Beginning in 2003 and continuing into the present, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has commenced lawsuits against individuals thought to have violated provisions in the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Sometimes the RIAA has won the legal battles, sometimes not.
In September 2003, in a case of mistaken identity, the RIAA withdrew its lawsuit against a sculptor, aged 66, who claimed she and her husband never downloaded song-sharing software or used it numerous times—in alleged violation of the DMCA. Sarah Seabury Ward of Massachusetts said that she and her husband used their computer only to email their children and grandchildren. They did not at any time download songs illegally.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) assisted the woman in fighting her case. The attorney handling the case argued that the elderly couple used a Macintosh computer—on which the KaZaA file-sharing software they were allegedly using cannot be run. Ward was one of 261 individuals sued by the RIAA for illegal Internet file sharing. The accused illegally shared more than 2,000 music titles, argued the RIAA. The RIAA eventually withdrew their case against Ward, labeling the withdrawal a good-faith gesture. An RIAA spokesperson said that they still believed the computer address provided by Comcast Corporation, Ward’s Internet Service Provider, was correct.
An attorney with the EFF said that more cases like Ward’s will probably surface, given the difficulties of identifying IP addresses for particular subscribers. Internet Service Providers such as Comcast do not have enough IP addresses for each subscriber, so they do not assign addresses to users permanently. Instead, providers assign IP addresses dynamically when a user connects to the service. It is not easy to ascertain which addresses are used by which specific account.
See Also: Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA); Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF); Electronic Mail or Email; Internet Service Provider (ISP); IP Address; Online File Sharing; Peer-to-Peer (P2P).
Mercury News. Music industry drops suit against sculptor accused of downloading rap. [Online, September 24, 2003.] http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/ mercurynews/business/6850484.htm?1c.