The recording industry has been dealt a big setback in its effort to track down people who distribute pirated music online.
A federal appeals court has rejected industry efforts to force Internet providers to identify suspected abusers.
The decision by the three-judge panel from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia overturns a trial judge's ruling. The judge had approved use of subpoenas to require Verizon to turn over names and addresses for at least four Internet subscribers.
Since then Verizon has identified dozens of its other subscribers to music industry lawyers.
The Recording Industry of America had claimed that Verizon was responsible for downloaded music. The appeals court rejected that argument, saying it "borders upon the silly."