First RIAA P2P File Share Trial

By Jon Newton 12/3/05

When p2pnet spoke with Patricia Santangelo, the New York mother of five children being pilloried by the four members of the Organized Music family for allegedly sharing music online, we asked her, "Assuming your case ends up in court, how far are you willing to go?"

"I'm willing to take it as far as I have to to prevent other innocent people being dragged into frivolous lawsuits," she told us. "It's wrong."

And she's sticking to her guns.

Her motion to have a case brought against her by OM's RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) was recently dismissed by judge Colleen McMahon.

Patricia Santangelo

But Santangelo isn't about to give in and has elected for trial by jury which could, for the first time, bring the vicious actions brought by Sony BMG, Vivendi Universal, Warner Music and EMI against virtually helpless American men, women and children, out into the open.

"When the lawyerspeak is stripped away," wrote Nate Anderson on Ars Technica, "what this means is that Santangelo is accused of downloading the following fine pieces of pop music:

* Lit "Happy"
* Incubus "Nowhere fast"
* Third Eye Blind "Semi-Charmed Life"
* UB40 "Can't Help Falling in Love"
* Godsmack "Whatever"
* Foo Fighters "Breakout"

"We haven't seen a trial on this issue yet because the RIAA has generously offered to settle the suits for amounts in the US$3000-4000 range, rather than the tens of thousands they would demand if they prevailed in court. To date, more than three thousand people have coughed up. Santangelo vows to fight on, though, claiming that the likely culprit is not her but a friend's child who used her computer.

"The RIAA disagrees. They argue that their methodology for tracking down the 'bad guys' is more or less error-free."

But the RIAA has been wrong before, says Anderson, "as it was in its 2003 suit against Sarah Seabury Ward, a sixty-something sculptor who was accused of downloading gangsta rap. The suit was eventually withdrawn, but the case (and others like it, including one against a dead grandmother) does shed some doubt on the RIAA's ability to correctly identify the infringing party. With Santangelo's case now headed for trial, a judge's ruling may provide more clarity about what the RIAA can and cannot do in its war on musical piracy."

Santangelo is continuing to stand up to the multi-billion dollar Organized Music cartel.

"Don't let your fear of these massive companies allow you to deny your belief in your own innocence," she told us. "Paying these settlements is an admission of guilt. If you're not guilty of violating the law, don't pay."

Meanwhile, Oklahoma nurse Debbie Foster is the latest person to join Santangelo, Tanya Andersen and others to show the labels who's in charge.

If you're a blogger, or if you run a site, pick this up and let the world know.


Jon Newton is the editor of 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.

Other MP3 stories:
Bush Administration to Sony: It's your intellectual property -- it's not your computer.
Europe Groups Demand Consumer Digital Rights
Can iTunes Resurrect Old Time TV?

The 30GB iPod Video is available on Amazon


Back to