Verizon Communications Inc. is seeking to block a court order to reveal the name of an Internet subscriber suspected of sharing music online, the New York company said.
A federal judge last week told Verizon Internet Services Inc. to turn over the name of an individual music downloader to the Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA), the trade group for the largest music labels. Verizon is appealing that decision and has asked the court to stay the order pending appeal, it said in a statement.
Verizon was sued by the RIAA after it refused to comply with a subpoena asking for the name of the subscriber, who used the Kazaa peer-to-peer (P-to-P) file sharing service. The music industry says online sharing of music hurts music sales and compares it to stealing. In separate legal action, the RIAA is pursuing Kazaa and other P-to-P services.
Verizon is not trying to shield customers who break copyright laws, but wants to halt the court order pending appeal to give the appeals court time to review the “statutory and constitutional issues” raised by this case, it said.
The recording industry brought this case as a test case, according to Verizon. If the ruling stands, consumers will be caught in a “digital dragnet,” not only from recording companies alleging copyright infringement, but also from anyone who can fill out a simple form, John Thorne, Verizon senior vice president and deputy general counsel said in a statement.
The RIAA subpoena was issued under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Verizon argued that the subpoena does not address Internet service providers as the copyright protected material is not stored on any of its computers, but on the customers’ local hard disk drive. Several privacy groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, have sided with Verizon in the case.