November 25, 2008, 04:49 PM ET
Judge Accepts University's Argument That It Cannot Accurately Identify Suspected Music Pirates
The big, long file-sharing case known as London-Sire v. Does 1-4 — for anonymous students at Boston University — isn’t going well for the music industry.
A federal judge in Massachusetts, Nancy Gertner, yesterday quashed the industry’s subpoenas seeking information about three of the many defendants in the case. The reason? “The university,” the court order said, “has adequately demonstrated that it is not able to identify the alleged infringers with a reasonable degree of technical certainty.”
Colleges and universities have taken different approaches to the recording industry’s anti-piracy campaign. But this victory — the judge’s response to the university’s “motion to quash” — has staggering implications, said an article on p2pnet.
“This suggests any university, or any other entity the Big 4 [record companies] are trying to terrorize and which can’t absolutely name a potential RIAA victim, may be able to file for Case Dismissed,” the article argues.
A post on the Slashdot blog offered another analysis: “There is an important lesson to be learned from this ruling: if the IT departments of the colleges and universities targeted by the RIAA would be honest, and explain to the Courts the problems with the identification and other technical issues, there is a good chance the subpoenas will be vacated. Certainly, there is now a judicial precedent for that principle.”
Does this mean that IP addresses and personal identities may no longer be considered legally synonymous? How far will this strategy go? —Sara Lipka