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If you are an Internet Service Provider, the following information is critical for you:


The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) provides limitations on service provider liability with respect to information residing, at direction of a user, on a system or network that the service provider controls or operates, if the service provider has designated an agent for notification of claimed infringement by providing contact information to the Copyright Office and through the service providerís publicly accessible website.


You should be aware that, under a December 19, 2003, ruling by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, unanimously ruled that the subpoenas processes in use by the music industry were illegal.  This court case means that the music industry cannot continue to use subpoenas stamped by the clerk of the court, but rather that the Recording Industry Association of American must file "John Does" lawsuits that require the oversight of a judge or magistrate.


If you have not already registered a designated agent with the library of Congress, you should do so immediately.  Information on the process and the registration form is available here.


If you have received a subpoena, letter or other notification regarding copyright infringement by one of your subscribers, the following steps are suggested:


  1. Contact an attorney for legal assistance.  If you do not have an attorney familiar with copyright laws as they relate to the Internet, there is a list of attorneys on this site.  You may also refer you customers to this list of attorneys to assist in their defenses.

  1. Report any suspicious subpoenas you have received to the database being compiled by ChillingEffects.Org.  Also, subpoenas from persons you suspect legitimate copyright holders, or who have intentions other than the enforcement of a copyright should be reported to the database.  Suspicious subpoenas include those that are not accompanied by a court order; those issued under section 512(h) of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act; subpoenas that ask for more information than the subscriber's name and address; or subpoenas that do not permit you sufficient time to notify your subscribers that a subpoena has been issued.

  1. Be aware of court rulings on this issue.  In October of 2004, the RIAA asked a Pennsylvania district court to issue subpoenas to ISPs for the names and addresses of people they suspect of infringement.  The court ruled that the ISPs must first send their customers detailed notices about the subpoenas, including information about how the accused suspects can contest the subpoenas.  While this ruling applies only to subpoenas filed in Pennsylvania, it is likely to become a precedent for other cases before the courts in other locations.

  1. Copyright holders cannot subpoena information that is not on the ISP's server or in the logs. For information on user privacy for ISPs and accidental ISPs see the EFF page on ISP Privacy.

If you have questions regarding your rights and obligations or need help in locating resources, contact the US Internet Industry Association.



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