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RIAA 'encouraging stalkers, molesters' – telco

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US telco giant SBC has hit back at the Recording Industry Association of America's legal blitz against music lovers.

In testimony before the Senate this week, SBC's counsel Jim Ellis said that the RIAA was making an end run around the constitution by issuing a blitz of subpoenas with no judicial oversight.

Ellis argued that the legal tactics deployed by the RIAA could be adopted by Net stalkers and child molesters.

"Under the RIAA's interpretation of the law, anyone willing to pay a small fee and represent that its copyright is being violated would be entitled to know the name, address and phone number of the person behind an anonymous e-mail," said Ellis. "This would readily lead the Internet stalker, the child predator or the abusive spouse to their victims."

But the RIAA is already showing how. Its own stalking and child-bothering resulted in a public relations fiasco last week after a 12-year old girl was slapped with a lawsuit for using the Kazaa file sharing service. Brianna LaHara, a Manhattan schoolgirl living in public housing became the first to settle with the RIAA: the lobby group extracting a $2,000 fine despite there being no evidence that her downloading activity caused the loss of a single CD sale or a cent in artist's royalties.

The RIAA had its defenders, however: Senator Barbara Boxer (D) blasted both SBC and Verizon for "encouraging" music downloads. She quoted from a Verizon brochure Verizon Online – Your Guide to Broadband Living and Content [PDF, 8MB] and accused the ISPs of "attempting to protect privacy of theft."

Verizon lawyer William Barr pointed out that Boxer had got her knickers in a twist, and accused her of taking the quote out of context. ®

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