The U.S. Supreme Court today (Oct. 12) refused to consider the RIAA's argument that Verizon Internet Services should disclose names of its users who share unauthorized music files, without formal cour

The U.S. Supreme Court today (Oct. 12) refused 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 Internet service providers with “information” subpoenas in 2002, seeking the identities of subscribers the RIAA suspected of sharing unauthorized music files. [omitted ]Verizon refused to identify two subscribers, one of whom illegally shared more than 800 music files available over the Internet, and challenged the RIAA in court.

The D.C. District Court ordered Verizon to disclose the users' identities, and Verizon appealed. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Verizon, holding that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act did not authorize disclosure of the users' identities because the ISP was a "mere conduit" for P2P communications -- it didn't store copyrighted material.

The appellate decision and the Supreme Court’s action today effectively prevent record labels from obtaining the names of users who share P2P files before filing lawsuits against them as anonymous “John Doe” defendants in the D.C. District.