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Appeals Court Rules Against RIAA in DMCA Subpoena Case 839

Posted by michael
from the no-records-for-you dept.
JohnTheFisherman writes "My Way News is reporting that a Federal appeals court ruled that the RIAA can't compel the ISP to provide the name of the downloaders in their case against Verizon. In fact, the court said that one of the arguments the RIAA used 'borders upon the silly.' I believe most here will agree that this is great news." We've been following this case for a while.
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Appeals Court Rules Against RIAA in DMCA Subpoena Case

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  • hee hee (Score:5, Funny)

    by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday December 19, 2003 @12:58PM (#7765488) Homepage Journal

    [...] rejecting the trade group's claims that Verizon was responsible for downloaded music because such data files traverse its network.

    Well, it appears the RIAA will have to focus on a different network layer: they'll start suing the cat-5 and fiber optic manufacturers..
    • Re:hee hee (Score:4, Interesting)

      by tds67 (670584) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:09PM (#7765681)
      Well, it appears the RIAA will have to focus on a different network layer: they'll start suing the cat-5 and fiber optic manufacturers..

      Why not go to the source--DARPA? They started this damned Internet thing in the first place. Let the federal government deal with these RIAA arseholes...that would be sweet justice, because the feds are the enablers (via DMCA and other stupid laws) of the RIAA anyway.

    • Re:hee hee (Score:5, Funny)

      by Kenja (541830) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:12PM (#7765727)
      Well since I use CAT-6 copper I should be OK.
    • by handy_vandal (606174) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:55PM (#7766288) Homepage Journal
      Well, it appears the RIAA will have to focus on a different network layer: they'll start suing the cat-5 and fiber optic manufacturers.

      Suing fiber optic manufacturers misses the point.

      What does fiber optic cable transmit? Light. And who is responsible for light?

      "And God said, Let there be light; and there was light (Genesis 1:3)."

      -kgj
    • Well (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Friday December 19, 2003 @02:49PM (#7766958)
      In fact, the court said that one of the arguments the RIAA used 'borders upon the silly.'

      The court also said the following:

      The appeals judges said they sympathized with the recording industry, noting that "stakes are large." But the judges said it was not the role of courts to rewrite the 1998 copyright law, "no matter how damaging that development has been to the music industry or threatens being to the motion picture and software industries."

      In other words, this was a technical ruling.

      The difference with Slashdot between other media outlets is that Slashdot doesn't dare mention the damage to the music industry. It's all a "culture movement," or something.

      I used to disagree with the RIAA's tactics, but when I think about this situation, I really do have to wonder. There are people illegally trading music files. The RIAA wanted to get their names in order to prosecute them individually (which is what Slashdotters used to say they should do back when they were suing Napster). What was wrong with the RIAA going after people infringing on their copyrights again? What do I lose from them doing that? Nobody has ever offered an actual, cohesive argument. It seems like no matter what they do, Slashdotters are against them preventing piracy of their works.

      I notice people here seem to be against software piracy. Movie piracy is about 50/50. Music piracy is maybe 90/10. Why? Convenience? I don't get it. It's wrong no matter the files being traded. You didn't pay to get the music. Nobody seems to care that some human beings paid for a studio and recorded the music for a record label that distributed it for them. Instead, it's, "Down with RIAA!"

      I just don't get the revolution, I guess.
      • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Inebrius (715009) * on Friday December 19, 2003 @02:58PM (#7767071)
        The difference is we know that copyright laws are wrong. They are too long (life + 75, 95 years for corporations). The penalties are excessive beyond any semblance of actual damages or reasonable penalties. The law itself is gray on what rights we do have, and what is fair use.

        The music industry has practices market control and price manipulation.

        Given that, I side with the 60 million+ file swappers and they have my sympathy, not the RIAA.
      • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

        by NanoGator (522640) on Friday December 19, 2003 @03:10PM (#7767191) Homepage Journal
        "You didn't pay to get the music. Nobody seems to care that some human beings paid for a studio and recorded the music for a record label that distributed it for them. Instead, it's, "Down with RIAA!"

        I just don't get the revolution, I guess."


        No, you don't get it. The $0.00 price tag isn't what 'the pedantic slashbots' are defending. If that were true, iTunes would not be wildly successful. Instead, what we really want is for the Music Industry to realize there is demand here, and supply it. Instead, they insist we buy their content at a premium, thus paying for content we do not want. (I happen to know for a fact that at some point in your life, you bought an album and only liked a song or two on it.) Since the RIAA is an oligopoly, what they say goes, no matter what consumer demand is. Because that, they have no need to innovate. If they had any real competition whatsoever, we'd have had internet music legitimately for years now.

        That's just one facet of the problem. Another one is the whole 'downloading == stealing' crap. Yes, there is a scenario where you can download music, not pay for it, and it would be rightfully called stealing. However, you cannot apply the term 'stealing' as an umbrella term encompassing everybody who downloads music. Why? Simple. How many people are downloading Mp3s of the music they already have so they can just have one big playlist instead of swapping CDs? How many people are downloading a song because they heard it on the radio a million times? Why would downloading the MP3 be worse than hooking a radio up to your computer and capturing it off the airwaves? How many people are browsing, looking for new music to get into? If they download the song, listen 2-3 times, then either stop listening or just delete it, have they really stolen?

        Music in the digital age is being stifled. We want music in compressed format. We want our collection to be available at the click of a mouse. We want to be able to get new music off the internet. We want to have matchbook-sized MP3 players so we can toss those huge clunky CD players that only hold an hour music. We want the ability to search for new music and expand our tastes. We want to pay on a per-song basis instead of being forced to buy an album containing music we may not want.

        None of these requests are unreasonable. However, the RIAA fought against providing them, calling people thieves in the process. So, the people felt the need to become independent and create their own delivery channel. Illegal? Yes. Immoral? Yes, in a sense. It was also immoral to abuse oligopoly power.

