The recording industry can’t force Internet providers to hand over names of subscribers illegally swapping music online, a federal appeals court ruled Friday. The decision is a big blow to record labels’ efforts to combat piracy via file sharing networks.
A three-judge panel overturned a trial judge’s ruling that the 1998 copyright law permits record labels to subpoena file-swappers identities. The ruling eliminates the Recording Industry Association of America’s most effective tool for finding and taking legal action against music pirates. The appeals court said the 1998 copyright law doesn’t cover file-sharing networks, which were created after the law was enacted.