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ACLU to the Rescue?

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The ACLU has begun to throw its weight around in the key file sharing cases. We mentioned Friday that the ACLU filed an amicus brief in conjunction with the library organizations in the Grokster case in support of the file sharing systems – now it is supporting Boston College in its efforts to protect the identity of a student subpoenaed by the RIAA:

    In court papers that were filed on Friday and will be announced today, the group said that Boston College should not be forced to reveal the identity of the student.

    The civil liberties group argues that the constitutional rights of its client, referred to as Jane Doe, would be violated if her college, which is also her Internet service provider, were forced to reveal her name. The industry subpoena “seeks to strip Jane Doe of her fundamental right to anonymity,” according to the group’s court filings.

    The industry subpoena is one of many recently filed under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a law that gives copyright holders broad powers to get the names of suspected infringers from Internet service providers.

    But the civil liberties suit claims that the subpoenas, which can be issued with little judicial oversight or involvement, go beyond even what the law allows. The group also claims that the law itself is unconstitutional, because it does not provide for the judicial review of requests or notification of the target of the investigation. [NY Times]

Amen and right on. The most efficient way to shut down this campaign of ruination and to get the dreaded DMCA modified back to constitutionality is for the individuals to fight and not settle – but who can afford this on their own? Another organization is aiding this effort as well:

    Also today, a group that opposes the suits, Downhill Battle, is expected to announce the creation of a legal defense fund for those caught up in the file-trading suits. “If we make noise for all those who’ve been sued and give the people who want to fight in court the resources to do so, we can make these lawsuits fail,” the group said on its Web site,

More from the site:

    Desperate to end filesharing, the major record labels have singled out 261 people and are trying to make examples out of them. Without warning, families and individuals are being slammed with enormous lawsuits that they can’t possibly afford to defend themselves against.

    We’ve created this Fund so that everyone who thinks the RIAA lawsuits are callous and unwarranted can donate to support the people who are being sued. Rather than collecting donations centrally like a traditional defense fund, our system lets you give money directly to someone who is being sued. More about the contribution system.

    Some families want to fight the record companies in court– we can give them the means to defend themselves and to attack the legal basis of these lawsuits. Others just need a way out– we can relieve the financial burden of settling the suit and help them get on with their lives. Above all, if we rally around everyone who’s been sued, the record companies’ bullying will fail and we can stop these lawsuits.

Whether or not you are in favor of file sharing or not, this campaign of legal intimidation by the RIAA is unfair, grossly punitive, arbitrary, and unconstitutional – concerted collective action is the only way to stop it.

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About Eric Olsen