10 September 2008

The latest P2P case in the US.

I have come across an interesting US P2P case namely UMG Recordings Inc. v. Doe (N.D.Cal. September 4, 2008).

The facts of the case are fairly simple. The Plaintiffs discovered the IP address of the Defendant (a John Doe) who engaged in illegal file sharing and sued the latter for copyright infringement. As the Defendant was only known by his/her IP address, the Plaintiffs sought a court order authorising them to issue a subpoena to the ISP of the Defendant. The order was granted subject to an important caveat.

In this case, the evidence pointed to the fact that the Defendant was in fact a student at the University of California. The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act at 20 U.S.C. § 1232g, provides that a college generally cannot disclose 'any personally identifiable information in education records other than directory information.' The only exception to this rule is when a college is answering a lawfully issued subpoena. However in such circumstances, the parents and students should be notified of the subpeonas in advance of compliance by the college.

The caveat of the court in this case was to require the return date of the subpeona to be calculated in such a manner as to allow the university to notify the Defendant and his parents.

This is a very interesting case concerning disclosure of the details of the infringing parties in P2P cases and CyberPanda is curious to know whether such afeguards are in place in the UK.

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