Judge Orders Internet Provider To Identify File Trader

Verizon must give RIAA name user who swapped more than 600 songs in a day.

If the recording industry is nipping at your heals, you can run, but you can't hide ... not even behind your ISP.

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that Internet service provider Verizon Communications must fork over the name of a suspected Kazaa-using, peer-to-peer pirate believed to have illegally shared more than 600 music files in a day, according to a court spokesperson. The decision may set a precedent that would allow recording industry investigators to obtain, without having to go to court, the names of those suspected of illegally using peer-to-peer services.

"We appreciate the court's decision, which validates our interpretation of the law," said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America. "The illegal distribution of music on the Internet is a serious issue for musicians, songwriters and other copyright owners, and the record companies have made great strides in addressing this problem by educating consumers and providing them with legitimate alternatives. Now that the court has ordered Verizon to live up to its obligation under the law, we look forward to [contacting] the account holder whose identity we were seeking so we can let them know that what they are doing is illegal."

The decision is in line with an RIAA subpoena brought against Verizon on July 24, which provided the user's specific Internet Protocol address, the key to determining the exact computer where infringement occurred.

Two weeks later, Verizon refused to comply, contesting that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 compels ISPs to be forthcoming with information only if the infringing material resided on or was controlled by the network's server. The copyrighted songs in this case resided on the user's hard drive.

Judge John D. Bates disagreed with Verizon's rationale and ordered the company to surrender the name "promptly," without giving a specific deadline.

Three days before Judge Bates' decision, RIAA chairman and CEO Hilary Rosen, in her keynote speech at the Midem music conference in France, said the industry has set its sights on ISPs.

"We will hold ISPs more responsible," Rosen said. "Let's face it. They know there's a lot of demand for broadband simply because of the availability [of file sharing]."

Rosen then suggested a scenario in which ISPs would assist the industry in recouping its losses by handing over a portion of fees assessed to their customers who use file-swapping services.