(Wired News) LOS ANGELES — Broadband service provider Charter Communications on Tuesday said it has sued the recording industry to block it from getting names of its customers for alleged song-swapping on the Internet. Charter filed the lawsuit last Friday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis after the Recording Industry Association of America issued subpoenas seeking identities of about 150 its customers.
“We consider our customer relationship to be our most important responsibility. We’ve exercised our legal right to protect the legitimate interests of our customers and our interests,” Maggie Bellville, chief operating officer of Charter Communications told Reuters.
The RIAA last month filed suits against 261 individuals for allegedly sharing copyright music without authorization. The association, which has pledged more lawsuits in its battle against online piracy, said the latest subpoenas complied with the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
Under the act, record companies and other copyright owners can present court orders to Internet providers to uncover names of users they suspect of distributing their material online.
“Charter’s filing is only procedural in nature and directly contradicts its past statement that it would ‘fully cooperate’ with the DMCA information subpoenas,” a spokesman for the RIAA said.
“The subpoenas we filed comply with the letter and spirit of the law and always have,” he said.
“None of this changes the underlying fact that when individuals engage in copyright infringement on the Internet, they are not anonymous, and service providers must reveal who they are,” he said.
Internet providers like Verizon Communications and SBC Communications have also gone to court to challenge the industry’s interpretation of the law, which they say violates due-process and free-speech rights and threatens privacy.