It basically says that due to a decision by the US Court of Appeals in D.C., ISPs are no longer required to answer subpoenas issued by or on behalf of the RIAA or under the powers of the DMCA.
Full text of the company message is as follows:
MUSIC FILE SHARING, COPYRIGHT PROTECTION &
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and its music rights holding members have been engaged in an effort to stop the unauthorized sharing, uploading and downloading of copyrighted material via peer-to-peer services on the Internet.
Using the subpoena provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 ("DMCA"), RIAA obtained subpoenas served on Internet service providers (ISPs) to obtain the identity of customers allegedly engaged in unauthorized uploading or downloading of music, as well as bringing copyright infringement lawsuits against some of these individuals.
On Friday, December 19, 2003, a decision by the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia stated that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act does not give RIAA authority to subpoena ISPs to identify suspected copyright infringers. The decision was based on the requirement in the statute that one must identify the person whose records are being sought in order to subpoena them from an ISP. Since RIAA was seeking information to identify the ISP customer, they could not meet the law’s requirement. Effectively, this appears to say that RIAA cannot use the DMCA as a tool in finding copyright infringers and cannot seek information from ISPs. A copy of this decision can be found at http://pacer.cadc.uscourts.gov/docs/common/opinions/200312/03-7015a.pdf
Does Cox provide contact information on suspected copyright infringers (illegal downloaders) to RIAA?
Based on a decision by the Appeals Court from the US District Court for the District of Columbia on December 19, 2003, Cox will not answer DMCA subpoenas for customer-identifying information to RIAA or other copyright-holders seeking to identify customers who may be downloading or sharing copyrighted materials. Should other, lawful means be used to seek information concerning customers, we will abide by lawful process, but reserve the right to challenge the legality of efforts that might unlawfully affect our customer’s privacy.
Has Cox provided contact information on suspected copyright infringers (illegal downloaders) to RIAA previously?
Yes, until the December 19, 2003 decision by the US District Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, Cox complied with subpoenas that had been issued to turn over the contact information for customers suspected of illegal file sharing of copyrighted material to RIAA or other copyright holder. Upon the December 19th decision by the Appeal Court, Cox immediately suspended its response to these subpoenas. Cox presently has a number of such subpoenas that remain unanswered.
Will you seek the return of information that was previously provided?
We are currently evaluating this question and prefer not to comment on this or other legal strategies.
What is copyright infringement within the meaning of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 ("DMCA")?
Under the DMCA, the unauthorized sharing, uploading or downloading of music as well as other copyrighted works via the Internet can constitute a form of copyright infringement.
What is the notice process under the DMCA?
Section 512 of the DMCA sets forth the responsibilities of ISPs in situations when a copyright holder claims a customer of an ISP is infringing their copyright. Specifically, the DMCA establishes a process to allow the copyright holder to notify the ISP of the alleged infringement. Upon receipt of valid notice, the ISP must attempt to notify its customer of the accusation so that the customer may either “take down” the infringing material or respond by challenging the accusation. If a repeated infringer fails to take down the allegedly infringing material and does not challenge the accusation, the ISP may terminate the customer’s account or take down the infringing content. This process was not affected by the DC Circuit’s decision.