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Charter Cable Sues To Block Music Inquiry

Charter Communications Inc. filed a suit on Friday seeking to block the recording industry from obtaining the identities of Charter customers who allegedly shared copyrighted music over the Internet.

Charter filed papers in U.S. District Court in St. Louis in a bid to quash subpoenas that the Recording Industry Association of America issued seeking the identities of about 150 Charter customers.

“We are the only major cable company that has not as yet provided the RIAA a single datum of information,” said Tom Hearity, vice president and associate general counsel for Charter, which is based in Town and Country.

The recording association has subpoenaed information as part of its effort to crack down on illegal distribution of copyrighted music. So far, the group has filed suits against 261 people, none of them in the St. Louis area.

Charter’s move Friday suggested that Charter had undergone a change of heart on the issue. On Sept. 23, after the association issued its first subpoenas to Charter in St. Louis, a Charter spokesman said the company would “fully cooperate.”

However, Hearity said that statement meant only that the company would “cooperate in the sense that we’re going to operate within the legal process.”

Representatives at the association’s headquarters in Washington could not be reached.

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