Excellent article – Single Mother Gets RIAA Suit Dismissed, Sues Them Right Back

Found this article on business week, makes for an interesting read

Andersen got the piracy case against her dropped; now she’s going after the RIAA for conspiracy
by Heather Green

When Tanya Andersen opens the door to her modest apartment in suburban Portland, Ore., her Maltese-terrier mix, Tazz, runs over and wags his tail in a friendly hello. The 45-year-old single mother doesn’t seem like much of a fighter. She spends most of her days sitting on an overstuffed sofa with a heating pad behind her back to ease chronic pain and migraines that have kept her on disability for nearly five years. Her voice is soft and halting. Yet this woman is behind a fierce assault on the music industry and its tactics for combating music piracy on the Internet. “I’ve just got to keep doing what I believe is right,” she says, with Tazz curled up next to her on the couch. “And that’s fighting and letting people know what’s happening.”

After being sued by the music industry for stealing songs and winning the case’s dismissal, Andersen is now taking the record industry to court. Her case is aimed at exposing investigative practices that are controversial and may be illegal, according to the lawsuit. One company hired by the record industry, she claims, snoops through people’s computers, uncovering private files and photos, even though it has no legal right to do so. A different industry-backed company uses tactics similar to those of debt collectors, pressuring people to pay thousands of dollars in settlements even before any wrongdoing is proven. In Andersen’s case, the industry’s Settlement Support Center said that unless she paid $4,000 to $5,000 immediately, it would “ruin her financially,” the suit alleges.

Andersen is going after the recording industry under conspiracy laws. She argues the Recording Industry Association of America, the industry’s trade group, and its affiliates worked together on a broad campaign to intimidate people into making financial payoffs. The defendants “secretly met and conspired” to develop a “litigation enterprise” with the ultimate goal of preserving the major record companies’ control over the music business. Andersen is requesting class action status for her case, seeking at least $5 million in compensation for the class.

The RIAA says Andersen’s allegations are categorically false. It says it isn’t violating any laws. In fact, the courts have sided with the industry a number of times when it has faced claims similar to Andersen’s. The RIAA emphasizes that it doesn’t want to sue music listeners. But aggressive steps are necessary, it says, to stop rampant piracy that it figures costs the U.S. record industry at least $3.7 billion annually in sales. “The magnitude of this [theft] is incalculable,” says Richard L. Gabriel, lead national counsel for the RIAA and a partner at the Denver law firm Holme, Roberts, & Owen. “We don’t have an illusion that we can shut it down completely, but we do think that the suits will help get the marketplace to a fair place, where the illegal doesn’t control the legal.”

While the recording industry has gone after thousands of people, Andersen is unusual. Of the 40,000 people the RIAA says it has targeted for legal action, at most 100 have decided to defend themselves in court, says Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group. Few want to pay the legal costs of fighting the music industry, so most settle cases quickly, even if they believe they’re innocent. Of the people who defend themselves, only a handful have taken the next step of suing the record industry for their lawyers’ fees, and only a couple have won reimbursement. Andersen, one of the few winners on all counts, is the first to file a broad lawsuit that has put the RIAA on the defensive.

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This Post Has One Comment


    Good article. It’s time the music industry woke up to the fact that its days of obscene profits and profligate consumption are gone forever.

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