The recording industry’s effort to curtail online piracy was dealt a significant blow today when a federal appeals court ruled that Internet service providers cannot be compelled to disclose the identities of customers suspected of illegally sharing copyrighted songs.
Well, they really can be compelled but it must now be with full due process:
Using the DMCA subpoenas, the RIAA was able to obtain the names of suspected file sharers from ISPs without filing lawsuit and without getting a judge’s approval. Without that subpoena power, the RIAA would have to file suit against unnamed file-swappers in order to obtain their identities.
The complete opinion is here (PDF) and provides some entertaining reading as the court hammers the RIAA. On the other hand, the court did not address constitutional issues raised by Verizon thus leaving the door open for congress to mess things up again.