Pacific Bell Internet Services jumped into the fray over music downloading late Wednesday, filing a federal lawsuit against the recording industry and questioning the constitutionality of the industry's effort to track down online music sharers.
PBIS, the California Internet service provider of San Antonio-based SBC Communications Inc., alleges that many of the subpoenas served against it by the Recording Industry Assn. of America were filed improperly.
The RIAA has filed at least 871 subpoenas in U.S. District Court in Washington this month, demanding information from universities and Internet service providers about users of the online file-sharing network Kazaa.
PBIS claims that 154 subpoenas seeking file sharers' e-mail addresses were issued from the wrong jurisdictions. PBIS said the RIAA's demand for information on multiple file sharers could not be grouped under one subpoena.
In the suit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, PBIS maintains that it acts only as a "passive conduit" for the activity of its subscribers and "does not initiate or direct the transmission of those files and has no control over their content or destination."
PBIS is seeking a declaration that the subpoenas are overly broad in scope and should have been issued by a California district court.
In response, the RIAA called the suit "procedural gamesmanship" and said Internet service providers must identify online copyright violators.