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A moral analysis of the ‘RIAA v. Verizon’ case

Richard A. Spinello (Carroll School of Management, Boston College, Chestnut Hill, MA, USA)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 30 November 2004



The RIAA v. Verizon case offers an opportunity to analyze the scope of an Internet service provider’s responsibility to help deter copyright infringement. In this case, the RIAA served Verizon with a subpoena requesting the identity of two users who were making available copyrighted recordings for downloading on peer‐to‐peer networks. The main axis of discussion is whether or not Verizon has a moral obligation to reveal the names of these individuals. Should Verizon cooperate with the RIAA or should it seek to shield the identity of these users in order to protect their anonymity and privacy? A secondary theme concerns Verizon’s prospective responsibility to curtail infringement. We will argue that Verizon and other ISPs have a limited obligation to assist copyright holders by disclosing the identity of infringers, but we contend that any prospective responsibility is constrained by law and technological capability.



Spinello, R.A. (2004), "A moral analysis of the ‘RIAA v. Verizon’ case", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 2 No. 4, pp. 203-215.



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Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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