Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Privacy Government The Courts United States Your Rights Online News

Charter Cable Sues To Quash RIAA Subpoenas 324

Posted by timothy
from the quashing-baby-quashing dept.
mattOzan writes "Charter Communications, the third largest cable provider in the United States, has filed a motion in St. Louis, Missouri, to block the RIAA's requests for the identities of about 150 Charter customers in the St. Louis area. In the over 1100 subpoenas that have been issued so far, Charter claims they are the only major ISP that has not provided the RIAA with 'a single datum of information.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Charter Cable Sues To Quash RIAA Subpoenas

Comments Filter:
  • Subpoenas? (Score:5, Troll)

    by jbardell (677791) <jbardell86.yahoo@com> on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:35PM (#7139543)
    Wait, what am I missing? I A Obviously N A L, but I didn't think a private company could issue a subpoena. Is there something that I'm missing? And hoorah to Charter Communications for fighting this rediculousness.
    • Re:Subpoenas? (Score:5, Informative)

      by geoffspear (692508) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:38PM (#7139568) Homepage
      Anyone can subpoena anyone else to get information to use in a lawsuit. The DMCA makes it easier to do so in the case of alleged copyright infringement, but the right to issue subpoenas is avaialble to any person or corporation.
    • Re:Subpoenas? (Score:5, Informative)

      by DeepRedux (601768) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:45PM (#7139627)
      The subpoenas are issued by a Federal district court at the request of the RIAA. The RIAA, just like any other copyright holder, can submit a sworn statement alleging a copyright violation to the court clerk and have a subpoena issued.

      The party being subpoenaed (here Charter Communications) has the right to challenge the subpoena in court.

      • Re:Subpoenas? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Alsee (515537) on Monday October 06, 2003 @09:44AM (#7143142) Homepage
        can submit a sworn statement alleging a copyright violation to the court clerk and have a subpoena issued

        I'd like to clarify a bit here, for other readers.

        They must submit a sworn statment that they have a copyright on something - anything (or that they represent a copyright holder). This sworn statement is pretty meaningless, I can file such a statement that I am the copyright holder of this post.

        Aside from that sworn statement, the paperwork must make a claim that the target of the subpeona commited infingement. Not only is this NOT a sworn statement, it can be an entirely baseless statement.

        This paperwork is then given to the court clerk, NOT a judge. The court clerk's only job is to make sure you didn't botch the paperwork. He is then required to give rubberstamp approval. The involvement of the court is pure formality, in effect the DMCA grants copyright holders the power to issue subeonas. The process lacks any actual judical review.

        The DMCA is an insanely lopsided peice of legislation, written by the copyright lobby for the copyright lobby. This "expedited subpeona process" granted to copyright holders is just one of many abuses written into the law. God forbid copyright holders should be forced to go through the NORMAL and LEGITIMATE subpeona process, just like EVERYONE ELSE.

        -
  • by turnstyle (588788) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:36PM (#7139554) Homepage
    Even if the RIAA looses the fast-track subpoena, they'll keep suing -- they'll just switch to John Doe lawsuits...
  • Go Charter (Score:4, Funny)

    by flyingember (555991) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:37PM (#7139561)
    their prices may suck, they may be needing network upgrades, but go Charter!
    • Charter forever. The RIAA never! Don't buy CDs. [dontbuycds.org]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:37PM (#7139563)
    Charter cable sues to block music inquiry

    10/03/2003

    Charter Communications Inc. filed a suit on Friday seeking to block the recording industry from obtaining the identities of Charter customers who allegedly shared copyrighted music over the Internet.

    Charter filed papers in U.S. District Court in St. Louis in a bid to quash subpoenas that the Recording Industry Association of America issued seeking the identities of about 150 Charter customers.

    "We are the only major cable company that has not as yet provided the RIAA a single datum of information," said Tom Hearity, vice president and associate general counsel for Charter, which is based in Town and Country.

    The recording association has subpoenaed information as part of its effort to crack down on illegal distribution of copyrighted music. So far, the group has filed suits against 261 people, none of them in the St. Louis area.

    Charter's move Friday suggested that Charter had undergone a change of heart on the issue. On Sept. 23, after the association issued its first subpoenas to Charter in St. Louis, a Charter spokesman said the company would "fully cooperate."

    However, Hearity said that statement meant only that the company would "cooperate in the sense that we're going to operate within the legal process."

