The Recording Industry Assn. of America lost another court battle Jan. 4 in its attempt to issue subpoenas on Internet service providers to obtain personal information about subscribers alleged to be

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Recording Industry Assn. of America lost another court battle Jan. 4 in its attempt to issue subpoenas on Internet service providers to obtain personal information about subscribers alleged to be infringing copyrights over peer-to-peer networks.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri overturned a District Court ruling and sided with the ISP Charter Communications, saying the RIAA does not have the authority to issue such subpoenas under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

The court found that "the Internet providers' function was limited to acting as a conduit for the allegedly copyrighted material." The case was remanded to the lower court.

On Oct. 12, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a similar ruling by the D.C. Court of Appeals by refusing to consider the RIAA's argument that Verizon Internet Services should disclose names of its users who share unauthorized music files, without formal court proceedings.

The trade group began serving Verizon and other ISPs with "information" subpoenas in 2002. Verizon refused and challenged the RIAA in court.

An RIAA spokesman comments, "For the past year, we have successfully utilized the 'John Doe' litigation process to sue thousands of illegal file sharers. Our enforcement efforts won't miss a beat."