Appeals Court Tells RIAA to Back Off

In a surprising but wonderful setback for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a US Court of Appeals ruled late last week that record labels can't force ISPs such as Verizon Wireless to provide them with the names of users who illegally trade music on the Internet. The RIAA had used this subpoena capability to charge more than 220 individuals with theft, often reaching settlements of several thousand dollars each. The court described the RIAA's legal argument for the subpoena capability as "bordering on the silly" and backed Verizon Wireless's argument that the RIAA would have to sue it to obtain customer names.

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