        I doubt you'll read my post and instantly agree with me, but I do hope you'll at least reward the time I spent writing this by just considering some of the things I've said. It's really hard to call it stealing when people are obviously willing to spend lots of money on digital music. ($399 for an iPod, for example.)
        • Re:Well (Score:5, Interesting)

          by SWroclawski (95770) <serge.wroclawski@org> on Friday December 19, 2003 @03:55PM (#7767784) Homepage
          I'd disagee in one area- and that's the album.

          There are some music peices which are really part of a whole.

          Examples that come to mind are Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, Kraftert's Man Machine or others.

          An artist sometimes puts an albumn together not JUST to fill up a record or CDs worth of music but as a single thing. When you say you want to rip one part of it out, I think you're doing a disservice to the artist.

          The issue for me is about control and morals. The moral issue is that of cultural exchange- and that's what music, books and movies are. The issue of control is the issue of 'to what length will these companies to go keep control over consumers'.

          - Serge
          • Re:Well (Score:5, Insightful)

            by SimplyCosmic (15296) on Friday December 19, 2003 @04:21PM (#7768079) Homepage
            So if I toss in my Dark Side of the Moon CD into the player and only listen to one song am I also doing a disservice to the artist? Should I only be allowed to play the entire contents of the CD, in order?

            I see no difference between not being allowed to buy an individual song and not being allowed to play an individual song from a CD you own, other than the excess money the industry gets in the former for things you don't want.
        • Re:Well (Score:5, Funny)

          by CmdrTHAC0 (229186) on Friday December 19, 2003 @06:07PM (#7769185)
          (I happen to know for a fact that at some point in your life, you bought an album and only liked a song or two on it.)

          I can beat that. I once bought a single I didn't like.

        • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

          by ruiner13 (527499) on Friday December 19, 2003 @06:16PM (#7769271) Homepage
          "No, you don't get it. The $0.00 price tag isn't what 'the pedantic slashbots' are defending. If that were true, iTunes would not be wildly successful. Instead, what we really want is for the Music Industry to realize there is demand here, and supply it. Instead, they insist we buy their content at a premium, thus paying for content we do not want."

          Well, the real problem is that instead of facing the painfully obvious conclusion that there was a demand for digital music on the internet, they tried to take an existing technology and make it non-upwards-compatible. They wanted to make CDs not work in newer gadgets (like computers, which also killed a lot of other newer cd players which were more like customized cd-roms). They tried to sue their own potential customers who were guilty of wanting to listen to music instead of try to offer them a legal alternative. They have been artificially inflating the prices of cds for around 20 years now (and were CONVICTED in court of this), while giving the artists responsible for the music a very small portion of their profits.

          If you can't find one reason in there to not like the RIAA, please let me know why.

      • by StringBlade (557322) on Friday December 19, 2003 @03:34PM (#7767492) Journal
        But my beef with the RIAA is their tactics and approach to the problem.

        Namely, their approach is you are guilty until proven innocent. This really sucks for those poor saps who are fingered by the RIAA as a theif to be proven innocent, only that person (or family) does not have the means to present themselves in court to proove their innocence. Therefore, they aren't left with much of a choice of action except to pay what they can (usually a hefty amount of their livlihood) and hope the RIAA will leave them alone.

        Certainly there are people abusing the systems, but witch hunts have never been the solution. The RIAA also has not attempted to work with the P2P networks (to my knowledge) to resolve this is a civilized way. "Civil" to the RIAA is always followed by "Court". Just as I oppose Microsoft's business practices, I oppose the RIAA's and TicketMaster's and other monopolistic businesses that abuse their power.

        Just because a monopoly exists doesn't mean I'm opposed to it straight away. Take the US Postal Service for instance. It goes without saying most people who send snail mail letters (not packages) use the USPS. In that way, the USPS is an effective monopoly. (do we not all go buy a bunch of 1 cent stamps when they bump up the cost of postage?) But aside from bumping up the postage three times in rapid succession in years past, they've been quite good about not *thoroughly* abusing their customers (some may argue when trying to send a package, but I'm talking about letters here).

        In the end: does the RIAA have a right to sue copyright infringment? Yes. Do they even have a right to subpoena ISPs for the infringing user's contact information: Maybe (yes, under the Damn Merciless Corruption Act). Is their approach to this technology and even finding out the real infringers severly flawed? Hell yes. (a 12 year old, a Mac owner, and an old couple w/o a computer come to mind.)

        • by 3terrabyte (693824) on Friday December 19, 2003 @04:15PM (#7767998) Journal
          In the end: does the RIAA have a right to sue copyright infringment? Yes.

          I think $750 per song for someone not making a profit (what bootleggers truly are) is obscene. My fine could fund the whole Iraqi war. They hold that in front of you to force a settlement. That's harrassment, barratry, and inhumane.

          The RIAA has used the money it has ripped off the artists for 70 years to buy more legislation so that it can act as the corporate police. It's time the government goes back to racial profiling or something it's good at, instead of propping up a monopoly that isn't needed for the good of the country.

      • Re:Well (Score:5, Interesting)

        by platypus (18156) on Friday December 19, 2003 @03:40PM (#7767586) Homepage
        Uh, at least my argument to be unsympathetic to these RIAA and whatnot types is a little bit more complex.
        If the music industry wouldn't sell music for an artificially high price, a lot less people would care to pirate music. Further, a ridicously small part is going to people involved in actually producing that product, most goes into the various instances providing infrastructure for selling that music - the record labels, shops etc. Inform yourself about what young artists get for their first record.

        Fact is, music labels as we know them are made redundant by the internet+compression technologies, and that is the real fight they are in. Without the need for an complex and expensive infrastructure, there's suddenly a very low barrier of entry to the market, and this is why the RIAA likes "trusted computing", bdcause they hope this will carry over a higher barrier of entry into the computing age.

