p2pnet news | Music:- Have you ever clapped eyes on a more scurvy looking crew of thieving, file sharing pirates? They are, from left to right, Jack, Nicole, Ryan, Bobby and Michelle.
Actually, only two of them are thus accused —- Bobby and Michelle.
But, say the members of the Big 4 organised music cartel, they’re both hard-core, file sharing criminals. (And check out Ryan in the middle with the striped shirt. Look at those sneaky eyes.)
I explained to them what I believe is right, that the principle is that stealing music is stealing music. Frankly, right is right and wrong is wrong, particularly when a parent is talking to a child. A bright line around moral responsibility is very important. I can assure you they no longer do that.
Is the quote from Michelle and Bobby’s mother, Patti, after she’d learned her son and daughter were supposedly criminal file sharers, even though no charges had been laid and there’s no such offence as criminal, or even illegal, file sharing?
No. It’s from Warner Music boss Edgar Bronfman jr who admits his seven children have shared music online.
So, will they, too, be publicly hounded and humiliated by Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG’s RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America)’?
Not a chance. They’ve been punished. But all they had to suffer was a ludicrous lecture on ‘bright shining lines’.
The heinous non-crime
Patti Santangelo was the person initially accused by the RIAA of copyright infringement, the heinous non-crime the labels are using against their own customers across America. But she refused to be cowed by the multi-billion-dollar bullies.
The RIAA has dropped its case against her. But that doesn’t mean she can relax. Far from it. Because her place has been taken by Michell and Bobby …
She fought the RIAA to a stand-still but now, as per standard Big 4 practice, her children are being terrorised.
They’re fighting to survive the court-sanctioned intimidation, obfuscations, deceits, delays, demands for ‘clarification,’ and so on, that are an integral part of the weaponry used by the RIAA’s legal assault teams against their victims, the greater majority of whom don’t even begin to have the legal or financial resources to withstand them.
Michelle and Bobby have, through their lawyer, Jordan Glass, who also represented Patti, again responded to the spurious RIAA allegations, this time adding four counterclaims and modifying the previous two
Glass told p2pnet the first, Failure to Warn, is novel, as far as he knows, “and has been modified to include more consumer protection grounds, based on both New York State and Federal statutes”.
Failure to warn? Like, should all members of the public have been told up front, plainly and clearly, they were in danger of being hauled into court if they indiscriminately shared copyrighted files with each other online without first paying the labels?
Yes, state the Santangelos and Glass. In the amended counterclaims, they say the labels should have followed the example of the Executive Office of the President of the United States which, through the Office of Management and Budget, “sent a memo to warn themselves and other federal employees, of the various dangers and alleged illegalities of downloading music (as well as pornography and other things …) and, ‘to show the American Public’ responsible Internet practices.:
The other five are:
- Counterclaim # 2 Misuse of copyright
- Counterclaim # 3 Computer fraud and abuse
- Counterclaim # 4 Deceptive and unfair trade practices
- Counterclaim # 5 Trespass to chattels
- Counterclaim # 5 Civil conspiracy
Outright RIAA lie
Jammie Thomas, a Minnesota woman with two sons, also knows what it feels like to be targeted by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America).
“In what has to be one of the most outrageous verdicts ever recorded in America, without a shred of hard evidence, judge Michael J. Davis virtually instructed the jury to find Jamie Thomas guilty of copyright infringement, saying she must pay close to a quarter of a million dollars,” p2pnet said recently, and the case continues to generate headlines around the world.
But she, Michelle and Bobby are fighting back and as they do so, the members of the multi-billion-dollar organised music cartel, Vivendi Universal (France), Sony BMG (Japan and Germany), EMI (Britain), and Warner Music (US), are slowly but steadily haemorrhaging what little credibility they had in their claims that they’re being “devastated” (the word they use) by file sharers.
The RIAA claims most of its stated 26,000 victims have settled, a term the Big 4 use to describe the extortion procedure under which victims believe they can buy the RIAA off but which in reality does no more than provide the labels with what amounts to an admission which can conceivably be used at some later date.
In a CNN American Morning interview, RIAA president Cary Sherman stated unequivocally:
We were disappointed that Ms Santangelo didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to get rid of this case quickly, as most people have when they find that somebody in their household or somebody using their computer was in the wrong.
In much the same way the RIAA implies a subpoena equals a successful prosecution when in fact it’s no more than a request for a document, or an order to testify, they try to give the idea that a ‘settlement’ equals an admission of guilt.
