Thursday, January 26, 2006

Recording Industry vs The People

This past Christmas there is one kind of present that was absent from our family's shopping list: CD's. That's right, no shiny discs of recorded music were to be found under our Christmas tree. We haven't bought any CD's in our household in the past year, and we probably won't for the forseeable future. Why? The recording industry has declared war on its customers. Witness the following:

It was Easter Sunday, and Patricia Santangelo was in church with her kids when she says the music recording industry peeked into her computer and decided to take her to court.

Santangelo says she has never downloaded a single song on her computer, but the industry didn't see it that way. The woman from Wappingers Falls, about 80 miles north of New York City, is among the more than 16,000 people who have been sued for allegedly pirating music through file-sharing computer networks.

"I assumed that when I explained to them who I was and that I wasn't a computer downloader, it would just go away," she said in an interview. "I didn't really understand what it all meant. But they just kept insisting on a financial settlement."

The industry is demanding thousands of dollars to settle the case, but Santangelo, unlike the 3,700 defendants who have already settled, says she will stand on principle and fight the lawsuit.

"It's a moral issue," she said. "I can't sign something that says I agree to stop doing something I never did."

Read it all here.

People like Santangelo who never downloaded music illegally are being sued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) simply because music files were in a shared files folder on their internet connected PC. Did Santangelo illegally download the files? The RIAA doesn't know. Did anyone actually illegally copy the files just because they were available in a shared files folder. The RIAA doesn't know. The RIAA is proceeding on the assumption that anyone who uses file sharing software and who has mp3 files on their computer is guilty of copyright infringement. To date 3,700 people have paid settlements of $3,000 or more rather than risk the much greater cost of fighting in court. Now it seems the RIAA has met its match in Patricia Santangelo who is willing to fight rather than pay.

You can read more about Santangelo's case and contribute to her defense here.

Sadly, the lawsuits continue. You can read more about the abuses by the recording industry against women, children, and grandparents here.