        A (crude) analogy to that would be if somehow there would have been a influential horse coaches industries when the car was invented. They would also have done anything in their power to prevent this new technology from making them obsolete.

        Ask yourself this question:
        Why does the record industry not simply put up all their music as mp3s into giant web shops and use their save in infrastructure costs to offer music significantly cheaper? So cheap that many more people would simply buy instead of pirating.

        Do you really think this would make getting mp3z easier than it is now?
        No, but this would open the door for everyone to enter this market, preventing the record industry from getting their ridicolous margins by demonopolizing the market.

        Something similar can be seen with razor blades, I think read somewhere that razor blades are one of the most stolen items in shops. Why? Because nobody in his right mind believes that the price at which they sell is justified.

      • Re:Well (Score:4, Insightful)

        by BigRedFish (676427) on Friday December 19, 2003 @07:28PM (#7769889)

        Slashdot doesn't dare mention the damage to the music industry.

        Maybe that's because the "music industry" hasn't proven that piracy is really what's damaging it?

        Hell, they haven't even proven they're "damaged." All they show is that "sales" aren't meeting "projections." I can think of a few obvious legit reasons why that might happen:

        Their "projections" are over-optimistic, culled from thin air to look good on a PowerPoint slide in some strategy meeting. In reality, the economy is swirling the bowl, and their customers (generally young, and therefore highly economically vulnerable) just can't be shelling out for price-fixed $18.99 CDs right now.

        Or how about, everybody's replaced their "classic rock" vinyl with CDs by now, and the industry just doesn't have anything "in the pipe" to appeal to that crowd - they might sell a few Norah Jones CDs to old Fleetwood Mac fans or something, but for the most part, they've not provided anything to keep their "classic rock" customers buying new CDs, they haven't even tried to cultivate that segment. Result: That percentage of their market is lost to them.

        Here's another idea: "The industry" is hopelessly out-of-touch with its market. It's no secret they've been trying to cater to an uncontroversial lowest-common-denominator for years, but does such a strict LCD even exist? Is the "Balkanization" of the music market into genres (Country, Rock/Pop, Jazz, Rap, etc.) even a natural thing, or an industry-sponsored artificiality that's costing them potential cross-over audiences? I like heavy metal andcountry/western, do I even exist in their market research studies? Probably not, as I understand it, a consumer who likes more than one "genre" is beyond their comprehension.

        And by the by:

        I used to disagree with the RIAA's tactics, but when I think about this situation, I really do have to wonder.

        I still disagree with their tactics, and in my case, they've managed to do the same thing the BSA has: after the BSA started their sweeps, I switched to Linux and OSS and haven't looked back - I don't want anything of theirs in my house that *could* create a potential search, period. Ditto the RIAA, I don't buy "industry" CDs now, or download non-indie MP3s. Nice tactic they got there.

        But what I really wonder about, is this: When an American loses his job to outsourcing, he gets no sympathy - not even recognition that the way the US is set up, he just lost his health insurance, retirement security, may still have student loans to pay, and lives in a society that has been intentionally contrived to make the $600/mo average tithe to car ownership mandatory to remain viable! No, he gets a lecture on "free market forces," "change," and "reality," and is accused of wanting "protectionism."

        When an American corporation turns profits that aren't as high as its own "projections," thanks to a "change" in "free market forces," rather than being told to face "reality," they instead get deputized as their own private extra-judicial, extra-constitutional police force to pursue "protectionism" of their own obsolete market. And then people like the parent poster express sympathy, too.

        I really, really wonder about that.

  • by GillBates0 (664202) on Friday December 19, 2003 @12:59PM (#7765499) Homepage Journal
    Here's my submission of the story:

    According to this CNN story [cnn.com] posted a few minutes back, a U.S. appeals court says that the RIAA's methods for tracking down those who copy its music over the Internet are not authorized by law. "The 1998 copyright law does not give copyright holders the ability to subpoena customer names from Internet providers without filing a formal lawsuit". Note that Verizon suffered setbacks earlier in it's case against the RIAA as reported here [slashdot.org]

    • by GaelenBurns (716462) <gaelenb.assurancetechnologies@com> on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:06PM (#7765634) Homepage Journal
      Our courts have been making some good decisions lately. The President is no longer allowed to hold US Citizens on US soil indefinately and without charges, the MA Courts ruled progressively on gay marriage, and now the RIAA is put in its place. Strike down the Patriot Act and the good old USA is almost back on track. Gotta love that glimmer of hope.
      • w00t.
      • by DLR (18892) <dlrosenthal AT gmail DOT com> on Friday December 19, 2003 @03:00PM (#7767093) Journal
        You have GOT to be kidding me!!! Whether or not you support homosexual marriage is irrelevent. The fact is that the MA Supreme Court subourned the legislative process. The fact that the court (thinks they) can do this should be setting off red flags for every U.S. citizen! Courts have overturned referendums passed by the populace, over ruled laws passed by the Legislative branch for and generally stepped waaay outside the defined role of the Judicial branch in our government. This is a Bad Thing (TM) for our personal individual freedoms, just in case no one is paying attention.
        • by Jhon (241832) on Friday December 19, 2003 @03:38PM (#7767564) Homepage Journal
          I wish I had mod points -- you are right on. It is NOT the job of the judiciary to MAKE law -- it's the job to interpret the law and make sure it falls within the frame work of the constitution.

          Outside of the MA court system, the 9th circuit is a prime example of this jucicial activism abuse. It's stacked liberal 2:1. That means any 3-judge panel is most likely going to end up 2:1 liberal. Talk about stacking the courts. They need to be more MODERATE. It shouldn't be surprising that 3/4's of all appealed 9th circuit judments that get accepted are overturned.

          I'd also like to point out that it is NOT the job of the legislature to decide WHO gets to become a judge -- but to decide of they can/are qualified to do the job once nominated by the executive branch.

