Recording Industry Orders Verizon Subscribers To Stop File-Sharing

RIAA issues cease-and-desist letters to five people accused of illegally trading copyrighted music.

The recording industry has issued cease-and-desist letters to five people accused of illegally trading copyrighted music, after it finally knew what to write on the envelope.

Sent Friday, the letters demand that the file-sharers, four of whom subscribe to Verizon Internet Services and one to Earthlink Inc., immediately stop allowing their song libraries to be shared freely, according to a spokesperson for copyright holders the Recording Industry Association of America. The RIAA obtained the names of the four Verizon subscribers days after a federal court ordered the Internet service provider to surrender them earlier this month (see "Verizon Surrenders Names of Suspected Song Pirates To RIAA").

The identity of the Earthlink customer was revealed after Verizon's appeal of Judge John Bates' decision was denied last week.

The cease-and-desist letters are the culmination of a lengthy legal battle that began last year (see "Can Your ISP Rat You Out For File-Sharing? A Judge To Decide"). After numerous court hearings, wherein Verizon objected to the RIAA's subpoena to surrender the names on the grounds that identifying its subscribers would violate their First Amendment rights, the company's last-ditch effort to postpone fulfilling the court order was denied June 11.

The basis for the court ruling is rooted in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a provision of which permits copyright holders to subpoena the names of those suspected of infringement from ISPs without a judge's signature.

Verizon is among several critics of the provision, which has the potential to violate a person's right to privacy. As it had previously stated, the company will continue its appeal in court on September 16.

For complete digital music coverage, check out the Digital Music Reports.