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Verizon fights on in RIAA ID case

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Verizon is to appeal against a US court ruling that it should reveal the identity of an Internet subscriber to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America). As a first step, the firm yesterday filed a motion to stay the ruling.

RIAA last week won a court order to obtain the name of a Verizon internet subscriber who was said to be very active in the P2P music swapping game. Verizon says the ruling raises important statutory and constitutional issues.

Here is a statement from John Thorne, senior vice president and deputy general counsel for Verizon.

"Verizon will use every legal means to protect its subscribers' privacy. The recording industry brought this case as a 'test case' of its aggressive legal theories. We are seeking a stay so that the Court of Appeals can issue a final ruling on the critical legal issues before we are required to turn over our subscriber's identity.

"If this ruling stands, consumers will be caught in a digital dragnet -- not only from record companies alleging infringement of their copyright monopolies -- but from anyone who can fill out a simple form."

Quite: El Reg's Andrew Orlowski wrote recently:

"This week ISP Verizon was obliged to hand over personal details of a customer who the RIAA had identified as downloading MP3 files. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation pointed out today, this blows a Scud through the constitution by permitting "any copyright owner who claims infringement can force an ISP to reveal subscribers' identities merely by obtaining a subpoena from a district court clerk, without any judicial oversight."

In other words, in the best tradition of the Salem witchhunts or the McCarthyite lists, a mere accusation of wrongdoing can land you in the clink."

It's not often that a big telco can be said to be on the side of the angels. Verizon is to congratulated for taking this stance. ®

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