          These are two outragous examples of two branches operating outside the separation of powers.

          -jhon
          • Lies, damn lies... (Score:5, Informative)

            by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday December 19, 2003 @04:44PM (#7768355) Homepage
            They need to be more MODERATE. It shouldn't be surprising that 3/4's of all appealed 9th circuit judments that get accepted are overturned.

            And statisticts! Woo!

            Your big, stinking lie was to omit the fact that 3/4 is the rate of overturning for all circuits, not just the 9th. So your 3/4th statistic is meaningless, and your implication that they make bad decisions due to liberal stacking is baseless.

            Here's a [centerfori...reedom.org]
            site that is clearly not a fan of the 9th Circuit court. According to their data, the 9th Circuit has had 18 of 24 cases overturned, or 75%. The rest of the circuits had a total of 41 of 56 cases overturned, or 73.2%. That's an average. Some circuits have an overturn rate of 100%.

            Have a nice day.

            • by Jhon (241832) on Friday December 19, 2003 @06:46PM (#7769530) Homepage Journal
              *MY" big stinking lie, huh? I think you need to actually READ the articles you cite:
              This means that, on average, a case from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit was more than twice as likely to be reviewed and produce a written decision by the U.S. Supreme Court than was a case from the other federal appeals courts. By contrast, a case from the second busiest circuit, the 5th, was nearly a third less likely to be reviewed and decided by the High Court than the average federal appellate case.
              and
              It is true that the overall reversal rate of the 9th Circuit (75%) was lower than that of other federal appellate courts ... which were all reversed 100% of the time this past term. Yet these "complete" reversal rates are likely due to much less frequent review of those circuits by the U.S. Supreme Court. ... Thus, the 9th Circuit's lower overall reversal rate does not demonstrate the justices' greater agreement with the decisions of the 9th Circuit, but is likely attributable to that circuit's much higher review rate.
              Have a nicer day -- and maybe try to digest what you read.
              • by Chris Burke (6130) on Friday December 19, 2003 @10:43PM (#7771088) Homepage
                Yeah, your big, stinking lie. You just threw that 3/4 number out there, without even comparing it to other courts, as if it meant something.

                Getting on...

                The first paragraph you quote has merit. However, I should point out that the Supreme Court does not choose to review cases based upon the fact that they are bad or likely to be overturned. Cases appear before them because the case is appealed, and they choose to hear the case typically because the case involves aspects of Constitutional law or conflicts between circuits. So the fact that more of the 9th Circuit's cases are seen by the Supreme Court could be for any number of reasons completely unrelated to your thesis.

                The second paragraph you quote is nothing but speculation, though there is probably some truth to it. I wasn't drawing any conclusions from it myself, just further pointing out that the conclusion you wished people to draw from your seemingly high 75% reversal figure was not supported at all.

                I did digest what I read. I didn't include figures that weren't relevent to proving/disproving your thesis and pointing out your lie. If you want to bring those points up, fine, but don't call me a liar for not doing it myself, liar.

                I hope your day was nice.
          • by mickwd (196449) on Friday December 19, 2003 @05:54PM (#7769045)
            "It is NOT the job of the judiciary to MAKE law -- it's the job to interpret the law and make sure it falls within the frame work of the constitution."

            Then perhaps it would be interesting to read the closing statement of the court's judgement in the case which this story is about.

            From The Register: [theregister.co.uk]

            "It is not the province of the courts, however, to rewrite the DMCA in order to make it fit a new and unforseen internet architecture, no matter how damaging that development has been to the music industry or threatens being to the motion picture and software industries. The plight of copyrightholders must be addressed in the first instance by the Congress; only the Congress has the constitutional authority and the institutional ability to accommodate fully the varied permutations of competing interests that are inevitably implicated by such new technology."

        • by MikeTheYak (123496) on Friday December 19, 2003 @04:15PM (#7767994)
          Except that it is the job of the judiciary to intervene if legislation oversteps the power granted to the legislature. The MA court did not specifically legalize gay marriage. What it did was reject, on Constitutional grounds, a law banning gay marriage. It's a fine point, but an important one. It's part of the system of checks and balances. There are more checks and balances--the US Supreme Court can still override them on appeal.
    • by bryansj (89051) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:30PM (#7765955)
      I'm wondering how this could be used to overturn the lawsuits from the individuals that have already been fined by the RIAA. It seems like this ruling could be grounds for the case to be dismissed and all those 15 year olds and grandmothers won't have to pay up. Illegally collected evidence doesn't seem to stand up very well in court, per CSI episodes :)
    • by rjelks (635588) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:32PM (#7765984) Homepage
      In other news:

      The A.P. is reporting a record number of users on all p2p networks. Kazaa's userbase shoots up to over 5 million.

      .
  • Two comments: (Score:5, Informative)

    by GnrlFajita (732246) <<brad> <at> <thewillards.us>> on Friday December 19, 2003 @12:59PM (#7765500) Homepage

    First, this is good news but not great. The RIAA can't get subpoenas under these circumstances, but the court did not rule that provision of the DMCA unconstitutional, so the door is not completely shut.

    Second, before you ask, this only covers one federal circuit (& the smallest one at that), not the entire nation, but in intellectual property matters what the DC Circuit says usually goes.

    • by Exmet Paff Daxx (535601) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:06PM (#7765636) Homepage Journal
      We have the Internet now, which is owned by AOL, which exists in Virginia. Which is under the D.C. Circuit Court. Which means that whatever they decide applies to an overwhelming majority of the Internet's core infrastructure.

      You must have been thinking of the real world... which is weird, because this is Slashdot.
    • Re:Two comments: (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AndroidCat (229562) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:11PM (#7765716) Homepage
      Yeah, it's good (but not great). It still leaves in place the normal procedure to go after copyright violators, but puts a crack in DMCA. The RIAA should rejoice, they're far less likely to go after some granny or kid this way, making them look like complete jerks. (Now they'll just be incomplete ones.)

