p2p news / p2pnet: The bizarre sue ‘em all marketing scheme perpetrated by Organized Music’s RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) has gone mainstream and OM’s owners, Sony BMG, Vivendi Universal, Warner Music and EMI, are on the verge of a blistering PR disaster equally as serious as the one currently enjoyed by Sony.
The Big Four are treating their customers like shit, not to put too fine a point on it. But as more and more corporate print and electronic media outlets pick up the Patti Santangelo story, the lid is coming off. Santangelo is the New York mother who’s defying the labels as they try to blackmail her into admitting guilt for something she didn’t do. And Sony BMG, et al, are now using Santangelo’s children as a weapon meant to force her into abandoning her stance.
But she’s not having any. As she told p2pnet at the beginning of the drama in September, “I’m willing to take it as far as I have to to prevent other innocent people being dragged into frivolous lawsuits.”
The mainstream media were studiously ignoring her story, at the same time reporting every utterance from the RIAA and spin-doctor-in-chief Cary Sherman as though they were credible
However, covered almost exclusively by p2pnet and similar news sites, blogs such as Recording Industry vs The People, and by online citizen reporters, the story spread until it was eventually picked up by the Associated Press. The AP item immediately triggered requests from US morning shows and Patti has now been featured on NBC’s Today Show, the CBS Early Show, Fox TV, CNN and MSNBC.
How does Organized Music get to victims? Lawyer Ray Beckerman, who’s been working with Santangelo since the begining, explains:
A lawsuit is brought against a group of John Does with the corporate headquarters of the ISP as the location of the lawsuit. But, “All the RIAA knows about the people it is suing is that they are the people who paid for an internet access acount for a particular dynamic IP address,” says Beckerman, going on:
“The ‘John Does’ may live – and usually do live – hundreds or thousands of miles away, and are not even aware that they have been sued. The case may drag on for months or even years, with the RIAA being the only party that has lawyers in court to talk to the judges and other judicial personnel.
“The RIAA – without notice to the defendants – makes a motion for an “ex parte” order permitting immediate discovery. (‘Ex parte’ means that one side has communicated to the Court without the knowledge of the other parties to the suit. It is very rarely permitted, since the American system of justice is premised upon an open system in which, whenever one side wants to communicate with the Court, it has to give prior notice to the other side, so that they too will have an opportunity to be heard.).
“The ‘ex parte’ order would give the RIAA permission to take ‘immediate discovery’ – before the defendants have been served or given notice – which authorizes the issuance of subpoenas to the ISP’s asking for the names and addresses and other information about their subscribers, which is information that would otherwise be confidential.
“In the United States the courts have been routinely granting these ‘ex parte’ orders it appears. (Not so in other countries. Both Canada and the Netherlands have found the RIAA’s investigation too flimsy to warrant the invasion of subscriber privacy. Indeed the Netherlands court questioned the investigation’s legality.).
“Once the ex parte order is granted, the RIAA issues a subpoena to the ISP, and gets the subscriber’s name and address.
“The RIAA then discontinues its ‘John Doe’ ‘ex parte’ case, and sues the defendant in his own name in the district where he or she lives.
“Thus, at the core of the whole process are:
(1) the mass lawsuit against a large number of “John Does”;
(2) the “ex parte” order of discovery; and
(3) the subpoenas demanding the names and addresses of the “John Does”.
Below, lifted from Recording Industry vs The People, is the complete transcript of Santangelo on CNN’s “American Morning” with Miles O’Brien on December 27.
Also on the show was leading RIAA reality reconfiguration specialist Cary Sherman >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
American Morning – CNN
O’BRIEN: A multibillion-dollar recording industry still unloading both barrels on those who download music illegally. Normally the defendants in these cases — and there are about 17,000 of them now — are young people, high-schoolers or college age who rip songs with impunity. But what about a 43-year-old divorced mother of five who doesn’t know Kazaa from a kazoo?
She also is ensnared in that legal net, and she is fighting back. Her name is Patricia Santangelo. She joins us here and now.
Patty, good to have you with us.
PATRICIA SANTANGELO, SUED BY RECORDING INDUSTRY: Thank you.
O’BRIEN: When you heard that you were going to be sued by the recording industry, as a parent my first inclination will be, well, how much is it going to cost me to just make this go away?
Was that was your first inclination?
Not really. My first was, we didn’t do this.
O’BRIEN: You didn’t do it.
SANTANGELO: I didn’t do this.
O’BRIEN: All right. What happened with your computer, though?
SANTANGELO: What happened was that the IP address — the Cablevision company contacted me first. They were subpoenaed by the record industry for my IP address. So actually, originally my IP address was…
O’BRIEN: This is the Internet protocol address…
O’BRIEN: … which is like the computer’s phone number, essentially.
O’BRIEN: And that’s how they go out and find people who use this file-sharing freeware service. Kazaa is one of them.
All right. So go ahead. SANTANGELO: So the IP address was sued.
O’BRIEN: All right.
SANTANGELO: And I was contacted by the record industry. And to avoid being named in a lawsuit, I could have very well have settled financially.
O’BRIEN: Right. But you did not. Why not?
SANTANGELO: I was told at the time I had no music. There was no music on the computer that I owned.
