p2pnet news | RIAA News:- In cases which should by rights have been initiated by the Bush government on behalf of innocent families across America, falsely attacked by Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG, RIAA victims Tanya Andersen and Michelle Santangelo are determined to make the Big 4, as well as companies involved in the sue ‘em all morass, pay, literally and figuratively, for the distress they’ve caused and are still causing.
Andersen, a disabled mother living in Oregon, has launched the first class action against the RIAA and the members of the Big 4 organised music cartel.
And in the second lawsuit, Santangelo, from New York, has filed a cross-suit against Sharman Networks’ Kazaa, AOL and Matthew Seckler, whom she says installed Kazaa software on her computer without her knowledge or permission.
It’s Tanya’s turn
Anderson and her ten-year-old daughter, Kylee, have been harried by the RIAA from pillar to post.
“I think it is really disgusting what the RIAA and these other companies have done to me and people like me,” Andersen told p2pnet today.
“They have made my life a mess, put my life on hold, and created a lot of damage. I’ve been treated like a criminal for something I never did. My life will never be the same. I feel these companies should be ashamed and held responsible for what they have done. I don’t care who someone is, they shouldn’t be allowed to attack an innocent person and make their life a living nightmare.
“I hope what I’m doing can help not only myself, but others like myself, who have been put under this same type of unnecessary attack.”
In a request for class action status which, if and when successful, will ultimately include every one of the 30,000 or so RIAA victims, Andersen and her lawyer, Lory Lybeck (right), are looking to recover compensation for the, “significant damages caused by the Defendants” as well as punitive damages, statutory penalties, litigation fees and expenses and equitable relief.
Her amended complaint is impressive. She’s citing negligence, fraud, negligent misrepresentation, federal and state RICO, abuse of process, malicious prosecution, intentional infliction of emotional distress, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, trespass, invasion of privacy, libel and slander, deceptive business practices, misuse of copyright law, and civil conspiracy.
On the wrong end of the class action are
- The RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)
- MediaSentry and its owner, SafeNet
- The Settlement Support Center, a Washington company operating as the debt collection arm for the defendants’ “coordinated enterprise to pursue a scheme of threatening and intimidating litigation”
- Atlantic Recording Corporation, Priority Records, Capitol Records, UMG Recordings, and BMG Music who filed Atlantic Recording Corp., et al v. Andersen, No. CV 05-933 AS (D Or) action against Andersen
The RIAA, “claims to be a New York not-for-profit corporation,” says Andersen’s court document, going on:
It holds itself out as a trade group that directs and controls its member companies in the filing of thousands of lawsuits against individuals in federal courts across the country. These RIAA controlled member companies are subsidiaries of 4 major companies that monopolize and control the sale of over 90% of all the music that is commercially distributed in the United States. For several years the RIAA has engaged in a coordinated enterprise to pursue a scheme of threatening and intimidating litigation in an attempt to maintain its music distribution monopoly.
MediaSentry, “assists the RIAA and its controlled member companies in their coordinated enterprise to pursue a scheme of threatening and intimidating litigation against tens of thousands of private U.S. citizens,” say Andersen and Lybeck. It also, “conducts illegal, flawed and negligent investigations for the RIAA and its controlled member companies,”they state.
On August 26, 2005, Andersen and her then eight-year-old daughter were, “sitting down to dinner, a legal process server knocked on her door,” says her document. It goes on:
When she answered the door, she was served with a lawsuit filed by RIAA-controlled music distribution companies in a federal court. Ms. Andersen was shocked, afraid, and very distressed. The lawsuit falsely claimed that she owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to these companies as penalties for copyright infringement.
Ms. Andersen knew that she was completely innocent of the charges against her. She answered the false claims and asserted counterclaims seeking damages. During discovery, Ms. Andersen learned that the lawsuit filed against her was based solely upon an illegal, flawed and negligent investigation.
Almost two years later, on the eve of summary judgment, the lawsuit was dismissed with prejudice.
The RIAA is, “composed of 4 major multinational member companies each having many subsidiary member companies,” says her request for class action status, going on:
The RIAA publicly claims to exercise an actual monopoly and control over 90% of the sound recordings sold in the United States.
Defendant MediaSentry is in the business of conducting personally invasive private investigations of private citizens in many states in the U.S. for the RIAA and its controlled member companies. MediaSentry advertises that its services include investigation and litigation support.
Pursuant to a secret agreement, the RIAA, its controlled member companies and MediaSentry conspired to develop a massive threat and litigation enterprise targeting private citizens across the United States. The RIAA and its controlled member companies have for years aggressively acted to prevent disclosure of the secret agreement and their conspiratorial enterprise. Recently it has been discovered that as a part of this secret enterprise MediaSentry has for years conducted illegal, flawed and negligent investigations of many thousands of private United States citizens. These illegal investigations were and are used as the sole basis for the pursuit of tens of thousands of threatened and actual lawsuits throughout the U.S.
MediaSentry claims to conduct private investigations of private U.S. citizens without authorization and under the false pretext of being a peer user. It claims to employ secret methods to enter individual computers to surreptitiously and illegally gather information on private citizens. In reality and at best, MediaSentry is only capable of identifying an internet protocol (IP) address which it then provides to the RIAA. The RIAA and its controlled member companies then use this illegally obtained information in its public threat and litigation enterprise.
MediaSentry and the RIAA know that their investigations are illegal and flawed. MediaSentry is not licensed or registered to conduct private investigation of private U.S. citizens. Moreover, in a March 2004 sworn deposition MediaSentry`s then president admitted to various serious flaws in the investigative scheme which all Defendants know result in misidentification of individuals. Despite this knowledge, Defendants have falsely represented to many tens of thousands of people that they have been definitively and personally identified as copyright infringers.
Michelle fights back
In what’s probably another first, Santangelo has launched a third party action against Sharman Networks’ Kazaa, the p2p file sharing software implicated in the vast majority of the RIAA sue ‘em all cases.
Sharman, based in Australia, was once itself sued by the Big 4 but is now on their side of the fence.
“It was suggested in Interscope v. Duty that defendants should consider such third party practice,” says Recording Industry vs The People.
Also named is former family friend Matthew Seckler.
Says Santangelo’s court document:
Kazaa operates in the background of one’s computer, seizing information and bandwidth unknown to the user or owner, recklessly disregarding copyright laws and ensnaring unsuspecting users into unintended sharing (as well as creating entire classes of unknowing violators the parents, for allowing the ‘illegal’ activity to take place not just in
the ‘North 40′of their hard drive, but ‘underground’ because Kazaa’s activity is automatically buried so as to avoid detection; and, the children such as Defendants herein, who, in listening to their own, rightly-purchased CD’s unknowingly become distributing pirates). Kazaa also blocked the RIAA’s alleged warning notices to unsuspecting users.
Seckler, “loaded the offending program (Kazaa) onto the Santangelo computer without permission: and, “was a trespasser or violator of any conceivable license he might have claimed,” say Santangelo and her lawyer, Jordan Glass.
AOL, “had the opportunity to filter out this material and, in particular, because it is intertwined with Time-Warner, an entertainment behemoth: AOL knew of the industry’s concerns and had already provided certain filters and parental controls (‘Controls’) but did not allow the RIAA’s alleged warning messages to pass through such filters.
It also, “failed to use its Controls to prevent illegal downloading, even though it had the information, superior knowledge, ability, skill, techniques, tools, power and authority to prevent such downloading”.
Definitely stay tuned.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
(Revised at 6:00 pm Pacific)
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