Verizon must turn over customer information

The US Court of Appeals in Washington has denied Verizon's request to protect the identities of two customers accused of distributing copyright material over peer-to-peer networks. The big issue isn't so much that Verizon wants its customers to be able to freely trade copyrighted materials with anonymity, but more a clause in the DMCA that gives copyright holders the freedom to subpoena customer information without a judge's approval. That clause, critics say, gives copyright holders too much power and makes it too easy for them to target individuals.

To me, the argument that the DMCA makes it "too easy" for copyright holders to go after individuals doesn't cut it. If it's already easy to illegally distribute copyrighted material, why must we make it difficult for copyright holders to protect their works? Don't get me wrong; I'm not a fan of granting subpoenas without evidence of illegal file sharing. However, given the ease with which files shared over P2P networks can be traced back to individual IPs, it should be easy for copyright owners to gather compelling evidence of illegal sharing. If such evidence is easy to gather and verify, do we really need to bother judges? I have to think that there's a better way to grant subpoenas that requires copyright holders to prove illegal activity, but doesn't waste the time of judges that really should have more important matters to consider.

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