The “most people” claim is one the RIAA makes repeatedly.
But around the time Sherman made the statement, another RIAA spokesperson, Jonathan Lamy, admitted only 1,700 of the 8,400 people who’d then received subpoenas had ‘settled’. Has there since been a sudden rush of victims to settle? Unlikely.
But even had the RIAA lie been true, all it would have meant is ‘X’ number of victims would have bought the RIAA off because they literally couldn’t afford to do anything else. And p2pnet believes the number of people thus lined up is now in excess of 30,000.
The RIAA black cloud
It’s easy to see these incidents of corporate brutality merely as dry court cases.
But these are real people. Real families.
Opposite are pictures of four RIAA ‘Massive Online file Sharers’.
From left to right, they are Kylee Andersen, 10, and her mother, Tanya: Marie Lindor, a New York home health aide who doesn’t know one end of a computer from the other; Rae-Jay Schwartz, bound to a wheelchair by muscular sclerosis; and, Patti Santangelo.
Evil-looking crew, aren’t they?
“It’s been a very long time and I’ve grown very weary from the RIAA black cloud that’s been lingering over my family for three years,” Patti told me over the weekend.
She went on:
My heart does go out to Ms Thomas and I do believe the judgment amount was out of line.
I am under a great deal of pressure financially and want so desperately to have my kids’ case go to trial. But the immense cost of discovery and expert witnesses may cause us not to have an “equal opportunity” to defend the children.
And that’s the way it works.
Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG’s RIAA never lets up. Its owners have bottomless pockets, endless legal resources and they know they can keep on hammering their victims for as long as it takes to drive them into the ground.
People such as Patti and Jammie and the other RIAA victims are, on the other hand, very ordinary Americans and they have absolutely no hope of being to defend themselves adequately against the obscenely rich corporate music cowards, represented by the RIAA and their other similar organisations in most developed countries.
The labels know it and count it.
“Will this ever end?” – asks Patti, adding:
I certainly hope so. I have no doubt that if I could stand before a jury of my peers I could explain to them how outrageously wrong this “Educational Campaign” of the RIAA’s really is.
Pray that I someday get that chance.
Files shared equal sales lost
The Big 4 plan is: with Patti and all of the other innocent people not only in America, but around the world, as examples, others will believe the same thing could easily happen to them.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The chances of any one person being singled out is about the same as their winning the pools or the lottery or inheriting a fortune.
Literally billions of people routinely and regularly share music with each other online, but the Big 4 have only been able to pick out a few thousand as targets.
They say every time someone shares, they lose a sale —- that the person who received the music file would otherwise have walked into a retail outlet, or gone online to a ‘ legitimate’ download site, and bought it.
It doesn’t take an economist with a PhD to understand the claim is farcical, but it’s swallowed whole and regurgitated as fact by the mainstream press.
The Big 4 say when someone shares file, it’s exactly the same as if they’d walked into a store, grabbed a CD, put it in their pocket and walked out without paying for it.
That, too, is absurd.
With sharing, nothing has been stolen, no one has been deprived of something he or she used to own, and no money has changed hands.
It’s your country: take it back
The corporate music industry is a racket run by a small band of venal profiteers who spend a fortune on cynical public relations exercises which successfully white-wash them as honest business people trying to run honest businesses.
But despite mainstream media protestations that the labels are winning their fight against their own customers, the Santangelos, the Thomases, the Andersens, the Schwartzes and the steadily growing numbers of other innocent victims are slowly but surely stemming the corporate tide.
With Patti Santangelo out of the way, Michelle and Bobby are the RIAA’s new targets, but unfortunately for the labels, they’re showing the same kind of toughness and integrity Patti has demonstrated since the beginning.
They’re demanding a trial.
In April this year, Glass wrote:
The abuse of the nation’s children by these companies, turning parent against child, brother against sister, friend against friend, universities against their students and vendors against their customers, is turning this country into a neighborhood spy network. Such behavior was seen during McCarthyism, the Red scare, and the internment of the Japanese during WW-II. All over Europe and the USSR, friends spied on their neighbors. The Patriot Act has made us unpatriotic because we’ve allowed our government to take away our rights instead of forcing others to respect them. Our government has sold us out to wrest more control over us and we’re letting it happen.
