New York Mom Battles Big Music

By Jon Newton 8/19/05

“Seven and a half grand and we’re off your back. You don’t wanna know what happens if you don’t pay.”

A sleazy line from The Sopranos?

Close, but not quite.

In fact, it’s the Big Music Mafia’s standard approach to people it’s trying to sue into buying ‘product’ and in this instance, it applies to Patricia Santangelo, a divorced mother of five from White Plains, New York.


Jon Newton

"It's really surprising no one has attacked the record companies' basis for the lawsuits because the record companies' claims are actually very weak," her lawyer, Morlan Ty Rogers, is quoted as saying in a Journal News story.

But it’s not surprising in the least.

Grandmas, grandpas and even a dead woman

Calling themselves the Recording Industry Association of America, EMI (Britain), UMG (France), Sony BMG (Japan, Germany) and the only American player, WMG (USA), are trying to terrorize former customers into abandoning the p2p networks for the likes of iTunes, which sells formulaic Big Four downloads at grossly inflated prices.

The Big Four own the RIAA and almost 13,000 very ordinary Americans, including a 12-year-old, grandmas and grandpas and even a dead woman who didn't own a computer, have so far received RIAA subpoenas.

And yet not one of them has ever been found guilty of anything, or has even appeared in a civil, not criminal, court, which is where the action would take place if ever there was one.

That’s because there’s no way on earth the people being pilloried can afford to take on the multi-billion-dollar corporate music industry. And the industry knows it. So it makes its victims an offer they can’t refuse – Settle. Or else.

Its helpess victims always settle, awarding the labels a cheap victory by default which they then max out implying, with the help of the ever constant mainstream media, that they’ve “won” thousands of “successful prosecutions”.

It’s one big con, but Hey! - if you read it in the papers or see it on TV it must be true. Right?

An outright lie

It’s said that in the eyes of the law, everyone is equal.

However, "I've never had a situation like this before, where there are powerful plaintiffs and powerful lawyers on one side and then a whole slew of ordinary folks on the other side," said US district judge Nancy Gertner in Boston almost exactly a year ago.

Now this August, "Santangelo, 42, was sued by several record companies in U.S. District Court in White Plains in February," says the Journal News. "The record companies said Santangelo's home computer and Internet account were used to illegally trade copyrighted song files. The record companies say people like Santangelo are destroying their multi-billion-dollar industry."

That's not mere disinformation, it's an outright lie. The Big Four are raking it in.

The cartel's demand for $7,500 came through the RIAA 'settlement centre,' but Santangelo plans to fight although, "I am still nervous about the whole thing," the story has her saying. "I just got so aggravated about how threatening they were."

She said the settlement center bullied her, trying to get her to accept a settlement offer, says the Journal News, but "I didn't do anything wrong," she said. "Why should I pay them?"

She says she'd never used Kazaa which was on her computer and, "She didn't even know what it was before she was sued, she said. The Kazaa account name in the lawsuit belongs to a friend of her children's, not to her or anyone in her house."

'I would love to see a mom fighting one of these'

US District Judge Colleen McMahon will decide the issue, says the Journal News, adding:

"McMahon already has had a glimpse of the case from a conference May 6, before Santangelo had a lawyer. The judge told Santangelo she should get an attorney. She told the record companies' lawyers that the settlement center was no longer to be involved in the case.

"I would love to see a mom fighting one of these," said McMahon.

Will Santangelo win? If she can find the means to battle a vicious behemoth which has unlimited financial, legal and political resources at its fingertips, she probably will.

But even if she does, the sad reality is: the Big Music cartel has been able to mischaracterize literally hundreds of millions of people around the world as liars and thieves who have deliberately and knowingly stolen something which doesn't belong to them - of being actual, or potential, criminals.

The claim is as patently ridiculous as the cartel's disingenuous statements that it's being "devastated" by thieving p2p file sharers. And the supposedly fair and unbiased mainstream media continue to swallow it whole, asking for more.

But sharing isn't stealing. Nothing has been taken physically or in any other way, depriving someone by its loss. No money change hands. No sales are lost.

But money talks and the press reports.

 

Jon Newton is the editor of p2pnet.net and is a regular contributer to MP3 Newswire. Jon's site is devoted to the politics of digital music and his insights as well as those of his co-writers can be read there. We urge you to explore it.

 


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