    Representatives at the association's headquarters in Washington could not be reached.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:37PM (#7139565)
    1. Become ISP
    2. When asked by the RIAA to give out names, purposely give out names of people who do not use the internet much, and definetly don't use Kazza
    3. Sue RIAA, claiming damages.
    4. Profit!!!
    • by c_oflynn (649487) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:07PM (#7139768)
      Wow, and AC comment, about Profit, that is actually funny.

      Oh hold on a sec, the RIAA just called, something about stopping the lawsuits and pairing up with MS to support Linux.
    • If they just ask, and don't actually subpoena you, are you required to provide valid information?
  • The good fight. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Justen (517232) * on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:40PM (#7139588) Homepage Journal
    As Martha [marthastewart.com] would say, this is a damned Good Thing(C).

    It is interesting to note that Paul Allen [corporate-ir.net] is the chairman of Charter, and has been since he bought the company in 1998. Perhaps this will give fuel to the entertainment industry to say that technology, technology companies, and anybody tainted by either, are evil? (See here [macworld.com].)

    Nonetheless, it is important that formidable companies stand up to the entertainment industry and its henchmen. Charter and Verizon (see story [com.com]) are two folks who you'd want on your side.

    justen
    • I don't know. It's interesting to watch what has to be an internal struggle for many companies that are both technology and media companies, like AOL-Time-Warner or Sony. I don't think the RIAA would actually contend that technology companies are bad; they rely on those companies' cooperation to include stronger DRM in consumer electronics and computers, as well as often being technology companies themselves.

      In your referenced article, Disney accuses Mac of promoting piracy. Well, in some degree, they do.

      • Re:The good fight. (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Justen (517232) *
        The struggle within technology and entertainment conglomerates (the newly rechristened Time Warner, Sony, Viacom, even Apple) is an interesting one. I'd love to be a fly on the wall of those board rooms.

        But I'd like to disagree with part of and seek clarification on part of your second comment.

        How does Apple promote piracy on their Mac platform? Do they do so anymore than, as you mention, Dell, or other technology companies? And Michael Eisner did, actually, attack other companies, including hp, which
        • I didn't know he picked on Dell. That's just weird.

          But in terms of Apple promoting piracy, I don't think its so much deliberate as it is that Apple caters to a certain market. Dell caters to home PC users who don't know a whole lot; Apple caters to, if not more knowledgable users in general, at least more media-savvy. iMovie is a good example of this; at least part of Apple's marketshare are digital media pros; many of the others are hobbyists.

          Apple's customers often have iPods, DVD burners, broadband

  • Charter claims they are the only major ISP that has not provided the RIAA with 'a single datum of information.

    I could've sworn Soutwestern Bell hadn't furnished any of its customers' information at the RIAA's request either...

  • The fight continues. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by code_echelon (709189) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:50PM (#7139670)
    Its good to see another company steeping up and trying to protect people from the RIAA. The more companies that do this the better, this issue is getting a lot of attention and with more companies fighting back the attention will continue to grow. No matter what, when this is in the news the RIAA continues to look terrible and creates more and more enemies. Many of the people that they are suiing are parents of children who have done the downloading and this really upsets and hits home for many American households. When this started off it was just mainly people interested in legal matters and people that are interested in computers that were following the story. As it continues it has really started to affect the average person as the lawsuits are so prevelant and directed at anyone. There are also many political groups now who are trying to step in and fight the RIAA. In my opinion all the companies fighting the RIAA and all the negative press against them is another step forward. I think that the current buisness model that they are using is going to have to change or those that can change it will step up and do so. Many people around the world have been brought up in an era of downloading music and will never purchase there cds at there current prices again. What happens to the RIAA if they stop the downloaders(which they never will) and no one goes back to purchasing there cds.
    Making this many enemies is never a good thing for an association that relies on purchases from the people that they have upset.
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @06:51PM (#7139674)
    AOL is this huge turd of an ISP and they get only 2 subpoenas, when the other ISPs get 100s?

    Either all AOL users are very nice honest people (not bloody likely), or they are all (minus 2) so inane they only know the "you've got mail!" part of the internet, or somebody at the RIAA is on AOL's payroll ...
    • aol is mainly dialup users methinks
    • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:19PM (#7139834)
      I personally know several AOL users (really!!!) and not one of them would capable if installing, configuring and using a P2P application. So, if the balance if AOL users are equally challenged from a computer literacy perspective, it is entirely possible the AOL just doesn't have a large number of copyright infringers.

      Conversely, it could just be possible that the average AOL subscriber is so computer-savvy that he actually knows how to disable uploading in his P2P software, or at least knows to point his upload folder to an empty directory.

      Well ... maybe not.
      • I personally know several AOL users (really!!!) and not one of them would capable if installing, configuring and using a P2P application.

