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Judge denies motion to identify W&M Internet users

A Newport News federal district judge yesterday denied an ex parte discovery motion filed by music companies seeking to discover the names of seven Internet users at The College of William and Mary the companies allege violated copyright laws by Internet file-sharing.

The group of plaintiff music companies includes BMG Music, Elektra Entertainment, Arista Records, Sony BMG Music and Virgin Records.

In their lawsuit, Interscope Records v. Does 1-7, the music companies identify each defendant by the unique Internet Protocol address assigned to that defendant on the date and time of the alleged illegal activity. The complaint says the defendants violated copyright law by downloading and distributing copyrighted sound recordings owned by the companies, and by using a file-sharing network accessed via the same Internet service provider.

Judge Walter D. Kelley Jr. denied the music companies’ motion seeking immediate discovery of the identity of the seven John Doe users.

Users who can access the Internet through William and Mary may want to do their own investigation by checking out the ISP addresses listed as an exhibit to the complaint. In the alternative, potential defendants can check out the playlist for each user and see if they recognize their own tastes. It’s a pretty eclectic assortment – country, soft rock, oldies, a little Dr. Dre, and yes, even Celine Dion and M.C. Hammer.

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