WASHINGTON - In July, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued a subpoena requesting that Verizon Online name a customer whom the RIAA alleged was infringing on the copyrights of recording artists. The subpoena was not issued according to the requirements of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, under which the alleged infringing material must actually reside on Verizon's system or network for the subpoena to be valid. Because the alleged material would only be found on the user's hard drive, Verizon refused to comply with this invalid subpoena. The RIAA then sued Verizon to enforce the subpoena. In a decision issued today in Washington, U.S. District Court Judge John Bates ruled in favor of the RIAA. The following response should be attributed to Sarah B. Deutsch, vice president and associate general counsel for Verizon.
"The court's decision has troubling ramifications for consumers, service providers and the growth of the Internet. It opens the door for anyone who makes a mere allegation of copyright infringement to gain complete access to private subscriber information without the due process protections afforded by the courts. This case will have a chilling effect on private communications, such as e-mail, surfing the Internet or the sending of files between private parties.
"Verizon is not attempting to shield customers who break copyright laws. We are, however, seeking to protect the fundamental privacy and due process rights that should be afforded to our customers and all Internet users. We will appeal the decision."