New month, new round of RIAA lawsuits


Electoral Member
Jun 6, 2002
New Round of RIAA Lawsuits
March 23, 2004
Thomas Mennecke

Matching their fortitude of January's 500+ lawsuits, the RIAA strikes again with an astounding 532 lawsuits against alledged music pirates. Unlike the initial round of lawsuits launched in mid 2003, these lawsuits are considered "John Doe" lawsuits.

Back in June 2003, the RIAA was able to use the mighty DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) to subpoena an ISP to divulge the personal information of a subscriber. While most ISPs folded like a cheap suitcase under the pressure, a few held on and fought, such as the communications giant Verizon.

Eventually, the RIAA lost the right to force ISPs to divulge personal information when the US Court of Appeals ruled against the RIAA. Since that time the RIAA has been forced to use "John Doe" lawsuits against alleged file-traders.

Basically, this is the way a "John Doe" lawsuit works. The RIAA files the lawsuit, however instead of an actual name, they use an IP address. Through a laborious legal process the RIAA will be able subpoena an ISP to divulge suspected music pirates personal information. According to the RIAA, their "John Doe" campaign is proceeding successfully.

"The first round of ''John Doe'' litigations filed in January is proceeding along. All four courts in that round have granted the record companies’ preliminary request to issue subpoenas to Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to learn the identity of illegal file sharers. The record companies plan to send letters to identified individuals offering to settle with them before litigation continues any further. If an illegal file sharer rejects the settlement overture, the record companies will proceed with litigation against that individual."

This time around, the RIAA is concentrating more heavily on college campuses, as 89 individuals are targeted.

"A total of 532 illegal file sharers were included in today’s action, including 89 individuals who were using university networks to illegally distribute copyrighted sound recordings on peer-to-peer services. The university networks used for this illegal activity include schools in Arizona, California, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Washington, D.C., and Wisconsin. Lawsuits against 443 illegal file sharers using commercial ISPs were brought in California, Colorado, Missouri, Texas and Virginia. Like the lawsuits filed earlier this year, the RIAA is again utilizing the "John Doe" litigation process – which is used to sue defendants whose names are not known."