September 30, 2003

Declan on the ACLU’s move [6:27 pm]

ACLU takes aim at record labels — and outlines some of the new arguments being tried

In a move that could complicate the RIAA’s pursuit of peer-to-peer pirates, the American Civil Liberties Union said Monday it had filed court documents accusing the trade association of illegally using thousands of subpoenas to unmask alleged copyright infringers.

The recording industry’s subpoenas, filed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), violated due process and constitutional rights shielding Internet users’ anonymity, the ACLU claims.

[...] “The consequences from this lack of procedural protections are far from trivial,” the ACLU said in court papers. “In addition to being deprived of one’s constitutional rights, there is nothing to stop a vindictive business or individual from claiming copyright to acquire the identity of critics.”

David Plotkin, a Boston attorney who filed the motion alongside the ACLU, said in e-mail that “the statute only allows for a subpoena when the copyrighted material at issue is stored on the ISP’s system, but not, as in the case of Boston College and almost all other ISPs, when the material is stored on internet user’s personal computer.”

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