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Verizon loses RIAA piracy case

Makes one last attempt for privacy

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Verizon has vowed to continue its fight to refuse to reveal the identity of one of its punters accused of pirating music, claming the matter could have a "chilling effect" on Internet users.

Its continued stand for online privacy comes as a US judge upheld an earlier decision forcing Verizon to hand over the information. Verizon has 14 days to surrender the data although it is embarking on a last-ditch appeal to try and get the decision blocked.

The case stems from lawsuit filed last summer by the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA). The RIAA demanded that Verizon Online hand over the name of a customer it alleged held illegal copies of copyrighted music files.

Verizon refused to comply. In January, a court ruled that it had to hand over the information to the RIAA. Verizon appealed against that decision although this was rejected yesterday.

In a statement, John Thorne, senior VP and deputy general counsel for Verizon, said: "Today's ruling goes far beyond the interests of large copyright monopolists - such as the RIAA - in enforcing its copyrights.

"This decision exposes anyone who uses the Internet to potential predators, scam artists and crooks, including identity thieves and stalkers.

"Verizon feels very strongly that the privacy, safety and due process rights of hundreds of thousands - or perhaps millions - of Internet subscribers hang in the balance of the court's decision," he said.

Welcoming the decision, Cary Sherman, President of the RIAA said: "If users of pirate peer-to-peer sites don't want to be identified, they should not break the law by illegally distributing music. Today's decision makes clear that these individuals cannot rely on their ISPs to shield them from accountability." ®

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