RIAA, Record Labels, Wring $7K From Patricia Santangelo

By Jon Newton 4/29/09

When the RIAA chose Patti Santangelo as one of its first victims in the warped sue ‘em all marketing campaign launched on behalf of its owners, Vivendi Universal, EMI, Warner Music and Sony Music, it expected she’d roll over and become a perfect poster victim to encourage others to pay Big 4 extortion on demand.

They know that you know if you challenge them and lose, you’ll be looking at staggering damages, plus their attorney’s fees, which will be equally out of sight. But as we’ve pointed out many times, the sue ‘em all suits have nothing to do with compensation for supposedly lost sales, or for artists to be paid.

Or for anything else to do with copyright infringement.

“The industry isn’t suing you for damages, that’s not what they’re doing here,” lawyer-cum-musician Paul Rapp summed it up back in 2005.

So what’s it all about?

“They’re suing you so that they can issue a press release that they’re suing you. It is simply playing to the cheap seats and it has nothing to do with actual damages, it’s all about public relations and trying to change the behavior of - the last I heard - something like 50 million people.” And in 2009, 50 million isn’t even a drop in the file-sharing bucket.

‘I dont trust the legal system’

But Patti didn’t fold.

Instead, she became a symbol of defiance for other mothers, such as Tanya Andersen, who’d also been singled out for a special solution, but who’s now known around the world as the woman who took the RIAA on and won. She has no hesitation in saying she was inspired by Patti.

“Her's case was the one that got me going,” Tanya said. “When the RIAA came after me, I didn’t know anything and it was only by reading about Patti that I was able to get any information".

“She stood up against them and made other people understand they could do the same.”

The fake suit against her was eventually dropped, enabling RIAA bosses Mitch Bainwol and Cary Sherman to turn their sights on two of Patti’s children, Michelle and Bobby.

“If a court approves settlement terms agreed to by both parties, the case will be concluded and the two can get on with their lives,” p2pnet said yesterday, adding:

” ‘However, the Court’s approval is required, so it would be incorrect to say this is a done deal,’ says their lawyer, Jordan Glass. ‘The Court may still reject an agreement for any number of reasons, such as the amount of time being requested to complete an agreement since it stays open on the Court’s docket for longer than perhaps desirable. But the parties are hopeful’.”

“p2pnet readers contributed $15,000 to help Patti, and Glass, who’s been acting for her and her children pro bono, says he wouldn’t have been able to continue without the donations, which were used to cover disbursemenst and expenses.

Only if you can withstand the financial burden and emotional strain’

The RIAA has dropped its claim against Michelle and Bobby from almost $80,000 to $7,000, as p2pnet first revealed. That looks almost like a victory, of a kind. But is it?

No, Patti told me. “I wish I could consider this a win but I can’t,” she said, going on:

It’s just for my children. They need to get on with their lives without this lawsuit hanging over their heads.

Four years ago I told the court that they did nothing wrong and I still believe that.

It seems as though my children would have been better off if they’d been accused of a crime in our country’s criminal court. At the very least they would then have been assured a fair trial regardless of their ability to pay for one.

Our country should amend the 7th Amendment of our Constitution to include the words “Only if you can withstand the financial burden and emotional strain” do you preserve the right to a Trial by Jury in a Common Law Suit!

The recording industry has been well aware for many years that this charade of lawsuits used only as some warped ‘Educational Campaign’ would never have survived in a criminal court system.

This group of lobbyists have no morals whatsoever to be suing children when during their legal battle with Kazza and Grokster, the RIAA called these same unknowing children VICTIMS!

It amazes me how they can turn it all around to suit themselves.

They warned all the BIG SHOTS about Kazaa when they found it on company computers. They warned the GOVERNMENT when they found it on their computers!

But what about we, the people?

We didn’t get an advanced warning. We received a lawsuit.

It’s a tragedy that the courts could not recognize the RIAA abuse of our Legal System.

To all of you that are still fighting these ridiculous lawsuits, U applaud your strength.

The Associated Press picked the story up quoting Glass as saying the industry “didn’t expect someone like Patti to fight back". “She was up against billions of dollars of corporate power. They had the money, they had the legal intellect, they had the experience, they had everything.

“She had nothing.”

The story has RIAA spinstress Cara Duckworth (right) saying in a mealy mouthed statement: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Santangelos”. No doubt. They’ll have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyer fees, “investigations” by the likes of disgraced MediaSentry, disbursements, paralegal fees, and so on.

AP has the RIAA saying Michelle, “had admitted piracy in a deposition and that Robert had been implicated by a family friend. They denied wrongdoing.” However, it doesn’t mention that’s not what Michelle said, “and it is certainly not what she meant,” as Glass made it clear in a court submission.

“Of course, with RIAA’s counsel physically beating on the table, slamming down post-it notes with question after question … and scaring Michelle out of her seat, sending her crying from the room, she did not know which way was up for dozens of questions,” he stated.

“Under the terms of the settlement, filed in court in White Plains late Friday, the Santangelos will pay $7,000,” says AP. “They paid half the amount April 20 and are to make six payments of $583.33 by October.”

The story adds:

“Glass pointed out that the Santangelos never admitted wrongdoing, and that with both Santangelo children now in college, the settlement offer was accepted to control costs.

Stay tuned.


Jon Newton

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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