The proliferation of technology has led to a concurrent proliferation in organizations that operate within the technical world. Among the flurry of names are two large organizations: the company Verizon Wireless and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Before the advent of file sharing, these two companies had largely nothing to do with one another. But, Verizon's foray into the Internet world has created situations where the companies could cross paths.
Verizon is just one of the many cellular phone carriers in the United States. In addition to cell phone service, they also offer data plans so that users can access the Internet from those devices, from special mobile hot spots, and they also offer residential Internet service. If you use any of these methods to access the Internet, then Verizon will be acting as your Internet service provider (ISP) and has the records of your browsing histories.
The RIAA is a trade organization for music companies and recording labels. Individual companies and labels join the RIAA, and the organization in turn advocates for the interests of its members. These include lobbying for laws and regulations that are favorable to the music industry, and mustering the organization's collective resources to both mount, and defend against, legal actions concerning any of its member organizations. It is also the organization responsible for certifying when albums go Gold, Platinum, or Multi-Platinum.
One of the RIAA's highest-profile activities in recent years has been prosecuting copyright infringements on the intellectual property of its member organizations. These violations became a prolific problem after the Internet and file-sharing software allowed an individual user to copy a song, or entire album, then allow a number of users to download these music files for free instead of paying for them. In response, the RIAA launched several lawsuits against file-sharing sites and individual file sharers. These legal actions are ongoing.
Verizon and RIAA
Part of prosecuting an individual for sharing material under copyright is linking a file sharer's IP address to a name. In order to do this, the plaintiff, such as the RIAA, needs the ISP that was using that IP address in order to prove who was engaged in copyright violations. If you use Verizon Internet and the RIAA is looking to sue you for copyright violations, then it will go to Verizon to get your personal information (instead of just an IP address).
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