      The not great part is definitely the scope of the court, but it's a darned good start. I wonder if the RIAA will try to take it to the Supremes?

    • by schon (31600) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:17PM (#7765798)
      the court did not rule that provision of the DMCA unconstitutional

      No, but it did say (in effect) that the DMCA protects the ISPs, because the ISPs aren't hosting the files.

      Imagine that! The DMCA, lobbied for by the RIAA is coming around to bite them in the ass!

      Gotta love the irony!
      • by tabdelgawad (590061) on Friday December 19, 2003 @02:18PM (#7766578) Homepage
        There's nothing ironic here. The ISPs were never 'liable' for P2P copyright violations. What was at issue was the power to subpoena subscriber names without going through the standard subpoena process (the so-called 'turbocharged subpoena process'), something the DMCA allowed copyright holders to do. The court ruled that this DMCA process does not apply to P2P (DMCA predates wide adoption of P2P, so it wasn't specifically legislated to deal with it).

        The copyright holders can still subpoena names from ISPs, but now they have to file 'John Doe' lawsuits and go through the judicial process to obtain the subpoenas. This is much more expensive, which means they won't be issuing them in the hundreds any more.
  • Good News! but... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by matt4077 (581118) on Friday December 19, 2003 @12:59PM (#7765505) Homepage
    Does anybody know if the ISPs could now be liable if they release thei customers' data without their consent?
  • Great, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by QuackQuack (550293) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:00PM (#7765520) Journal
    What happens to the people who have already been snagged and settled with the RIAA? Are they off the hook?
  • by santos_douglas (633335) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:01PM (#7765534) Journal
    for people who have already settled as a result of prior subpoenas?
  • Some more info... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Exmet Paff Daxx (535601) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:02PM (#7765565) Homepage Journal
    Here's the full text of the ruling [uscourts.gov].

    Interestingly, this is the exact same appeals court that overturned the decision against Microsoft. It's good to know that there are cool, compassionate people in charge of the courts who don't listen to which way the prevailing "geek winds" are blowing on e issue or another but instead disspassionately apply the law. It appears that in their mind, the RIAA is as mistaken as Microsoft was innocent.
  • not quite (Score:5, Informative)

    by capoccia (312092) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:03PM (#7765570) Journal
    the RIAA can still subpoena your personal info. they just are prohibited from doing so without first formally filing a lawsuit against every john/jane doe they wish to sue.
    • Re:not quite (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stwrtpj (518864)
      the RIAA can still subpoena your personal info. they just are prohibited from doing so without first formally filing a lawsuit against every john/jane doe they wish to sue.

      True, but this just reverts things back to the way they are supposed to work. You have to file the lawsuit first and then subpoena the information you need. Otherwise, if you're simply allowed to subpoena outside of a formal lawsuit, you're just on a fishing expedition. Forcing the RIAA to file a lawsuit means they have to have some reas

  • by fname (199759) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:03PM (#7765575) Journal
    Well, this is extremely good news. While I think that the file-sharing that occurs on networks such as Kazaa are largely copyright violations, I'm happy to see that the bar has been significantly raised for the RIAA to go after alleged violators.

    This ruling will help re-establish anonymity on the internet, as users can worry much less about being identified by a vengeful 3rd party-- be it a record label cracking down on copytright violators, a corporation trying to stifle criticism or a politician trying to un-nerve his opposition. This is a beautiful ruling, and if it stands, its effect will reverberate fare part the file sharing arena.
  • by Coirnoir (682214) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:03PM (#7765578)
    "It unfortunately means we can no longer notify illegal file sharers before we file lawsuits against them to offer the opportunity to settle outside of litigation." -RIAA Yep, thats it all right, we're PUSHING them to sue.... They dont really want to after all.. CoirNoir
  • Phew! (Score:5, Funny)

    by asdfasdfasdfasdf (211581) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:04PM (#7765592)
    RIAA can't compel the ISP to provide the name of the downloaders

    Excellent! Now I can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing my obsession with Clay Aiken will remain a secret.

    Oops.
  • Phew (Score:5, Funny)

    by SillySnake (727102) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:04PM (#7765596)
    I was getting tired of driving back home to "see the family" to use their high speed in their name instead of mine. What? Their old.. Less time to serve in prison..
  • by MikeVx (627293) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:04PM (#7765598) Journal
    I submitted this, [freep.com] but not soon enough.
  • by ActionPlant (721843) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:04PM (#7765603) Homepage
    It's always been silly, and it's just now dawning on the judges?

    This is great news. Incentive, really. Yes, the lawsuit was against Verizon, but I see no reason why other companies (and individuals) shouldn't stand up and challenge a lot of what has been going on. It's not necessarily that our judicial system has been in agreement with the RIAA, it's just that people have had no precedence working for them in a courtside challenge. The question now is, which do we take on: the RIAA, or the DMCA itself?

    Damon,
  • Good Thing, But... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tds67 (670584) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:04PM (#7765605)
    ...the real problem is Congress. I think the RIAA will just go back to their Congressional, Sonny Bono-style minions on Capitol Hill to get this "fixed", and we will have another silly DMCA II law that covers this situation.
  • It's about time (Score:5, Insightful)

    by felonious (636719) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:06PM (#7765630) Journal
    Now if we can keep the entertainment industry(s) from now trying to rewrite the laws and make it legal to supoena without judicial oversight well be set. Yes it would mean they'd move to more overtly sinister means but if so they'd be screwing themselves.

    Let us rejoice in this one small/big victory for regular people. You know as big as these lawsuits were supposed to be there's been little if any in the news about them. I think it's more of a campaign of disinformation than anything and some people are weak enough to buy it but most aren't ignorant to what's going on.

