Monday, December 29, 2003

Some good news

As reported by the Electronic Frontier Foundation on December 19 and TalkLeft on the 20th, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has struck a blow for privacy on the internet.

Verizon Communications had been issued a subpoena, demanding it divulge the name and address of a customer suspected of using a peer-to-peer network to swap commercial music files. In such networks, the music files are stored on individual home computers, not at any central location, and transmitted directly to other users. That means, if you will, the data for the music in question passed through Verizon but was never stored there.

Verizon sought to have the subpoena quashed. It lost in a lower court but has now prevailed in the Appeals Court, which ruled Verizon was "merely a conduit."

This is good news. By that I do not intend to justify large-scale theft of copyrighted materials (as a failed artist and former pro photographer I know how important copyright protection can be to a creator of a work) but I do believe that placing limits on how much of our personal information can be spread around for what reason is a positive development. Our concern for our personal privacy is still too limited, but it is there and by some accounts - this being one - is growing.

TalkLeft also has a link to EFF's posting of the full court opinion in .pdf format.

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