RIAA, ISPs Debate Over Subpoena Process
Representatives from the music industry and Internet service providers yesterday (Sept. 17) debated the constitutionality of the Recording Industry Association of America's ...Representatives from the music industry and Internet service providers yesterday (Sept. 17) debated the constitutionality of the Recording Industry Association of America's subpoena process before the Senate Commerce Committee. The meeting was chaired by Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.), who earlier this week introduced a bill to take away the subpoena power from RIAA.
RIAA president Cary Sherman defended the industry's use of the subpoenas, saying Congress has already carefully crafted a balanced arrangement of rights between content owners and ISPs. Verizon executive VP and general counsel William Barr countered that the subpoenas, which are usually obtained from court clerks, violate due process.
The hearing provided another opportunity for the recording industry and ISP officials to lob verbal bombs at each other. Verizon's Barr characterized the RIAA's lawsuits as a "jihad against 12-year-old girls." Sherman, meanwhile, said that Verizon has been lax in copyright education efforts and points its customers to peer-to-peer file sharing services.
Brownback said he supports "strong protections of intellectual property," and said his bill would restore a balance of rights. Instead of using informational subpoenas to gain the identities of alleged infringers, RIAA would have to file "John Doe" lawsuits and present evidence of infringement to a judge.