        They don't have to be. They just need to be able to use it and know someone who knows how to install and configure the thing.
    • And you're being very kind calling AOL an "Internet Service Provider." They are actually a PSP (Proprietary Service Provider) that has been known to offer a gateway to the Internet.
    • If they were smart enough to set up a P2P client, they'd be smart enough not to pay $25/month for a slow dial-up connection. When you're bandwidth limited, constantly being kicked off, and paying by the hour, it probably doesn't make much sense to run Kazaa, does it?
    • by Our Man In Redmond (63094) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:51PM (#7140014)
      Everything I've read so far leads me to believe that the RIAA is tracking people by IP address. This is more or less impossible if the person you're tracking is coming in from AOL, because everyone accesses the Internet proper through an AOL firewall/proxy, so the person you're tracking has the same IP address as all 3,743 other AOL users in Des Moines, Iowa.

      What I'm wondering is, how they managed to find two people to subpoena from AOL.
      • What I'm wondering is, how they managed to find two people to subpoena from AOL

        Maybe they sent subpoenas for the firewalls, those dastardly individuals downloading terabytes of music files!
      • This is more or less impossible if the person you're tracking is coming in from AOL, because everyone accesses the Internet proper through an AOL firewall/proxy, so the person you're tracking has the same IP address as all 3,743 other AOL users in Des Moines, Iowa.

        To the best of my knowledge, this is true only of outbound web traffic. AOL users do receive a dynamically assigned, "real" IP address when they connect, just like customers of other dialup ISPs. They can indeed participate directly (i.e. no firew

    • Maybe this is because AOL is part of Time Warner and thus does not want to lose customers to lawsuits?

    • Well, the AOL users tend to fall into 2 groups. 1) Proxied Dial-Up Users. Not worth the effort usually; too slow to do much harm. 2) "AOL For Broadband". Just lets you use their overbloated software on top of a real ISP. Kazaa/Bearshare/Whatever else uses the real connection; AOL is bypassed.
  • None of Netzero or MSN users have been sued by RIAA according to the link provided in the article. (1100 subpoenas) [berkeley.edu] I wonder why?
  • statistics of riaa (Score:5, Informative)

    by potpie (706881) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:01PM (#7139725) Journal
    the riaa claims to have lost millions of dollars. The yearend reports can be found here in pdf format:
    http://www.riaa.com/news/marketingdata/yearend.asp

    note that the sale of cd's has dropped less than 10%, and that the sale of DVD video and DVD audio has risen far more. The riaa doesn't seem to talk about that much, does it?
    • by MaxiCat_42 (711203) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @09:06PM (#7140360)
      >the sale of DVD video and DVD audio has risen far more

      Yep they ignore a few blinding facts. You get a lot more for your cash with a DVD and the prices match the age of the thing they are selling. Why can I buy a DVD of a 30-year old feature film like 'Bullet' (and enjoy it) for 5 GBP but I still have to pay around 20 GBP for a CD of 'Dark Side of the Moon'. I would like a CD copy of that album but not at that price!
    • of course not; that's a logical explanation, so no.

      Think of the situation as a fairy tale. Like a person who couldn't figure out what the cause of the problem is and just started to make assumptions and blames.

      I can understand why no one thinks that way though. I mean the ending would be too much like a typical horror book rather than a fairy tale:

      "Oh wait a minute, maybe it's simply because of the music we choose to represent and the popular culture is getting old......maybe if the music representatio
  • Props to charter (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Mr.Zong (704396) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:02PM (#7139730)
    All i can say is that while their tech support/service (general customer care) is more then lacking, the fact that they lifted the cap of all cable subscribers for a year and half (up here in MI, btw, were getting 2mbit dl's for basic price), and are now taking this stance against totalitarism , has made me a loyal customer for (hopefully) years to come. Keep it up guys!
    • I am totally with 100% of what you said. Their tech support sucks ( don't even bother telling then you run Linux ), but they're kindly giving away Premium bandwidth to Basic customers until March 04, apparently for downtime growing pains that I didn't notice. Now that they're falling on my side of the RIAA issue, they've definately earned my loyalty.
  • by Crashmarik (635988) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:03PM (#7139745)
    The RIAA suing parents and accounthoulders could kill isp business. Nobodys going to want always on broadband in their home if it makes them a target of financialy devastating lawsuit. So for Charter, Verizon, Etc, they can either fight now or watch the RIAA's scare campaign cause their customers to pull internet access.

