p2p news / p2pnet: “Teenagers might be the next targets of a federal lawsuit filed by record companies against a soccer mom who said she did not trade songs over the Internet,” says a story in the Journal News, the New York publication which carried the first in-depth story on the Patti Santangelo case.
“The revelation by an attorney for the record companies came during Patricia Santangelo’s first appearance as her own defense lawyer in the civil case in U.S. District Court in White Plains,” it goes on. “Five record companies filed suit in February against Santangelo, 42, a divorced mother of five from Wappingers Falls who works as a property manager for a real estate company.”
Santangelo yesterday attended an ‘In Person’ conference before judge Mark D. Fox. And, “looming over her children, Michelle, 19, Nicole, 17, Bobby, 15, Jack, 10, Ryan, 7, all of whom live at home, is the RIAA,” p2pnet wrote.
“Why are they threatened? They have a lot of friends, all of whom were in and out of the Santangelo house when the file sharing was said to have occurred. And any one of them could have installed the Kazaa p2p application the labels say was used to download their tunes onto the computer Patti’s children played with.
“Santangelo told us she herself doesn’t have a clue about Kazaa, how to use it or how it got to be in the computer in the first place.
“Now the chances are Organized Music will attempt to pillory one or all of the five in the same way that they’re currently trying to get at Candy Chan, another RIAA victim, through her schoolgirl daughter, Britanny.”
Santangelo, “racked up more than $20,000 in legal bills before deciding last month she could no longer afford a lawyer to defend her,” says the Journal News. “But she still refused to settle and, though she has no legal training, opted to defend herself.”
During a proior conference before Judge Maureen McMahon, who dismissed the earlier appeal, Ray Beckerman, the New York lawyer who, until recently, represented Santangelo, told p2pnet that Timothy Congrove of Shook Hardy Bacon appeared by telephone, and Jason Sanders of Cowan Liebowitz appeared in person.
Congrove was spokesman for the plaintiffs and, “During that part of the conference various procedural and substantive matters were discussed about the management and scheduling of the case, and about whether summary judgment would be appropriate, and whether and what kind of discovery would be needed,” said Beckerman.
Congrove, “indicated that even if he were given the information as to the identity of the child who Ms Santangelo guesses might have set up the Kazaa account, he still might not be willing to discontinue the case against Ms. Santangelo.
“He also indicated that even if the person who set up the account was a child, he might well bring a lawsuit against the child.”
Santangelo told p2pnet when she’d asked her children to try to remember friends who’d used their computer, they came up with a list of about 75 names.
“She has already talked to a 16-year-old friend of her daughter and the teen’s mother about the case,” says The Journal. “The teen’s Kazaa screen name is similar to the one the record companies said was used in the file-trading.”
‘Suing the teenagers’
Jenni Engebretsen, spokeswoman for the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), owned by Sony BMG, Vivendi Universal, Warner Music and EMI, the members of Organized Music who are going after Santangelo, “defended the option of suing the teenagers,” says The Journal.
“U.S. Magistrate Mark Fox said the case could turn on whether record companies can hold liable an ‘Internet illiterate’ parent who ‘does not know Kazaa from a kazoo’,” says the Associated Press.
Yesterday AP asked p2pnet, “What’s your general impression of this case? Why is it important?”
We responded, “It’ll be the first time the members of Organized Music, Sony BMG, Vivendi Universal, Warner Music and EMI, will be held publicly accountable. They’ve needlessly victimized more than 17,000 men, women and children and the impression created is all these people have been successfully prosecuted for some as-yet undefined ‘crime’. And yet not one of them has so far appeared before in a court or before a judge. Patti will be the first, and she’s doing it alone. She’s a courageous woman to be taking on the multi-billion-dollar music industry without legal, or any other, come to that, representation.”
Aside from this case, “what’s the feeling of the p2p people about the RIAA’s thousands of lawsuits and about the RIAA’s tactics?” – asked AP.
We said we didn’t think one could confine this merely to “p2p people”. Rather, “it applies to everyone who’s ever bought a record or CD from the major labels,” p2pnet said. “And the feeling is: they’ve been ripping people off for decades, and getting away with it. But now, thanks to the Net and to p2p, we can make our feelings known in virtual international protests the music industry can’t ignore. As to their tactics, they’re wasted. File sharing is going up, not down, their claims to the contrary notwithstanding. They’ve painted themselves into a corner and now they can’t get out without losing face. But sooner or later they’ll have to admit they completely misread the entire p2p situation. When they do, they can get back to their business of producing music and selling it. But until they do, they’ll continue generating tremendous ill-will and haemorrhaging customers.”
What were our feelings about the right to exchange and download copyrighted music?
“It’s acceptable as long as it’s not for commercial purposes,” we said, adding that although we supported the labels in their attempts to deal with counterfeiting by crooks who intend to re-sell the results, “we’re now in the digital 21st century and if Organized Music would remember that and use p2p as a distribution and sales vehicle instead of seeing it as an enemy, they’d be a lot further ahead.”
We also suggested that if the Big Four would start treating their customers as reasonable people who’d will willingly pay a reasonable price for downloads say 25 to 35 cents each instead of potential criminals, “they and their shareholders would be making money instead of throwing it away on fruitless lawsuits.”
Meanwhile, Santangelo told p2pnet recently, “It’s terrible, really, having to think of this just before Christmas. It’s exhausting to have to be thinking and worry about this at any time of the year, but just before Christmas?”
But, “This isn’t just for me. It’s for all those other people as well.”
Finally, we’re close to completing the special Fight Goliath fund raising site for which MUTE author Jason Rohrer is writing a program to allow people to contribute to directly to help Patti Santangelo be able to stand up to RIAA heavy guns Shook Hardy Bacon.
Journal News – Woman sued by record industry defends herself in court, December 23, 2005
p2pnet wrote – RIAA ready to attack more kids, December 20, 2005
Associated Press – Mom Defends Herself In Music Downloading Lawsuit, December 23, 2005