    Ponder this...how long until we get pulled over by the police for speeding or something else along those lines and they search our vehicles for mps's burned on cdr's? I can just see being in the "bighouse" with a bunch of murderers and rapists and then they ask me what I did. Oh I just burned some Britney Spears song to a cd. What's that Bubba? Do I have to drop 'em and grab my ankles?

    Our future police state sounds so much fun!
    • I can just see being in the "bighouse" with a bunch of murderers and rapists and then they ask me what I did.

      This just screams out for a reference to Alice's DMCA [sethf.com]...

      ...there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly looking people on the bench there. Viagra spammers. Credit-card crackers. Relay-rapers! Relay-rapers sitting right there on the bench next to me!

  • Be prepared (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:06PM (#7765631)
    The RIAA will lobby for a new law that allows them to get these records. (As the court wisely notes Congress did not contemplate P2P in 1998) If there was a time to mobilize an effective campaign against such a law, now is the time to do it.
  • by i_want_you_to_throw_ (559379) * on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:06PM (#7765632) Homepage Journal
    Then DMCA nonsense can be brought to light and this case quoted everytime this stuff comes up.

    On the other hand, I run a mailing list for travel agents and although collusion among travel agents is illegal (against the Sherman Antitrust Act) I have the list protected via the DMCA. If a vendor gets his hands on a private email from the mailing list, then it's a violation of DMCA just by possessing it.

    Maybe we need to start thinking about ways of using the DMCA to protect ourselves. It's not just for big corporations.
  • IANAL need help (Score:5, Insightful)

    by musikit (716987) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:09PM (#7765675)
    Verizon had argued at its trial that Internet providers should only be compelled to respond to such subpoenas when pirated music is stored on computers that providers directly control, such as a Web site, rather than on a subscriber's personal computer.

    Ok so verizon is arguing that it isn't responsible for what data the users of their service send? that they should only be responsible for data on their servers?

    this makes perfect sense to me if i'm reading this right. data is data how is verizon suppose to know what the data is other then the fact that it run on port X and port X is known to be the default port for kazaa.


    In his ruling, the trial judge wrote that Verizon's interpretation "makes little sense from a policy standpoint," and warned that it "would create a huge loophole in Congress' effort to prevent copyright infringement on the Internet."


    if i was correct before why would this seem silly to the judge? loophole? how is it a loophole? does the USPS scan every mail going through it's buildings for copies of music? it seems to me that kazaa was just speeding up the process.

    Ok other then the fact that most ISP block port 80 and 21 (among other ports) why doesn't these P2P services just use a well known port to transfer files? then in order to shutdown P2P they would have to shutdown the WWW. if i download a song off a computer of port 80 how would verizon/any ISP know it was a copyrighted song?
  • by jamonterrell (517500) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:10PM (#7765693)
    The court did not decide on the constitutionality of obtaining the subpeanas, they simply agreed with Verizons argument that the RIAA did not have the right to obtain them in this particular case. While this does serve as excellent case law for future arguments, it does NOT stop the RIAA from continueing to subpeana other ISPs for information.
  • by indros13 (531405) * on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:10PM (#7765699) Homepage Journal
    Hooray for the courts! In addition to making the RIAA follow the law in getting subpoenas, the courts are finally taking a stand on the unjust inprisonment of "enemy combatants," requiring that our government treat its citizens to their constitutionally guaranteed rights. Next up, SCO goes down in flames and Microsoft will finally get caught by an anti-trust [nytimes.com] lawsuit. Merry Christmas!

  • by Snarfangel (203258) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:13PM (#7765736) Homepage
    let me know.
  • by Don'tTreadOnMe (686201) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:16PM (#7765785)
    In his ruling, the trial judge...warned that it "would create a huge loophole in Congress' effort to prevent copyright infringement on the Internet."

    This means that the RIAA and others will just lobby Congress, and a law that they can use will be passed.

    We're still screwed, privacy-wise, because this development will be temporary.
  • by GTRacer (234395) <gtracer308.yahoo@com> on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:17PM (#7765796) Homepage Journal
    ...for the "Best Spin" of 2003 Award!!!

    Cary Sherman, president of the recording industry group, said the ruling "unfortunately means we can no longer notify illegal file sharers before we file lawsuits against them to offer the opportunity to settle outside of litigation."

    "Offer the opportunity to settle"...Kinda like offering an olive branch made of pointy steel leaves and covered with anthrax. Now that's a classic worth framing!

    GTRacer
    127.0.0.1

  • by MunchMunch (670504) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:21PM (#7765853) Homepage
    That's my main question. If intuition serves, then those subpoenas would be wrongfully obtained and a case couldn't proceed based on them. Naturally, the RIAA still has the option they've always had, namely that of filing a lawsuit to lawfully obtain personal info. For the 200-odd people who are now facing the RIAA 'dentists' (heh), it seems like these cases will be thrown out purely on procedural grounds.

    Naturally, if this ruling stands, I see no other possible result than to either force the RIAA to do just that--file lawsuits before recieving personal info--, or to stop shaking down end users through threats of multi-million dollar lawsuits.

  • by g_adams27 (581237) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:23PM (#7765874)
    Here's the full text [uscourts.gov] of the ruling.

    It's interesting that Verizon won more or less on a single point. ISPs who discover that people are storing pirated content on their (the ISP's) servers can avoid getting in trouble by "respond[ing] expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the material that is claimed to be infringing." That part of the law hasn't changed.

    However, Verizon successfully argued that the responsibility to "remove or disable access to the material" does not apply to ISPs that do not store the data, but instead act as mere conduits through which the pirated files travel. And that's exactly what's going on in the case of P2P file sharing - the illegal file is stored on the pirate's computer, not the ISP's servers.

