Judge: RIAA can unmask file swappers

A federal judge has handed a preliminary victory to the recording industry by granting its request to unmask anonymous file swappers accused of copyright infringement.

U.S. District Judge Denny Chin ruled Monday that Cablevision, which provides broadband Internet access in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York, can be required to divulge the identities of its subscribers sued over copyright violations. Chin, in Manhattan, said that the implicit guarantee of anonymity in the Bill of Rights is an insufficient shield in this case: "Such a person's identity is not protected from disclosure by the First Amendment."

Lawyers following the case said it is significant because Chin's ruling is the most detailed so far in any of the many "John Doe" lawsuits brought by the Recording Industry Association of America. Chin said that while file swapping "qualifies as speech" to some degree, the RIAA's member companies had overcome the hurdle posed by the First Amendment and could compel "disclosure of the Doe defendants' identities."

News source: C|Net News.com

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