Despite a judge’s decision last Friday that two universities did not have to comply with subpoenas asking them to hand over the names of students suspected of illegal file trading, the recording industry said this week that it will continue to file subpoenas in its campaign against piracy.
“This is a minor procedural issue,” a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America Inc. (RIAA) said Tuesday.
U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Tauro declared Friday that the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Boston College do not have to comply with the subpoenas because they were filed in Washington, D.C., and do not apply to the universities in Massachusetts.
However, the RIAA has said that it believes that the law allows copyright holders to file information subpoenas in any court in the country. “Ultimately, we will file those subpoenas wherever the courts require us to,” the RIAA said in a statement this week.
Faced with the growing popularity of peer-to-peer (P-to-P) file trading and the music piracy that has accompanied it, the U.S. recording industry launched a nationwide campaign to quash copyright infringement by going after individual users.
The industry is looking to universities and Internet service providers (ISPs) to aid its campaign, and has filed numerous subpoenas requesting that they disclose the identities of suspected illegal music traders.
The industry is relying on a part of the 1998 U.S. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) which allows copyright holders to subpoena ISPs for the names of people they believe are using their copyright material without permission.
Although Tauro ruled that the subpoenas filed in Washington, D.C., do not apply to the universities, the RIAA said in a statement that the “procedural issue” does not change the fact that when individuals illegally distribute music online “they are not anonymous and service providers must reveal who they are.”
In June, Verizon Internet Services Inc. was forced to turn over the names of suspected music pirates to the RIAA after a federal judge denied the company’s request for a stay pending an appeal.
Verizon and a handful of other ISPs and privacy groups have vowed to fight the portion of the DMCA that allows copyright holders to file clerk-issued subpoenas, saying they violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on using court powers when there is no pending case or controversy.