Monday, August 23, 2004

It's a sad story for the defendants

Here is a sad article about how the series of RIAA lawsuits against uploaders is affecting real people. I don't have much of a problem with the lawsuits, except that I am sure there must be a better solution that wouldn't have destroyed the RIAA's public image (and the Induce Act isn't it).

Plank, recently married, refinanced his home for the money. "Apparently, they would be able to [garnish] my earnings for the rest of my life," Plank said. "For the amount I'm settling, this made sense. I didn't see any other way. They've got all the power in the world."

The campaign has also produced worries, even from one federal judge, that wealthy record companies could trample some of the 3,935 people across the country who have been sued since the first such cases were filed in September 2003. "I've never had a situation like this before, where there are powerful plaintiffs and powerful lawyers on one side and then a whole slew of ordinary folks on the other side," said U.S. District Judge Nancy Gertner at a hearing in Boston. Dozens of such lawsuits have been filed in her court.
James McDonough of Hingham, Mass., said being sued was "very vexing, very frustrating and quite frankly very intimidating." He told Gertner, the Boston judge, that his 14-year-old twins might be responsible for the "heinous crime" of downloading music "in the privacy in our family room with their friends."
At least 807 Internet users have already settled their cases by paying roughly $3,000 each in fines and promising to delete their illegal song collections, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group for the largest labels.
In Milwaukee, Suheidy Roman, 25, said she couldn't afford a lawyer when her ex-boyfriend, Gary Kilps, told record companies that both of them had downloaded music on Roman's computer. Although she denies the accusation, Roman ignored legal papers sent to her home. A U.S. judge earlier this year granted a default judgment against her and Kilps, ordering each to pay more than $4,500.
I don't have any money for an attorney, let alone for any judgment against me." She said she is unemployed with two small children.
"It scares me," Plank said. "For anyone fighting any of these lawsuits - unless they have nothing to lose - the only thing to do is settle. You have no power against these people."

Ouch, that is scary, especially if you really can't afford to pay for the music in the first place. Article here.

UPDATE: Stephen Nipper of Invent Blog fame notes in an email to me that although more people can relate to these people who have been sued because of music downloads, the situation is at least as bad for those sued for hacking their DirecTV cards by purchasing a widely available "unlooper." Here are a couple of pages about the DirecTV situation: and Thanks Stephen!!!


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