I would just post a link to the story but the site requires registration...so here's the full story. (fucking RIAA)
p.s. dig the last paragraph.
In a victory for the record industry, Verizon Communications said yesterday that it would turn over the names of four online subscribers accused of illegally copying music over the Internet to an industry trade group after a federal appeals court rejected its request for a delay pending a final decision in the case.
The ruling removes — at least temporarily — the presumed veil of anonymity from the millions of people who let other Internet users download copyrighted music from their personal computers using programs like KaZaA.
It is also a blow to Internet service providers and privacy advocates who argue that the subpoena process used by the Recording Industry Association of America in seeking the names of digital music swappers violates the rights of Internet users.
"Verizon remains concerned that the R.I.A.A. and other copyright owners and people who are not copyright owners may abuse this process," said Sara Deutsch, vice president and associate general counsel for Verizon. "In light of the court's decision, it is time for Congress to become involved and offer a legislative solution."
The recording industry group lauded the decision. "The Court of Appeals decision confirms our long-held position that music pirates must be held accountable for their actions and not be allowed to hide behind the company that provides their Internet service," said Cary Sherman, the president of the R.I.A.A. He said the industry looked forward "to Verizon's speedy compliance with this ruling."
While agreeing to turn the names over, Verizon will continue to challenge two rulings by a federal district judge who ordered the company to comply with subpoenas issued by the record industry group under a shortcut aimed at helping copyright owners fight digital piracy. The company argues that the process lends itself to abuses that could result in names of suspected copyright abusers being turned over without good cause. Under the rulings, an Internet provider can be forced to disclose the identity of its users without a judge's specific approval.
Ms. Deutsch, the Verizon lawyer, noted that the industry trade group apologized last month to Pennsylvania State University for sending a warning to the school's astronomy department demanding that songs by the musician Usher be removed.
It turned out the trade group's automated search program had matched files containing the name of a retired professor named Peter Usher and "mp3," the name of a popular music format, spurring the group to issue the erroneous cease-and-desist letter.
Web site owners also could use the process to get the names of people who visit their site for marketing purposes, privacy advocates said.
"The net effect of a decision like this one is to open the door for use of subpoenas for any purpose," said Marc Rotenberg, a lawyer at the Electronic Privacy Information Center, adding, "Our sense is that this door shouldn't be open, at least not this wide."
Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican from Kansas, is circulating proposed legislation that would amend the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to require that a copyright holder file a lawsuit to learn the identity of an Internet user suspected of violating its copyright.
Verizon's appeal of the district court's ruling will be heard in September. But yesterday's decision by the appeals court may embolden those who want to contact suspected copyright violators or learn their identities to file lawsuits against them.
The record industry group, which holds online piracy largely responsible for falling sales of recorded music, says it intends to issue a "significant number" of subpoenas. Though it has so far stopped short of saying it will pursue legal action against any of the people identified through this process, it may decide to do so. It could also send warning letters to those people or submit their names to state or federal officials.
Ms. Deutsch said Verizon had already informed the two people whose information is the subject of its lawsuits against the recording industry group. The group has filed two additional subpoenas, and those subscribers have also been informed that their names are to be divulged.
Ms. Deutsch said at least one of the four had removed the KaZaA file-sharing program from his or her computer. Sharman Networks, the owner of KaZaA, which is fighting a lawsuit of its own brought by the recording industry association, declined to comment.
Michael Weiss, the chief executive of Streamcast Networks, which distributes another popular file-sharing program called Morpheus, said the decision would have little impact.
One frequent user of file-sharing software, who insisted on anonymity, said that the fear of being identified might cause some Internet users to think twice before making files available on their hard drives for others to copy.
"It will make people more cautious if they prosecute people to a point where a lot of names are being turned in," said this user, a health care worker in New York.
But others doubted the ruling would curtail the sharing of files. "The technology will move faster than the court systems," said Jorge A. Gonzalez, the founder of Zeropaid.com, a repository of information for file-sharing software. "The new programs being developed are going to mask users. By the time Verizon has to start turning over a lot of names, the identities of users will be unknown.