A federal judge in Boston has rejected an attempt by the recording industry to uncover the names of Boston College and MIT students suspected of online music piracy. U.S. District Judge Joseph L. Tauro said Friday that under federal rules, the subpoenas, which were issued in Washington, cannot be served in Massachusetts.
The two schools filed motions last month asking the judge to quash the subpoenas, which request names and other information for one Massachusetts Institute of Technology student and three BC students who allegedly obtained music using various screen names.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) issued a statement calling the ruling a “minor procedural issue.” The ruling “does not change an undeniable fact — when individuals distribute music illegally online, they are not anonymous and service providers must reveal who they are,” the RIAA said.
The subpoenas are part of the RIAA’s nationwide effort to crack down on copyright violators using music sharing software online to distribute songs.
This spring, a federal judge affirmed the constitutionality of a law allowing music companies to force Internet providers to release the names of suspected music pirates upon subpoena from any federal court clerk’s office. The ruling has been appealed.
An RIAA spokesperson declined to say whether the organization was planning to refile in Boston. Phone messages seeking comment from BC, MIT and the schools’ attorney were not immediately returned.
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