Boston University Claims Small Victory Against RIAA

A judge agrees that school could not accurately identify students' identities behind IP addresses.

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Boston University notched a minor victory against the Recording Industry Association of America when a federal judge quashed three RIAA subpoenas requesting the school hand over the identification of several accused music file-sharers.

Since 2003, the RIAA has sought the identities of alleged illegal file-sharers via IP address, compelling colleges to turn over student information. In this case, Boston University argued that it would be unable to determine the exact identities of those using a particular IP address. On November 24, Judge Nancy Gertner agreed, saying the university had "adequately demonstrated that it is not able to identify the alleged infringers with a reasonable degree of technical certainty." She wrote in her motion to quash, "The Court finds that compliance with the subpoena as to the IP addresses represented by these Defendants would expose innocent parties to intrusive discovery."

A handful of universities have tried the same argument, but BU's case is one of the few times a judge has sided with the school.