I no longer lived at that same address that that IP address came from. So I told them that I couldn’t sign a, you know, document stating that I was going to stop do something that was being done. And I just wasn’t getting information about how it happened.
O’BRIEN: But were there songs that were downloaded perhaps by your kids, and that in some way is what led them to sue this IP address?
SANTANGELO: Yes, I’m sure that they, most likely, like I said, found a Kazaa file. The thing is, is that none of my children downloaded Kazaa onto my computer. They didn’t download the file- sharing program.
SANTANGELO: Without the file-sharing program, I’m assuming that none of this would have happened.
O’BRIEN: All right. But the fact is there was some illegal music on this computer. You just didn’t know about it.
SANTANGELO: I knew nothing about any illegal music.
O’BRIEN: So you don’t know — you don’t — you barely know how to check e-mail, much less know what an IP address is.
O’BRIEN: But I mean as far as knowing what Kazaa is all about…
SANTANGELO: No, I didn’t understand the process of sharing files over the Internet or anything like that.
O’BRIEN: Why do you think it’s important to fight this, though?
SANTANGELO: Everything I’ve learned since this started. I wasn’t sure at first, but I’ve been reading a lot about the lawsuits, and a lot of people like me are being sued. And they really didn’t know. And it seems like no one’s protecting us from these lawsuits.
O’BRIEN: All right. But doesn’t a parent have a responsibility to police this kind of thing? And certainly from the case of the recording industry, whoever owns the computer has some responsibility over it, right?
SANTANGELO: The person that owns the computer?
O’BRIEN: Yes. Yes.
SANTANGELO: Certainly. I think a lot of children have Internet access, and I did use parental controls on their AOL accounts, because that’s all they use.
SANTANGELO: And I should have been notified if something was downloaded. Or, you know, I didn’t even think it was possible for them to be able to do it. So I did — I did try to set it up the best I knew how.
O’BRIEN: But, of course, you have limited technological knowledge on what to do.
SANTANGELO: I had — exactly. And I also was working full time and had five children, who had a lot of friends.
O’BRIEN: All right. We can relate to it.
Sit tight here for just a moment. We’re going to bring in the other side of this.
The recording industry joining us now is Cary Sherman from Washington. He is the president of RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America.
Cary, you just heard Patty’s story. And I know you don’t want to go on — come on with her, which tells me you’re a little bit walking on egg shells on a public relations front here.
Are you concerned about the message that this sends, that this woman who doesn’t know much about computers is suddenly thrown into this big court case?
CARY SHERMAN, PRESIDENT, RIAA: Well, the message that we’re trying to send is that uploading or downloading music without authorization on the Internet is Illegal.
O’BRIEN: I know, but is that her fault? Is that her fault, though?
SHERMAN: Well, but somebody has to assume responsibility for what’s happening with kids. And I think parents need to have some kind of conversation with their kids about how to use the computer the right way and the wrong way.
I’m sure that Ms. Santangelo would be very concerned if she found out that one of her kids had shoplifted a CD and would want to know about it and take action about it. And we have to send the same message to parents and kid across the country, because what they’re doing collectively is decimating the music industry. O’BRIEN: All right. Well, there is a difference here, though. If I found out my kids had shoplifted, I would go to the store owner and have the child return the item, and so on and so forth. I doubt it would end up in a lawsuit which in her case has cost $24,000 in legal fees thus far.
Is there another way to approach this problem? Because, sad to say, it’s not stopping it.
SHERMAN: Well, we certainly have approached this problem with settlements. 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.
And we tried to be very fair and reasonable about this and take these matters up on a case-by-case basis. But the important thing is to get the message out there that this is illegal.
O’BRIEN: It might get that message out that it’s illegal, but there’s also another message which comes out, which is a question of fairness. Is it fair to go after a divorced mother of five who doesn’t have a lot of financial means, who really didn’t know anything about this and thought she was doing all she could to protect her kids online?
SHERMAN: And we understand that point. And the reality is that an overwhelming number of people who have been sued tell us the same story, that they didn’t know what was going on, they didn’t know it was illegal, and so on and so forth.
O’BRIEN: And so what do you say? You just tell them — say, tell it to the judge? Is that it?
SHERMAN: We basically try to settle at a reasonable number, taking into account all the circumstances of the particular case. In this case, if Ms. Santangelo did not do this, then she should tell us who did, and we would modify the complaint accordingly.
O’BRIEN: Oh, well that puts a parent in a tough position. You know that. Yes.
SHERMAN: Well, but parents have to assume…
O’BRIEN: Would you do that as a parent?
SHERMAN: Parents have to assume some responsibility for their kids. I would probably do what you said you would do, which would be settle the case and let that be a lesson for the kid. We had one grandfather who had those kids work off the amount that he paid to settle as a way of teaching them a lesson and making this a family event. O’BRIEN: All right. Cary Sherman, thanks very much.
Patty Santangelo, good luck.
However it turns out, we appreciate you both joining us, shedding some light on this situation.
Meanwhile, p2pnet is launching a donation campaign to help Santangelo in her battle against rthe mutli-billion-dollar against Organized Music industry and its henchmen.
Go to Fight Goliath for more.
And stay tuned.