What to do before the RIAA knocks

Thursday, 9 October 2003, 2:19 PM EST

The Recording Industry Association of America is taking dramatic steps to protect its copyrights against free file sharing, and it hasn't ruled out serving subpoenas on companies and universities that offer E-mail and Internet access to employees and students if it suspects that they use those systems to pirate material. So what do you do if worse comes to worst and the RIAA knocks?

Check your privacy policies. What do you say is done with data collected from users at your sites? What do they say you do with the data? Do you have a legal-process exception, and does the exception state that you comply with court orders? Have your privacy lawyers review the language. Are you subject to confidentiality agreements that might be affected by a demand for user information?

Call your data-management contractor. What protections do you have if it's served with a subpoena? Review the contract, and make sure it provides for legal-process exceptions and for sufficient advance notice to you if it's served before your contractor complies.

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