associated Press
Friday, June 6, 2003; 2:44 PM 

NEW YORK - Verizon Communications Inc. reluctantly surrendered to the music
industry on Thursday the names of four Internet subscribers suspected of
illegally offering free song downloads, but vowed to keep fighting the law
that forced its hand.

Verizon was compelled to give up the names Wednesday by the U.S. Court of
Appeals for Washington, D.C., which rejected the telecom giant's request
for a stay while it appeals a lower court decision won by the Recording
Industry Association of America.

The RIAA has not decided what action to take against the four Verizon
customers, said Matt Oppenheim, the group's senior vice president for
business and legal affairs.

Though it released the names, New York-based Verizon, the nation's biggest
phone company, plans to continue the appeal.

The provision in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act that the
recording industry invoked in seeking the names is unconstitutional and
greatly exceeds traditional copyright and privacy laws, said Sarah Deutsch,
Verizon's associate general counsel.

"We are committing to pursuing the case if necessary to the Supreme Court,"
she said Thursday. "The real harm here is to the consumer."

The recording industry has been unrelenting in fighting people and services
who facilitate online song-sharing, calling the practice larceny.

In the Verizon case, the recording association relied on the DMCA law,
which permits copyright holders to compel Internet providers to hand over
the names of suspected pirates. All they need is a subpoena from a federal
court clerk's office. A judge's signature is not even required.

Internet privacy and civil liberties advocates say that system is open to
abuse.

"The RIAA's position would make it trivially easy to learn the name,
address, and phone number of anyone who sends e-mail or visits a Web site,"
said Peter Swire, chief privacy counsel in the Clinton White House and now
an Ohio State law professor.

Swire, who filed briefs supporting Verizon with the Washington court,
believes copyright holders should be forced to rely on "John Doe" lawsuits
in which a copyright holder has to persuade a judge that an Internet user's
identity ought to be revealed.

The federal district court judge who originally heard the case, John D.
Bates, wrote that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has adequate
safeguards that in some ways are more protective of Internet users' rights
than "John Doe" cases.

Verizon's Deutsch said the recording industry seems to be using the case
"to teach Verizon and all the service providers in the future that we
shouldn't dare challenge one of these subpoenas."

As evidence, she pointed to the recording industry's demand for $350,000 in
legal fees.

Oppenheim, the music industry representative, called such demands standard.

"Verizon decided to litigate this as though this were a case involving
capital punishment going to the U.S. Supreme Court," he said. "They decided
to put the full weight of a $40 billion company behind protecting pirates,
and somebody has to pay for that."


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