[LINK] MacCentral: 'RIAA sued under racketeering laws'
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Sat Feb 21 12:11:12 EST 2004
RIAA sued under racketeering laws
By Stacy Cowley, IDG News Service
February 20, 2004 8:45 am ET
Online chat rooms and bulletin boards populated by file-swapping fans
are filled with postings comparing the Recording Industry Association
of America (RIAA) to a Mafia-like syndicate. Now, one target of the
group's lawsuits against alleged music pirates is asking the judicial
system to back that assessment.
A New Jersey woman has filed a lawsuit against the RIAA under
anti-racketeering statutes, charging the group with using scare
tactics to extort money from the individuals it sues.
Michele Scimeca is one of more than 1,000 alleged online
file-swappers sued by the RIAA since the middle of last year. The
group filed another batch of 531 lawsuits on Wednesday. The RIAA has
settled a number of those lawsuits -- and therein lies the problem,
according to the complaint Scimeca filed in the U.S. District Court
for New Jersey.
"Instead of merely providing service of the complaint upon the
various defendants, including Ms. Scimeca, the Plaintiffs have opted
to include a letter discussing and prompting settlement of the
copyright infringement action," the complaint states. "This scare
tactic has caused a vast amount of settlements from individuals who
feared fighting such a large institution and feel victim to these
actions and felt forced to provide funds to settle these actions
instead of fighting the institution."
The complaint argues that the main intent of the RIAA's lawsuit
campaign is to extract financial settlements from those sued, and
charges the group with violating Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations (RICO) laws.
Scimeca's lawyer, Bart Lombardo, said his client will also be
challenging the legality of suing individuals for online file sharing
through peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa.
"This counterclaim that we're filing is about the tactics used to
enforce," he said. "Of course, we'll also be arguing the legality of
the downloading, but that's a separate matter."
An RIAA representative did not return a call seeking comment. At an
unrelated press conference Thursday, RIAA Director of Anti-Piracy
Brad Buckles said he had not yet seen a copy of the lawsuit and
declined comment. He defended the organization's campaign of lawsuits
against individual file-swappers.
"We think the lawsuits are being very successful," he said. "I think
we've seen some great strides out of that. People are beginning to
realize that what at first blush might seem like innocent activity,
moving files around on the Internet, is in fact theft of property
from artists and companies."
Roger Clarke http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd, 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program, University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Baker Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre, U.N.S.W
Visiting Fellow in Computer Science, Australian National University
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