Two decades ago, when the RIAA tried to obtain the identities of Verizon customers via the convenient DMCA subpoena process, significant pushback led to defeat for the record labels.
The case made it clear that subpoenas obtained under section 512(h) of the DMCA only apply to ISPs that directly store, cache, or provide links to infringing material. An RIAA lawsuit against Charter failed for similar reasons.
In 2014 and after a considerable break, BMG and anti-piracy partner Rightscorp attempted to unmask 30,000 CBeyond subscribers using the same DMCA subpoena process. That also ended in disappointment but somehow, seven years later on the same legal basis, DMCA subpoena applications suddenly began producing results.
Cautiously Building Momentum
After testing the water in 2019, during 2022 and early 2023, companies including Voltage Pictures, Millennium Funding, and Capstone Studios obtained DMCA subpoenas targeting customers of CenturyLink (now Lumen). After a relatively gentle…