April 25, 2014

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Court Orders Verizon to Reveal Customer’s Identity

U.S. District Court Judge John D. Bates has ordered Verizon to turn over to the RIAA the identity of a Verizon customer who allegedly used Verizon’s ISP service to infringe copyrights on recorded music. Verizon had argued that they should not be compelled to reveal this information.

More to come, once I have had a chance to read the opinion.

UPDATE (3:16 PM): The Court’s ruling depended on a detailed question about how to construe certain language in the DMCA. The DMCA created a special protocol whereby copyright owners could compel ISPs, via special subpoenas, to reveal the identity of ISP customers. The question was whether that special protocol applied to the facts of this case; the parties agreed that if it did apply then Verizon had to turn over the customer’s identity.

The Court ruled that the DMCA language did apply to these facts, so Verizon had to comply with the RIAA’s subpoena. The Court noted that Verizon had not raised any Constitutional issues, so the only issue before the Court was how to interpret the DMCA. The Court did say in passing, quoting the Supreme Court’s Eldred opinion, that it would be skeptical of any Constitutional challenges to the special subpoena protocol.