some of you know this so this is for the ones that don't
In an astounding blow to the RIAA's campaign to cripple file-sharing, the United States Court of Appeals, located in Washington DC has ruled the RIAA's subpoenas, based on the DMCA, are invalid for the following reasons:
1) § 512(h) (subpoena notification subsection of the DMCA) does not authorize the issuance of a subpoena to an ISP acting solely as a conduit for communications the content of which is determined by others;
2) the district court lacked Article III jurisdiction to issue a subpoena with no underlying ??case or controversy?? pending before the court;
3) violates the First Amendment because it lacks sufficient safeguards to protectn an internet user?s ability to speak and to associate anonymously.
From the Court's ruling, "The RIAA?s notification identifies absolutely no material Verizon could remove or access to which it could disable, which indicates to us that § 512©(3)(A) concerns means of infringement other than P2P file sharing."
In one of the more significant points of the ruling, the court stated the RIAA could not meet the subpoena requirements of subsection "h", because that subsection refers to material that an ISP can directly control. Since all P2P traffic is between peers, and the ISP merely acts as a conduit, subsection "h" simply does not apply to Verizon. With this enormous precedent set, it will surely apply to all ISP's.
Cary Sherman, RIAA President, weighed in on the ruling. "Regardless of this decision, we will continue to defend our rights online on behalf of artists, songwriters and countless others involved in bringing music to the public. We can and will continue to file copyright infringement lawsuits against file sharers who engage in illegal activity."
He added that the decision "is inconsistent with both the view of Congress and the findings of the District Court. 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. Verizon is solely responsible for a legal process that will now be less sensitive to the interests of its subscribers who engage in illegal activity."
It will be interesting to see how the RIAA plans to maintain their campaign's ferocity without the benefit of the DMCA's subpoena process.
The RIAA began its campaign against the file-sharing community on June 26, 2003, and has subpoenaed nearly 1,000 individuals. Verizon, along with Pacific Bell Internet Services, have vigorously fought the RIAA. Verizon was forced by a lower court to give up the names of individuals cited by the RIAA as copyright infringers; however they refused to comply with this request and began a long appeal process.
In a case many analysts felt impossible to win, this is a victory for everyone; not just Verizon, the ISPs or the individuals pursued by the RIAA. Anyone with concern for their rights can relish this day of renewed freedom for the Internet community.
Keep in mind while this is an important win for the Internet community, this is certainly not the end of the RIAA or its struggle against P2P. This will most certainly continue to drag on until it reaches the Supreme Court.
You can read the court ruling here. (PDF format)