Died - Detection
- RIAA vs.
NetCoalition Requests Answers From RIAA
Washington, DC, August 11, 2003 -- NetCoalition, a leading public policy alliance
of Internet companies, today formally requested that the Recording Industry Association
of America provide information regarding its new subpoena campaign against alleged
Internet file sharers. The RIAA has announced plans to file thousands of lawsuits
against people they suspect may have illegally downloaded copyrighted works. In
preparation for these suits, the RIAA has already filed close to 1,000 subpoenas
seeking the identity of alleged copyright violators.
In a letter dated August 11, 2003 addressed to RIAA president Cary Sherman, NetCoalition
Executive Director Kevin McGuiness expressed the coalition's support for strong
copyright protection, but questioned the validity of RIAA's legal strategy. "We
strongly support the right of copyright owners to protect their works, but there
is a real potential for abuse with what the RIAA is doing," McGuiness said. "Handling
a single subpoena request is costly for Internet companies. They are not equipped,
nor should they be, to assess the legality or validity of these claims, especially
when the privacy rights of their subscribers are at risk," he continued. "This
initiative could force providers to raise the price of Internet access simply
to fund the RIAA's legal fishing expedition."
The letter goes on to outline its concerns surrounding the critical precedent-setting
nature of the RIAA campaign. Others are already beginning to copy the strategy,
with no guarantee of the legitimacy or accuracy of the claims, setting the stage
for a virtual deluge of subpoenas from anyone and everyone claiming copyright
infringement. The coalition believes some of these concerns could be addressed
if the RIAA were willing to share the substance and intent of the campaign, much
of which remains a mystery, and outlined eighteen basic questions that seek to
provide ISPs with information about the subpoena campaign.
"Very little is known or understood about this initiative, how individuals are
being targeted, what's being done with the information, who pays for compliance,
or how this information is protected," McGuiness said. "ISPs and their subscribers,
whose privacy they are committed and contracted to protect, deserve to know the
truth about what is happening to them." The letter points out there already have
been examples of mistakes in the RIAA's subpoena requests, and that there is no
judicial oversight for the subpoena demands.
NetCoalition concluded by expressing its willingness to work with the RIAA and
other interested parties to find an equitable balance among the rights of copyright
holders and the interests of Internet consumers and companies. Said McGuiness,
"there has to be a better answer than litigation."