US Court Issues RIAA Subpoena to Target Infringing Cloudflare Clients

  • The RIAA goes after music files hosting websites and pre-release portals.
  • The organization has been issued a subpoena which was passed to Cloudflare, the host of the targeted websites.
  • Cloudflare is now obliged to comply with the requirement, but the next steps have not been determined.

The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has obtained a subpoena from a US federal court in Columbia, which will help them compel Cloudflare to share the identification information such as the name, IP, physical address, and email address of clients who are allegedly involved in copyright infringement activities. The RIAA is acting as a representative of its members in this case, helping them protect their rights over the use and distribution of copyrighted material. The association is typically not going after users but pirate websites, but since the people who operate these sites prefer to stay anonymous, the RIAA has to go the extra mile of obtaining a subpoena first.

The matter of DMCA subpoenas against hosting companies in the US is a fairly non-complicated one. If someone asks a court clerk for their signature to issue a subpoena, all that is required is a reasonable claim of copyright infringement. In this case, the RIAA has provided links to copyright infringing content on all websites that it’s targeting.

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Cloudflare is one of the network service providers that likes to keep its clients’ anonymity protected no matter what they’re doing or what they are accused of. However, when met with a subpoena, it is impossible for Cloudflare to keep their clients safe against copyright holders, as ‘the law is the law’. However, they do have the option to object the court’s decision, although this is probably not going to lead anywhere. In this case, they are asked to give away the identity of the operators of the RapGodFathers music releasing website, the Plus Premieres music download portal, and the DBREE and the AyeFiles hosting sites. Obviously, these sites are illicitly sharing music files, some of them leak non-released albums, and others allow users to freely copy and share pirated music.

It seems that this subpoena has shaken the ecosystem of these websites for good, as the operators have already removed all pirated content from their platforms. This is unlikely to save them on court, but maybe they’re after an evidence-related stunt? The RIAA has not clarified what they’re planning to do with the requested identification information, but we can assume that they will use it to drag the pirating website operators to court and ask for a hefty damage compensation on behalf of their members. Considering the volumes of pirated sound recordings that were distributed via the aforementioned platforms, and the popularity of their creators (Taylor Swift, Drake, Pink, Schoolboy Q, Big Sean), the requested compensation could reach astronomical figures.

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