Verizon Turns Over Names in Piracy Case
By BRIAN BERGSTEIN
The Associated Press
Friday, June 6, 2003; 2:44 PM
NEW YORK - Verizon Communications Inc. reluctantly surrendered to the music industry on Thursday the names of four Internet subscribers suspected of
illegally offering free song downloads, but vowed to keep fighting the law that forced its hand.
Verizon was compelled to give up the names Wednesday by the U.S. Court of Appeals for Washington, D.C., which rejected the telecom giant's request
for a stay while it appeals a lower court decision won by the Recording Industry Association of America.
The RIAA has not decided what action to take against the four Verizon customers, said Matt Oppenheim, the group's senior vice president for business
and legal affairs.
Though it released the names, New York-based Verizon, the nation's biggest phone company, plans to continue the appeal.
The provision in the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act that the recording industry invoked in seeking the names is unconstitutional and greatly
exceeds traditional copyright and privacy laws, said Sarah Deutsch, Verizon's associate general counsel.
"We are committing to pursuing the case if necessary to the Supreme Court," she said Thursday. "The real harm here is to the consumer."
The recording industry has been unrelenting in fighting people and services who facilitate online song-sharing, calling the practice larceny.
In the Verizon case, the recording association relied on the DMCA law, which permits copyright holders to compel Internet providers to hand over the
names of suspected pirates. All they need is a subpoena from a federal court clerk's office. A judge's signature is not even required.