Senator Concerned About RIAA Subpoenas. 

08-04-03 antiGUY
At least one Senator isn’t standing idly by while the RIAA embarks on a legal blitzkrieg against online piracy.  Minnesota Republican Senator Norm Coleman has concerns over “shotgun” approach of the subpoenas issued by the RIAA and has requested copies of the over 900 subpoenas which were issued to alleged online copyright violators. 

"The industry has legitimate concerns about copyright infringement," Coleman said in a statement. "We are dealing with stealing recording artists' songs and the industry's profits. ... Yet, the industry seems to have adopted a 'shotgun' approach that could potentially cause injury and harm to innocent people who may have simply been victims of circumstance or [who don't know] the rules related to digital sharing of files."

The RIAA issued subpoenas to Internet Service Providers and universities to obtain the identities of individuals they suspect are illegally trading in copyrighted music online. According to the trade organization, they plan to file suit against individuals who distribute “substantial” amounts of copyrighted music online, according to a report from MTV.com. 

Violators could be liable for between $750 to $150,000 per song. 

Aside from copies of the subpoenas, Coleman has requested “a description of the standards the RIAA use to file an application for a subpoena as well as details of how the group is collecting evidence against alleged file swappers. Coleman said he would like to see proof that the RIAA is protecting privacy and shielding people from erroneous subpoenas,” says the MTV report. 

Coleman, who chairs the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, has asked that the material be delivered to him by August 14th. He became concerned over the RIAA tactics once he heard media reports that roommates of violators and even a grandparent got caught up in the RIAA’s legal web. 

"We will be pleased to respond to the senator's request for information," the RIAA said in a statement. "It will confirm that our actions are entirely consistent with the law as enacted by the U.S. Congress and interpreted by the courts. It will demonstrate that our enforcement program, one part of a multi-pronged strategy, is an appropriate and measured response to the very serious problem of blatant copyright infringement confronting the entire music community."

MTV also reports that the Senator isn’t the only one who is concerned over these latest legal actions taken by the RIAA. One internet service provider has filed suit against the recording industry trade organization over the subpoenas. 

MTV reports, “the country's largest provider of DSL Internet service, SBC Communications, filed suit against the RIAA in San Francisco's Federal District Court. ‘We think their misapplication of the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) subpoena powers in this case pose a serious threat to the privacy of our customers,’ said SBC spokesperson Larry Meyer, whose company has nearly 3 million DSL subscribers.

“More than 200 of SBC's customers have been targeted by the subpoenas so far, he said. The subpoenas request that SBC go through its records and give up the identities of the targeted swappers, who are identified only by their screen names or Internet addresses.”

The RIAA quickly issued a statement regarding the SBC suit, "It's unfortunate that they have chosen to litigate this, unlike every other ISP which has complied with their obligations under the law. We had previously reached out to SBC to discuss this matter but had been rebuked. This procedural gambit will not ultimately change the underlying fact that when individuals engage in copyright infringement on the Internet, they are not anonymous and service providers must reveal who they are."

It should be interesting to see what action if any the Senate takes on this issue and how the court decides these cases. 

more on The RIAA .



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