Judge orders Internet providers to help trace online pirates

Published: Wednesday, January 22, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 9:37 p.m.
WASHINGTON - Internet providers must abide by music industry requests to track down computer users who illegally download music, a federal judge ruled Tuesday in a case that could dramatically increase online pirates' risk of being caught.
The decision by U.S. District Judge John D. Bates upheld the recording industry's powers under a 1998 law to compel Verizon Communications Inc. to identify one of its Internet subscribers who was suspected of illegally trading music or movies online. The music industry knew only a numerical Internet address this person was using.
The ruling means that consumers using dozens of popular Internet file-sharing programs can more easily be identified and tracked down by entertainment companies trying to prevent the illegal trading of movies and music. For consumers, even those hiding behind Internet aliases, that could result in warning letters, civil lawsuits or criminal prosecution.

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