Friday, September 26, 2003

Dismisses Granny lawsuit in wake of PR nightmare

SFGate is reporting that in the wake of a slieu of nightmarish PR disasters, the big bad Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has bowed out of a lawsuit against a 65-year-old Massachusetts grandmother accused of illegally sharing thousands of songs, including many hip-hop hits. The retired educator claims she didn't even know about file-sharing until she was served in the dead of night by an RIAA hack. The RIAA said it had gathered evidence showing Ward had used Kazaa to share more than 2,000 songs, including hip-hop hits like Trick Daddy's "I'm a Thug.'' (Hip-hop granny? yeah, right. my dad was listening to Mario Lanza at 58!)

The RIAA can file lawsuits and seek up to $150,000 in damages per violation pursuant to the provisions in the 1998 Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). The Granny's name and address was pried lose from Comcast Corp, Granny's ISP, after they were sued for the information.

The RIAA said that even though they are choosing to "give her the benefit of the doubt," they were reserving the right to refile the lawsuit later. One has to wonder if the RIAA is merely waiting until the heat dies down as the decision comes on the heals of several high profile lawsuits against children and elderly computer users which have prompted Senators Norm Coleman (R - Mn) and Sam Brownback (R - Ks) to hold hearings to investigate whether the RIAA has misused their ability to file civil subpeonas.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation will be watching this case closely as they are on the forefront of protecting computer users digital rights. Their mission is to be vigilant over rampant abuse of powers under the DMCA.

"The recording industry will continue to catch -- and terrify -- innocent people like Sarah Ward in its dragnet as long as these lawsuits continue," added EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz.

And while E-R supports the RIAAs right to protect the copyrights of songers and songwriters, suing granny's and eight-year old little girls is not what we call "fair play."


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