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DMCA Subpoena Provision Still Endangers Privacy

DEEPLINKS BLOG
March 9, 2006

News.com reports that American Airlines has subpoenaed Google and YouTube, demanding the name of someone who posted an airline training video online. This is yet another abuse of DMCA 512(h), which allows copyright holders to unmask an Internet user's identity based on a mere allegation of infringement without any due process.

You might recall that EFF helped Verizon limit the scope of this dangerous statute when the RIAA attempted to attain the identities of P2P file sharing users. The D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that the provision doesn't apply to content residing on individuals' own computers.

But it still does apply to content on an online service provider's computer. So when you upload content to your website or blog, your privacy is still at risk. Someone could claim copyright infringement, and, without the notice, time, and information necessary to respond, you won't be able to protect your anonymity.

Until the law is changed to reinstate traditional due process protections, online service providers should voluntarily notify users to the best of their ability. Google regularly gives notice and apparently will do so in this case, while YouTube has already turned over the user's name, according to the News.com article. Internet users can also take privacy protection into their own hands by using tools like Tor.

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