Business News Digital Legal

RIAA subpoenas YouTube for Chris Brown leaker’s identity

By | Published on Tuesday 1 April 2014


The Recording Industry Association Of America recently secured a subpoena from a federal court in California ordering YouTube to reveal the IP address, email and any other contact info available about a user who uploaded two new unreleased Chris Brown tracks to the video platform earlier this year.

According to Torrentfreak, the RIAA said in its application for the court order: “The purpose for which this subpoena is sought is to obtain the identity or identities of the individual or individuals assigned to this URL. This information will only be used for the purposes of protecting the rights granted to our members, the sound recording copyright owners, under [the Digital Millennium Copyright Act]”.

The subpoena presumably means that the RIAA is considering direct action against the YouTube user who uploaded the Chris Brown tracks, even though a takedown notice issued to the Google-owned video platform saw the content quickly removed from the site.

It’s not known how often the RIAA pursues such action, though in the main when content is uploaded to a site like YouTube without licence, a rights owner will use the upload service’s takedown system to get the files removed, but won’t then launch action against whoever uploaded the file in the first place. Even though they were actually responsible for the copyright infringement that took place, and aren’t protected by the DMCA in the way the YouTube-type platform is.

Obviously the record industry, and especially the RIAA, has tried going after individual non-commercial infringers before with the rampant sue-the-fans programme of the last decade, though that approach to anti-piracy achieved little other than getting the record industry a mountain of bad press.

Though, while such sue-the-fan litigation has generally fallen out of favour, the labels have been more severe in protecting their copyrights where pre-release content is leaked onto file-sharing platforms, and that approach is possibly now being extended to video-sharing sites. That said, back in February Brown was accusing an ex-manager of being behind leaks of his music – something she publicly denied, challenging him and his label to properly trace the source of the uploaded tracks – so this might just be a special case.