He went on:
We’ve allowed the RIAA to bring suits against people without their knowledge. The government has violated its own laws (laws meant to serve and protect us) in allowing communications with courts without notice to potential litigants. The government has allowed a private industry to conduct what amounts to criminal investigations into people’s hard drives, without subpoenas or obtaining permission of a judge on a case-by-case basis. There is not now, and nor has there been, oversight of those private industry companies which have been invading hard drives without legal permission.
The entire legal structure has been perverted by this process. Patti’s case was special because she was the first to push back, hard, against the RIAA machine.
I believe I was the first to challenge the RIAA discovery demands, based upon the transcript in which the RIAA attorneys claimed the same demands had been used in every case and had never been challenged.
We won more than two-thirds of our objections (13 of 19), setting the stage for others to take an even more aggressive – and even more successful – approach.
Patti’s case has trail-blazed for others, and others have benefitted from her efforts. This is what she hoped would happen. But the work isn’t finished, and it’ll continue through the end of her case, the matters against her children, and in university defense cases being planned.
It’s your country: take it back!
In their amended counterclaims, Michelle and Bobby say, in part:
Counterclaim defendants, through various concerted efforts and cartels, control or attempt to control the channels of creation, distribution, and sale of musical works throughout the United States and the world. They are not artists, songwriters or musicians.
They did not write or record the songs the control or purport to control.
For a number of years, a group of large, multinational, multi-billion dollar record companies, including these Counterclaim defendants, have been abusing the federal court judicial system for the purpose of waging a public relations and public threat campaign targeting digital file sharing activities. As part of this campaign, these record companies hired unlicensed private investigators – in violation of various state laws – who receive a bounty to invade private computers and private computer networks to obtain information – in the form of Internet Protocol (“IP”) addresses – allowing them to identify the computers and computer networks that they invaded.
These unlicensed investigators perform these investigations in New York and other states.
Using information obtained from this illegal invasion, the record companies file so-called “John Doe”lawsuits – reportedly against more than 13,500 anonymous “John Does.”
The “John Doe”lawsuits are filed for the sole purpose of activating the discovery powers of the court system – notably, the subpoena power – to obtain records from Internet service providers, to connect the IP addresses the names of individual account holders allegedly using those IP addresses at the time of the invasion. However, service providers have no way of knowing the identities of the person or persons who may be using the computer or computer network at the time the records companies invade it. In fact, there is not even any way to verify that the unlicensed investigators secretly snooping for IP addresses have obtained the correct ones.
After harvesting the names of account holders through these subpoenas, the record companies often dismiss the John Doe suits. The record companies then provide the personal information to their agent, the “Settlement Support Center,”which engages in deceptive and illegal practices aimed at extorting money from people allegedly identified from the secret lawsuits. Most of the people subjected to these secret suits do not even know that they have been sued until a demand for payment is made by lawyers for the record companies or by the Settlement Support Center operatives.
The Settlement Support Center is a company organized for the sole purpose of contacting prospective defendants and demanding that they pay thousands of dollars each to avoid the prospect of a federal lawsuit against them. This demand takes no account of the merits of any prospective claim against the putative defendant, but instead relies upon the inherent inequality in resources and litigation power between Counterclaim defendants and their individual victims.
As part of this campaign of extortion, Counterclaim defendants enhance the intimidation factor by actually filing suit in a number of instances with no prior warning. These suits are designed to attract media attention, and often do, as stories emerge of Counterclaim defendants’ suits against the elderly, disabled, technologically clueless, and other vulnerable victims. Many of these victims have no idea how to operate a computer, let alone how to install and use peer-to-peer networking software to exchange music they would not likely be listening to anyway. But actual innocence is rarely a consideration to Counterclaim defendants.
The instant suit is just one example, yet it is an integral part of the Counterclaim defendants’ extortion campaign. As a result, it is but one affirmative action out of thousands taken by the Counterclaim defendants in furtherance of their criminal extortion campaign.
Counterclaim defendants’ litigation campaign, and its preceding extortionate demands and illegal investigations, are part of a concerted pattern of sham litigation.
Counterclaim defendants’ true purpose is not to obtain the relief claimed in its sham litigation, but to intimidate, harass, and oppress the Counterclaim plaintiffs and other users of computer networks.
Click here to read the document.
And as we say here, there’s something else to consider.
The labels are victimising thousands of ordinary people safe, they think, in the knowledge that these people don’t have the resources to defend themselves or stand up to them.
But money, lawyers and political clout aren’t all there is.
And definitely stay tuned.
Jon Newton – p2pnet
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