By Jon Newton 9/13/03
"If I knew the rest of my life wouldn't be ruined and that I wouldn't have this huge financial thing hanging over my head, I'd stand up to them," Lorraine Sullivan told us exclusively.
"But I can't take the risk."
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Lorraine is a college student in New York. She has two cats - TRE and Hamlet.
And she's up against the RIAA - the Recording Industry Association of America
- and its paymasters, the international record industry, because she's one of
the 261 people named in the RIAA's first wave civil sue 'em all prosecutions.
She's apparently accused of sharing 1700 songs and under under US copyright law, could be facing penalties of up to $150,000 per song.
That's why, as she told us, she's decided to settle for an yet undetermined amount and, through her web page, is looking for financial help.
"Like 60 million other people around the world, I've used the Internet to enjoy music," she says on suedbytheriaa.com here. "And now the RIAA and the Big Five record labels want me to pay them a settlement.
"I'd like to resist the RIAA and the recording industry. I wish I could. I wish I didn't have to worry about my future.
"But I'm terrified of bankruptcy. How could I, an already in debt college student, possibly go up against a multi-billion-dollar international industry and survive?"
Lorraine, who's into all kinds of music from hip-hop to John Cougar Mellencamp, offered 1700 files, says the record label mouthpiece. That's a lot. And the RIAA has says repeatedly that it'll nail any individual it can find who's trading in substantial numbers of music files.
However, Lorraine says, she wasn't knowingly trading anything and as far as the downloading was concerned, feels misleading advertising and lack of a clear disclaimer on the part of the p2p company contributed.
"I honestly didn't know about the possible repercussions," she says.
But how could she say that when she offered 1700 songs, as the RIAA apparently claims?
"The real irony is - I didn't even know I was doing it," she says on her web page. "I'd installed p2p software and it went automatically to a folder which stored the songs I'd downloaded. I didn't know it but this folder was also open to the world. It was turned off in the old software."
But what about the 1700 files?
Lorraine says a lot of people had access to her computer and we can confirm that among them, they could easily account for the downloads.
And Lorraine went through the entire 1700 to find the songs she was responsible for.
"I downloaded 108, to be exact," she told us.
Did she inform the RIAA of this when its representatives first told her that she was on the list of people it intended to prosecute?
Earlier, we said she's 'apparently' been accused because she still hasn't received official notification of charges, or anything else, from the association.
"The first I knew about the lawsuit was when about four different reporters left messages asking me to call them about it," she says.
"When I spoke to the RIAA, they threw some numbers at me like $150,000 per song. The man I spoke to was very helpful when I told him I'd heard from a reporter that I'd been sued."
We asked Lorraine how the reporters had known where to phone her.
"I didn't understand how they knew to call me," she answered. "They say they looked me up and found the information."
Lorraine assumes, but doesn't know, her address and other information was on court documents the media were able to access.
Nor does she know exactly what will happen next, although she's decided to settle because she fears the worst if she doesn't.
"Believe me - if I had endless amounts of money, I'd stand up to the RIAA and its lawyers," she says on her web site. "But I don't and so I'm going to have to pay what is to me a fortune.
"If anyone has any other ideas about what to do, I'd really like to know what they are.
"But I don't think I have any other alternative. I have to pay the record industry what little savings I have for having listened to its music.
"I'll cancel my phone and cable, live off of Ramen noodles and use candles - but I don't want to have to give away my cats.
"So, if please help if you can. A nickel, a quarter, a dollar - anything will help. But if you can't do that, send me a message of support. It's very lonely, here."
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Other MP3 stories:
CDs and the Scarcity Principle
The RIAA Settles Fast With 12-year-old Trader
Copyrights: Two-thirds of Adult File Traders Couldn't Care Less.