03 October 2005

Man Bites Do... err... Woman Sues RIAA

It does have a sort of "man bites dog" quality about it. In Oregon, a woman wrongfully accused and sued by the Recording Industry Association of America for allegedly downloading copyright material belonging to its members has turned around and filed a RICO (anti-racketeering) suit against her accusor. Among the woman's claims against the cartel,
Settlement Support Center [RIAA's collection agency] also falsely claimed that Ms. Andersen had “been viewed” by MediaSentry [RIAA's agency that hacks into computers to search for copyright material, whether it was legally obtained or not] downloading “gangster rap” music at 4:24 a.m. Settlement Support Center also falsely claimed that Ms. Andersen had used the login name “gotenkito@kazaa.com.” Ms. Andersen does not like “gangster rap,” does not recognize the name “gotenkito,” is not awake at 4:24 a.m. and has never downloaded music...

As fully set forth above, the record companies hired MediaSentry to break into private computers to spy, view files, remove information, and copy images. The record companies received and transmitted the information and images to Settlement Support Center. As the record companies’ agent, Settlement Support Center then falsely claimed that the stolen information and images showed Ms. Andersen’s downloading and distributing over 1,000 audio files. The record companies falsely claimed that Ms. Anderson owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to coerce and extort payment from her.
Good for Ms. Andersen! The RIAA lawsuits sure seem like extortion on a massive scale to me, aided and abetted by certain representatives in the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. justice system, such as it is. Here in Canada, at least, we have a Supreme Court with a clue, that did not allow CRIA, the RIAA's Canadian cousin, to file the "John Doe" lawsuits that enable this sort of immoral, not to mention marginally-if-at-all legal activity. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people like Ms. Anderson who are coerced into settling bogus lawsuits that amount to thousands millions of dollars because fighting the RIAA in court would cost more, making the RIAA's racket nothing more than a far less interesting version of The Sopranos. Perhaps more counter-suits like this one will finally put an end to this nonsense. What would be even more effective would be industry cartels and large corporations losing their sense of entitlement to obsolescent business models that must change in the face of societal, cultural and technological change, as well as environmental realities.
(Seen at Slashdot)
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