    Imagine parents hear that one of their neighbors got sued by the RIAA because their kid was misusing the internet. They most likely have a vague idea of what the net really is and even less idea what their kid does with it. The likely response pull the plug. The net is just not that big a deal in their lives.
  • by leoaugust (665240) <leoaugust@g m a i l . com> on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:07PM (#7139770) Journal

    On Sept. 23, after the association issued its first subpoenas to Charter in St. Louis, a Charter spokesman said the company would "fully cooperate." However, Hearity said that statement meant only that the company would "cooperate in the sense that we're going to operate within the legal process."

    This is a very insightful comment because it reflects that Charter top-brass probably understands that the legal system is an essentially incomplete system.

    If they are smart enough, and can raise the higher-level-than-legal-level issue of social good using the statutes provided by the legal system, they might be able to create an assertion in the legal system that talks about its own unprovability in court, in which case the court might - not fully comprehending the incompleteness of formal systems - look for the validity of the assertion in the social system, wherein they will discover that it is ridiculous for the RIAA to claim no legitimate uses of the P2P.

    And Equally ridiculous for the RIAA to claim that by supressing all economic activity not under its control it has somehow raised the total level of economic activity. Reflecting upon how patently untrue the RIAA has been so far, may cause the courts to self-reflect upon their own behavior, in which case there may be a spark of intelligence ... upon which my sig will come alive. As my current sig is Die Die Metallica, Die Die RIAA, Die Die My Darling , its coming alive will cause the death of the RIAA, and Charter may never have to prove the assertions it made fully understanding the unprovability of its assertions ....

    Sorry, if have been caught up in some strange loops. I was just rereading Hofstadter's GEB and could not help but ...

  • by banks (205655) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:10PM (#7139783) Homepage
    Not only are they resisting the jackboots, they're also one of the few modern non-scientific entities I've heard using "datum." So many people today think that "data" is singular/plural. It's infuriating- one wonders if schools even teach grammar any more.
  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:10PM (#7139788) Homepage Journal
    Charter's move Friday suggested that Charter had undergone a change of heart on the issue. On Sept. 23, after the association issued its first subpoenas to Charter in St. Louis, a Charter spokesman said the company would "fully cooperate."

    just how much of this benevolent change in heart was motivated by the competing DSL providers standing up for their customers [slashdot.org]. They were busy licking RIAA's feet while the telcos were saying this [slashdot.org], this [slashdot.org] and this [slashdot.org].

  • Article says:
    Charter's move Friday suggested that Charter had undergone a change of heart on the issue. On
    Sept. 23, after the association issued its first subpoenas to Charter in St. Louis, a Charter
    spokesman said the company would "fully cooperate." However, Hearity said that
    statement meant only that the company would "cooperate in the sense that we're going to
    operate within the legal process."

    As opposed to not operating within the legal process? Of *course* they're going to operate wit
  • why the excitement? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mOoZik (698544) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:42PM (#7139963) Homepage
    As much as we may question the RIAA's motives, law is law, and if you deny the RIAA the information of those who violate THE LAW then you may as well deny other, more "legitimate" businesses and corporations rights to what they own. Again, I disagree with the RIAA and the motives they use, but this isn't a chance for vigilante ISP's to deny the RIAA what it is entitled to under law.
    • You've missed the point totally. The law is the law until it's changed. And to change this BAD law, these actions need to be taken by those that disagree with the bad law. Even you say you disagree; however, you offer no solution.

      BTW, the RIAA is not entitled to shit. It's allowed to access the information by the law. Legal 101.
    • vigilante, n : a member of a volunteer committee organized to suppress and punish crime summarily

      I believe the word you wanted was "rogue", not "vigilante".
  • by El (94934) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:46PM (#7139982)
    One of my neighbors has been fooling enough to set up a wireless router with no encryption. If I now run P2P software through his cable connection, can he be sued by the RIAA? Is "gee, I'm stupid enough to leave my cable connection wide open so anybody can use it" and affirmative defense?
    • That's something I've been thinking about, too. Say I take my laptop to Starbucks (or one of plenty of non-WEP access points) and start sharing 20K files on kazaa, who will be responsible? They certainly won't be able to find me.
      • >Say I take my laptop to Starbucks..... They certainly won't be able to find me

        Beware of Cookies and JAVA!
        If they don't bully the hotspot provider into filtering ports, they'll be tracking you by dropping a sugar coated RFID bug in your coffee. That's in case your location or the weather don't allow the satellites to scan the UV-readable barcode on your forehead, and you're out of view of the cameras in-store, at nearby traffic signals and those watchful ATM machines. Although your IP is more than lik
    • Does Kazaa even work behind a firewall doing NAT? It seems like all incoming connections would be blocked...
  • Logic Error (Score:3, Funny)

    by AvantLegion (595806) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @07:50PM (#7140012) Journal
    Charter....... good?

