A University of Tennessee student is trying to revoke an RIAA license issued as part of the music industry’s war against campus file sharing. Doe #28 is taking a different stance than the other defendants, arguing that providing the information the RIAA is seeking would violate your right to privacy under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.
So far, Virgin Records America v do 1-33 has followed the same course as most of the other John Doe cases filed by the RIAA. The judge presiding over the case followed the example of the vast majority of other 25,000+ file sharing cases, approving the RIAA’s request for ex parte discovery (discovery made without the knowledge of the other party).
Under the judge’s order, Doe 1-33 have 15 days from the time they will come with the subpoena and the judge’s order to file a lawsuit, and until now Doe #28 appears to be the only defendant fighting the license, according to to the Knoxville news. Examination of the case history on the US Party/Case Index showed that three others have been dropped from the case, indicating that the RIAA has the information it needs to file new lawsuits against the named individuals.
Doe #28’s contention is that the information the RIAA is seeking—name, current and permanent addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and MAC addresses—is part of your educational records. Since neither Doe #28 nor her parents have waived that right, the information should not be released to the RIAA, argues the defendant’s motion to quash the lawsuit.
At most, plaintiffs should be provided with Doe’s name and current address, according to Doe #28. Providing further information would put the defendant and his parents in the position of being “subjected to unsolicited telephone calls and unsolicited mail, which is unconscionable.”
No one likes receiving unsolicited phone calls and unsolicited mail, but the desire to avoid letters and phone calls is not enough to invalidate a lawsuit. Invoking the Family Education Right and Privacy Act is unlikely to help either. Although schools must have written permission from students or their parents to release educational records, there are some exceptions, one of which is “to comply with a judicial order or has banned the document -filter.”
Although it appears that the RIAA may be able to obtain information from the University of Tennessee, its legal battle against school file sharing is not going smoothly. A federal judge in Virginia blocked the RIAA’s efforts to do so ex parte found in a case against seven William & Mary students, while another judge in New Mexico gave 16 University of New Mexico students the opportunity to respond to the John Doe lawsuit filed against them.