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 shed 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, youll be looking at staggering damages, plus their attorneys fees, which will be equally out of sight. But as weve 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 isnt suing you for damages, thats not what theyre doing here, lawyer-cum-musician Paul Rapp summed it up back in 2005.
So whats it all about?
Theyre suing you so that they can issue a press release that theyre suing you. It is simply playing to the cheap seats and it has nothing to do with actual damages, its 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 isnt even a drop in the file-sharing bucket.
I dont trust the legal system
But Patti didnt fold.
Instead, she became a symbol of defiance for other mothers, such as Tanya Andersen, whod also been singled out for a special solution, but whos 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 didnt 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 Pattis 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 Courts 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 Courts docket for longer than perhaps desirable. But the parties are hopeful.
p2pnet readers contributed $15,000 to help Patti, and Glass, whos been acting for her and her children pro bono, says he wouldnt 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 cant, she said, going on:
The Associated Press picked the story up quoting Glass as saying the industry didnt 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. Theyll 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 doesnt mention thats not what Michelle said, and it is certainly not what she meant, as Glass made it clear in a court submission.
Of course, with RIAAs 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.
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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