    *head explodes*

  • by Skapare (16644) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @08:07PM (#7140091) Homepage

    Hello and welcome to Charter Communications' legal support department. Your call is very important to us. Please listen to this menu carefully since options have changed. If you are calling about your lawsuit against us because your cable bill is too high, please press 1 now. If you are calling about your lawsuit against us because we double billed you, please press 2 now. If you are calling about your lawsuit against us because we have not paid your program provider fees, please press 3 now. If you are calling about your subpoena to divulge the names and credit card payment records of customers that are sharing music online please press 4 now. If you are calling about our violations of local ....

    *** beep *** (pressed 4)

    [click] [click] [pause] [click] [click]

    Hello and welcome to Charter Communications' copyright enforcement department. Your call is very important to us. Please listen to this menu carefully since options have changed. If you are calling about your neighbor recording premium movies, please press 1 now. If you are calling about our customers that are downloading music on the internet, please press 2 now. If you are ....

    *** beep *** (pressed 2)

    [pause] [click] [click] [pause]

    Hello and welcome to Charter Communications' music piracy department. Your call is very important to us. Please listen to this menu carefully since options have changed. If you are calling about a subpoena you have already sent to us, please have your subpoena registration number handy and press 1 now. If you are calling to register a new subpoena with use, please have the account number of the customer this subpoena refers to handy and press 2 now. If you are calling to obtain a customer account number, please have the name of the customer handy and press 3 now. If you are calling to obtain the name of a customer please have the IP address and time handy, and press 4 now. If you are ....

    *** beep *** (pressed 4)

    [pause] [click] [pause] [click] [pause]

    Hello and welcome to the Charter Communications' online customer identification system. Please have the IP address and time the customer was online handy. If you already have an identification system authorization number, please press 1 now. If you do not already have an identification system authorization number, and wish to register to obtain one, please press 2 now. To repeat this ...

    *** beep *** (pressed 2)

    [pause] [click]

    Hello and welcome to the Charter Communications' online customer identification system user authorization registration system. Please listen to this menu carefully since options have changed. If you are already a Charter Communications home cable customer, please press 1 now. If you are already a Charter Communications business internet customer, please press 2 now. If you are not a Charter Communications customer and would like to sign up for Charter Communications' cable service in your home or business today, please press 3 now. If you are not a Charter Communications customer and do not wish to sign up for cable service at this time, please press 4 now. To repeat ....

    *** beep *** (pressed 4)

    [click] [click]

    Hello and welcome to Charter Communications' business relations department. Your call is very important to us. Please listen to this menu carefully since options have changed. If you are calling about an existing business relation that is satisfactory to you, please press 1 now. If you are calling about an existing business relation that is unsatisfactory to you, please press 2 now. If you are calling to establish a new business relationship, please have your business name and taxpayer identification number handy, and press 3 now. To repeat this ....

    *** beep *** (pressed 3)

    [pause] [click] [pause] [click] [pause] [click] [pause]

    Hello and welcome to Charter Communications' business rel

  • by ChaseTec (447725) <chase@osdev.org> on Sunday October 05, 2003 @08:18PM (#7140143) Homepage
    Charter may be the first cable ISP to fight but SBC has been fighting already as shown:

    here [bizjournals.com]
    here [sbc.com]
    and here [wired.com]

  • I'm confused... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by stubear (130454) on Sunday October 05, 2003 @08:20PM (#7140167)
    Didn't people here want the RIAA to leave the P2P apps alone a couple years ago, instead saying they should go after the people violating copyrights? Now that they're doing that you very same people are suggesting that the RIAA be denied the right to protect its IP? Which way do you want it? Would you rather they go after the P2P apps again and possibly get even more restrictive internet legislation passed or they go after the people responsible for violating current copyright laws?
    • Which way do you want it?

      We want them going after people they aren't going after now, and stop going after people they are going after now.

      Rinse and repeat.

  • So far, the group has filed suits against 261 people, none of them in the St. Louis area.

    I wonder why...? [grin]

  • ...who have so many spammers that they're now in the SpamHaus [spamhaus.org] database, and whose spammers have been joe-jobbing my domain (from numerous charter.com and charter.net connections) for the last month, and whose sysadmins competely ignore my complaints? Just checking...

"Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods." -- Albert Einstein

Working...