RIAA must prove probable cause in suit against illegal downloaders

A federal judge ordered the recording industry to prove it had probable cause when it issued a subpoena seeking the names of anonymous music downloaders at GW.

The decision comes days after an anonymous student – targeted in the subpoena – filed a motion to stop it from being carried out. Dozens of record companies, represented by the Recording Industry Associates of America, are trying to sue 19 GW students for downloading music illegally.

The student attempting to block the subpoena stated in court documents that the RIAA has no basis to seek names from the University because the University is not the cable provider.

The motion also states that the 19 anonymous students should not be lumped together in the suit – as they have no links to one another. It adds that the RIAA improperly used the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as a basis for its legal action.

“This is the first time I’ve seen an order to show cause to the industry,” said Steve Robertson, the defendant’s attorney. “The judge appears to have digested our brief and she feels it has enough merit to warrant an order to show cause.”

He added that his client, referred to in the case as Doe #3, is determined to beat the RIAA.

“The industry has already clubbed 500 innocent seals on the head, and they think they can club this one,” Robertson said. “But Doe #3 said, ‘I won’t lay here and let you hit me on the head with a blunt instrument.'”

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