    Verizon argued that under the DMCA, in order for a subpoena to be valid, it has to contain information about infringing material "to be removed or access to which is to be disabled". Verizon argued that it can't remove the material or disable access to it. And since that requirement for issuing a subpoena cannot be met, the subpoena process does not apply to Verizon. The court agreed.

    The RIAA unsucessfully argued that Verizon could remove access to the infringing material by simply cutting off access to the pirate, but the judge disagreed that that's what the DMCA was talking about when it uses the phrase "diable access".

    From the ruling...
    No matter what information the copyright owner may provide, the ISP can neither "remove" nor "disable access to" the infringing material because that material is not stored on the ISP's servers. Verizon can not remove or disable one user's access to infringing material resident on another user's computer because Verizon does not control the content on its subscribers' computers.

    The ruling concludes with some sympathy by the judges for what the RIAA is trying to do, but a refusal to extend the DMCA to technology like P2P that didn't even exist when the DMCA was written. The court said that if the RIAA wants to subpoena ISPs for information about P2P file traders, it will need to get that additional authority from Congress. A good demonstration of judicial restraint, IMHO.

  • SBC Venue Change (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Aoreias (721149) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:25PM (#7765904)
    IANAL, but it looks like the RIAA's venue change to DC in the SBC Case [slashdot.org] is about to bite them in the ass hard.
  • by kuma_act (549026) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:29PM (#7765951)
    First, the opinion can be found here: http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/common/opinion s/200312/03-7015a.pdf

    The basic holding here is that the subpoena provisions of the DMCA only apply to an ISP who is actually storing the allegedly infringing material on its (the ISP's) servers.

    They base this holding on a finding that, in the case of file-sharing between users, the ISP is simply acting as a conduit for the transfer of information, and has no control over the transfer or the information sent. Since the subpoena provision has a notice provision in it that requires that the content-provider give the ISP enough information to be able to prevent access to the offending material. Since preventing access is impossible without terminating the offender's internet access, a remedy the court dismissed as inappropriate, the court found satisfaction of the notice provision to be impossible.

    The court also ruled that the text of the statute and the legislative history (i.e., comments made and written by Congress as they debated the DMCA before passing it) indicated no awareness of P2P file sharing.

    The court ends by stating that it is "not unsympathetic" to the RIAA's "plight", but it leaves the burden on Congress to change the law, if they think it really needs changing. Rough translation: Start winding up the lobbyists, they have work to do.

  • by Aidtopia (667351) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:30PM (#7765958) Homepage Journal

    DMCA. PATRIOT ACT. CAN-SPAM. Infinite copyright extension.

    Congress doesn't get it. The President doesn't get it. If businesses get it, it won't matter because their interests aren't aligned with ours. If the voters get it, it may not matter if the votes aren't counted right (paperless voting machines).

    The only hope is if the judges get it. For the next few elections, I think judicial appointments will be the key factor in who I vote for.

    Stories like this give me a little hope.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:30PM (#7765967)
    ...doesn't the language of the ruling seem to give anyone the impression that this court is essentially begging for an improved DMCA that would have the teeth to offer these subpoena powers?

    It seems to me that the gist of the judges' takes are "look, the fact that we don't like this filesharing thing any more than you do doesn't mean that you can twist and turn the present laws for your own purposes. Lobby for better laws, and then we'll talk and we'll probably agree with you."

    This language is the most worrisome to me:

    It is not the province of the courts, however, to rewrite the DMCA in order to make it fit a new and unforseen internet architecture, no matter how damaging that development has been to the music industry or threatens being to the motion picture and software industries.

    The implication is that the present internet architecture is damaging to the music industry, and the music industry's woes have nothing whatsoever to do with fundamental failures to serve the market.

    I'm not jumping for joy at this ruling. If anything, it's a short-term gain embedded in language that is entirely slanted towards the industry.

    -chuck

  • by Sheepdot (211478) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:31PM (#7765978) Journal

    Don't get me wrong, the MPAA is just as zealous over IP as the RIAA, but I saw one of those ads before the trailers when I went to see Matrix III.

    You know, the advertisements where they get a camera guy that is in an equipment storage shed talking about how pirating hurts the little guy.

    Well, damn, I just felt so horrible after the ad was done that I promised myself I wouldn't pirate Matrix III. Then I saw how horrible it was over the next 2 hours and realized something huge:

    The movies that I *don't* want to pirate always end up being pure crap. And the movies that I *do* pirate end up being the ones I later buy on DVD when they come out.

    Disney's Pirates ... is a great example of this. "The Ring", "Frailty", "Final Destination 1 & 2", and "Signs" are others.

    In fact, looking through my DVD library I'm realizing that there are several movies that I just flat out would have never have bought on DVD had I not seen them online. And I certainly wouldn't have seen them in the overpriced and crowded theatres.

    So how many people are like me? And what happens to their profits when we *QUIT* catching these hidden gems online?

  • by weslocke (240386) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:35PM (#7766028)
    My question here is in relation to the infamous 'Comcast DMCA Letters' that I've heard about, where subscribers are notified that they have been found to be hosting copyrighted files, or otherwise breaking the DMCA, through a p2p program (BitTorrent, Emule, etc). The ISP essentially warns the user, "We know who you are, we know what you're doing, now stop it or we'll cut your access before we're held liable."

    but with statements like:
    No matter what information the copyright owner may provide, the ISP can neither "remove" nor "disable access to" the infringing material because that material is not stored on the ISP's servers. Verizon can not remove or disable one user's access to infringing material resident on another user's computer because Verizon does not control the content on its subscribers' computers

    Doesn't that seem to take the burden from the ISP for making sure that the offending material is removed from the subscriber's system?
  • In related news. (Score:5, Informative)

    by blair1q (305137) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:36PM (#7766033) Journal
    The Dutch courts have ruled [yahoo.com] that the IFPI [ifpi.org] (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, a worldwide analogue of the RIAA), can not sue Kazaa [kazaa.com] for the transgressions of its users (e.g. [kazaausers.com]). This means Kazaa will be available for legal filesharing [usatoday.com], and the recording industry [uchicago.edu] must go after individuals who engage in illegal filesharing [techdirt.com].

