p2pnet news | RIAA news:- The Big 4 organised music cartel’s RIAA has for years been using the mainstream media, innuendo and legal tricks in a bid to wear down two American teenagers and their mother in one of the longest running file sharing court cases.
It started when New York mother of five Patti Santangelo refused to allow EMI (Britain), Vivendi Universal (France), Sony BMG (Japan and Germany) and Warner Music (US) to use their RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) to terrorise her into admitting to an offence she hadn’t committed.
She was accused of being a massive online distributor of copyrighted music. The RIAA knew from the beginning Patti was completely innocent, but that didn’t stop them from making her life an utter misery, month after month.
But the real targets were two of her children, Michelle, who was 16 when the attacks began, Bobby, who was only 12.
The RIAA eventually had to drop its case against Patti, but that didn’t matter because she wasn’t the one they were after in the first place: the multi-billion-dollar Big 4 wanted Michelle and Bobby who at the time had no legal representation, and no money.
The case generated an enormous amount of public and media attention, which was exactly what the big four organised music cartel wanted.
Deceptive, misleading and unsound
The names Patti, Michelle and Bobby Santangelo are familiar to anyone who’s been following the RIAA sue ‘em all campaign and it might seem all three have already been tried and convicted of the non-existent crime of sharing music online.
In reality, though, the RIAA lost against Patti and their case against her two children has only just begun with the Santangelo’s lawyer, Jordan Glass, filing his clients’ answers to the RIAA’s assertions.
Like their mother, Michelle and Bobby insist the RIAA case has been wholly built on deceptive, misleading and unsound arguments. And like her, they’re determined to stand up to the labels, come what may.
They’re denying all the allegations lodged against them, and central to their case are their assertions that while, on the one hand, the labels have been suing their customers for sharing music, on the other, they’ve been actively promoting downloading.
Footnote 10 in Bobby and Michelle’s court document adequately summarises the situation from the point of view of the Santagelos.
It says >>>
Plaintiffs make much of the alleged downloading being the same as if someone stole a CD from a store. While no one advocates theft of any sort, plaintiffs’ bizarre analogy really translates thus: if a CD were stolen, a minor would most probably receive a ‘youthful offender’ conviction (if at all), which would then be ‘Adjourned in Contemplation of Dismissal’ and sealed, with restitution paid – even at five times the price of the CD – of $150.00. Under Plaintiffs’ demands, however, with an average of 12 tracks per CD, this same defendant would owe a minimum of $9,000.00 (plus $490.00 in costs) – more than 63 times the worst-case disposition of the criminal case, and still many multiples of what even a New York lawyer would cost in the criminal case. What message does this send? Well, people *do* know to *not* steal CDs from stores because they were taught it was wrong – they were *on notice,* a central and basic tenet of American Jurisprudence; however, they were taught just the opposite about downloading music from the Internet and *never* educated or put on notice otherwise … until it was too late.
Says who? No less than Sony, one of the Plaintiffs [suing Michelle and Bobby] herein and member of the RIAA:
‘What’s changed since the original Walkman debuted is that Sony became the only conglomerate to be in both consumer electronics and entertainment. As a result, it’s conflicted: Sony’s electronics side needs to let customers move files around effortlessly, but its entertainment side wants to build in restraints, because it sees every customer as a potential thief. The company’s internal divisions reflect those in the marketplace, where entertainment executives have declared war on consumers over file-sharing. But Sony’s position is unique. It can settle the fight and flourish, or do nothing and be hobbled.
‘Instead, it’s tried to play both sides. As a member of the Consumer Electronics Association, Sony joined the chorus of support for Napster against the legal onslaught from Sony and the other music giants seeking to shut it down. As a member of the RIAA, Sony railed against companies like Sony that manufacture CD burners. And it isn’t just through trade associations that Sony is acting out its schizophrenia. Sony shipped a Celine Dion CD with a copy-protection mechanism that kept it from being played on Sony PCs. Sony even joined the music industry’s suit against Launch Media, an Internet radio service that was part-owned by – you guessed it – Sony. Two other labels have since resolved their differences with Launch, but Sony Music continues the fight, even though Sony Electronics has been one of Launch’s biggest advertisers and Launch is now part of Yahoo!, with which Sony has formed a major online partnership. It’s as if hardware and entertainment have lashed two legs together and set off on a three-legged race, stumbling headlong into the future.’
This article is from February 2003, in the middle of the time claimed in the lawsuit against the Defendant. This clearly shows the entertainment industry in the midst of its own turmoil about free downloading. And, if Sony – one of the Plaintiffs herein – was undecided about whether downloading was OK, how were the Defendants herein – or defendants anyplace – supposed to know? Plaintiffs have always ‘vehemently denied’ that they did anything to foster free online music downloading. This screams for a Churchillism.
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