Court: Net Music Subpoenas Not Allowed
Fri December 19, 2003 12:49 PM ET
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By Andy Sullivan
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a surprise setback for the beleaguered recording industry, a U.S. appeals court ruled that record labels cannot force Internet service providers to name customers who illegally copy music online.
Existing copyright law does not allow record labels to force Internet providers to turn over customer names without a formal lawsuit, the court said, adding the industry's legal argument "borders upon the silly."
The decision complicates the recording industry's efforts to stamp out the online traffic in copyrighted songs over "peer to peer" networks like Kazaa, a practice the industry says has contributed to plummeting CD sales.
The Recording Industry Association of America has reached out-of-court settlements with at least 220 Internet users after tracking their activity online and forcing Internet providers to turn over their names.
The trade group will continue to file lawsuits against those it suspects of copyright violations but will not be able to warn them beforehand, an RIAA official said in a statement.