Supremes sidestep RIAA's John Doe challenge

But they'll be back

The Recording Industry Ass. of America has failed to get the Supreme Court to review its P2P challenge against Verizon. In January, a District Court ruled that copyright holders couldn't use John Doe subpoenas to obtain the details of alleged infringers from ISPs. Congress had already acknowledged that ISPs can't police every infringing action. Verizon successfully argued that it couldn't "take down" infringing material on P2P networks without, in effect, closing down the entre network.

"The plight of copyright holders must be addressed in the first instance by the Congress, the Court ruled back in January, "... only the Congress has the constitutional authority and the institutional ability to accommodate fully the varied permutations of competing interests that are inevitably implicated by such new technology."

The RIAA appealed, and now the Supreme Court has declined to intervene. A victory then, for P2P? Not so fast. With so many sympathetic representatives in both houses, and a well-honed lobbying machine on the Hill, the Supremes may simply be pointing the RIAA to a cheaper and more reliable approach to preventing copyright infringement. It's cheaper to buy a politician, than it is to buy a judge.

But it's not the last the Supreme Court will see of the RIAA. Together with the MPAA, the lobby group will appeal the recent rulings that absolve software suppliers of responsibility for infringement on P2P networks. ®

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