    The Dutch [groggy.de] make up about 20% of the world's filesharing individuals, according to the article.
  • by Darth23 (720385) on Friday December 19, 2003 @01:45PM (#7766154) Journal
    Correct? If Comcast decided that it was in their interest to help out the RIAA, could could turn over requested info on their user's names. The article seems to be saying only that an ISP can't be FORCED to reveal the information without a court order signed by a judge.
  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Friday December 19, 2003 @02:03PM (#7766395) Homepage Journal
    The view from outside the ISP's network, is that the data is coming from the ISP. From outside, it looks the same, whether it originates on a machine under the ISP's control or a machine under their customer's control: the world just sees the packet coming from the ISP.

    The intent of the DMCA's notifcation mechanism, is that the ISP either has to take responsibility for the packets they are transmitting to the rest of the world, or pass the buck to whoever is responsible. In light of that, this ruling appears to subvert the intent of the law.

    The issue shouldn't be about who owns a piece of equipment; it should be about who is responsible for that equipment's behavior. DMCA was intended to identify who is responsible for copyright infringement in cases where there is a "common carrier" in the mix. Treating P2P differently than hosting, doesn't make any sense.

    This is a victory only by a perverted technicality, using a loophole. It does not mean that the courts have taken pirates' side. If this ruling stands, then the people who passed DMCA are just going to ammend and "clarify" the law.

  • by sakeneko (447402) on Friday December 19, 2003 @02:26PM (#7766668) Homepage Journal
    The appeals court said one of the arguments by the Recording Industry Association of America "borders upon the silly," rejecting the trade group's claims that Verizon was responsible for downloaded music because such data files traverse its network.

    It looks to me like the appeals court might just have ruled that Verizon is a common carrier.I'm not at all sure this is a good thing. This is why.

    I'm no lawyer, but as I understand it, under U.S. law common carriers (like the phone company) are legally obligated to provide service to all comers at a reasonable price, and for any legal purpose. They cannot pick and choose their customers. In return, they are shielded from liability for what others do using their service. For example, the phone company isn't liable for fraudulent telemarketing calls because it is a common carrier.

    I can think of one possible pitfall right now if ISPs are deemed common carriers. ISPs set their own rules for proper use of their networks -- these are called Authorized Use Policies (AUP) or Terms of Service (TOS). Violations of an ISP's AUP/TOS can and often do result in the violator being disconnected. The most common violators are spammers.

    Thanks (NOT!) to the CAN-Spam Act foisted on us by our foolish and venal Congress and President, spam is legal in the United States as of January 1. :( I am no lawyer, but I do not think a common carrier can legally forbid use of its services for *any* legal purpose. So, if ISPs become common carriers, can they continue to ban use of their networks for spamming?

    Even worse, if ISPs are deemed common carriers, can they block email that was sent in compliance with U.S. law?

    • by Above (100351) on Friday December 19, 2003 @07:04PM (#7769672)

      There are many good articles out there about Common Carrier [umich.edu] laws and regulations. I suggest you read them. I think this lawsuit will have minimal impact on ISP's common carrier status.

      Internet service today, as far as I understand, is not a Common Carrier service by anyones definition. The government doesn't require anyone to provide Internet service at a fixed price. The government doesn't regulate Internet service (although, perhaps some of the underlying infrastructure). I don't think this relatively minor (in the context of common carrier status) point makes a difference.

      That said, most ISP's want to act like common carriers. They usually want to sell to everyone at the published price, and want to carry all content without making editorial decisions. There are some (large) exceptions, but that's broadly true. Does that mean they should be regulated? Probably not. Common Carrier's history was to provide service to people private companies didn't want to service. Since ISP's seem to want to service everyone (within some limits) in a sense for now they can have the best of both worlds.

      Of course, that could all change at any time.

  • Legalise P2P? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SharpFang (651121) on Friday December 19, 2003 @02:28PM (#7766697) Homepage Journal
    I think this could be done. If you can't conquer the enemy, join them.

    A standarised fee added to your standard broadband fees, just like road tax in fuel prices. And legal access to all RIAA/MPAA copyrighted material. They are obligated to create a 100% valid, working copy of anything they release (may be allowed a week-two delay since shop appearance) in MP3/DIVX/whatever, and publish it on their official P2P server for everyone to download. And everyone who pays for network access, pays (proportionally to bandwidth) a little extra. Fees are collected through ISPs. And ISPs may provide "cheaper lines", P2P-free, for anyone not interested in P2P. The traffic on that networks monitored, or just P2P-specific services blocked on routers, so if you set up a dedicated webserver, you don't pay RIAA for its traffic.
  • by cypherwise (650128) on Friday December 19, 2003 @03:07PM (#7767157) Journal
    Here is the DC Appeals court opinion (in PDF): RIAA v. Verizon Internet [uscourts.gov].
  • by Art_Vandelai (596101) on Friday December 19, 2003 @03:35PM (#7767519)
    "The plight of copyright holders must be addressed in the first instance by the Congress; only the Congress has the constitutional authority and the institutional ability to accommodate fully the varied permutations of competing interests that are inevitably implicated by such new technology."
    Looks like the next phase is to lobby Congress for a rewrite or amendment to the DMCA in favour of the RIAA. I shudder to think what other problems that could entail.
  • by serutan (259622) <snoopdoug@g e e k a zon.com> on Friday December 19, 2003 @04:47PM (#7768381) Homepage
    Lawyers are supposed to learn something about ethics during their time in law school. If the RIAA's lawyers entered arguments are so patently groundless that a judge calls them "silly," I would like to see those jackasses fined for wasting the court's time and my tax dollars. How about a charge of creating a public nuisance?

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen

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