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  • Lawsuit against the RIAA

    A friend sent me this today...I found it interesting, it may write a new chapter in computer law.

    Oregon RIAA Victim Fights Back; Sues RIAA for Electronic Trespass, Violations of Computer Fraud & Abuse, Invasion of Privacy, RICO, Fraud
    ATLANTIC V. ANDERSEN

    This is the case peer-to-peer file sharers have been waiting for. Tanya Andersen, a 41 year old disabled single mother living in Oregon, has countersued the RIAA for Oregon RICO violations, fraud, invasion of privacy, abuse of process, electronic trespass, violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, negligent misrepresentation, the tort of "outrage", and deceptive business practices.

    Ms. Andersen's counterclaims demand a trial by jury.

    Ms. Andersen made the following allegations, among others:


    1. For a number of years, a group of large, multinational, multi-billion dollar record companies, including these plaintiffs, have been abusing the federal court judicial
    system for the purpose of waging a public relations and public threat campaign targeting digital file sharing activities. As part of this campaign, these record companies retained MediaSentry to invade private home computers and collect personal information. Based on private information allegedly extracted from these personal home computers, the record companies have reportedly filed lawsuits against more than 13,500 anonymous “John Does.”
    2. The anonymous “John Doe” lawsuits are filed for the sole purpose of information farming and specifically to harvest personal internet protocol addresses from internet service providers.

    3. After an individual’s personal information is harvested, it is given to the record companies’ representatives and the anonymous “John Doe” information farming suits are then typically dismissed.

    4. The record companies provide the personal information to Settlement Support Center, which engages in prohibited and deceptive debt collection activities and other illegal conduct to extract money from the people allegedly identified from the secret lawsuits. Most of the people subjected to these secret suits do not learn that they have been “sued” until demand is made for payment by the record companies’ lawyers or Settlement Support Center.....

    5. Tanya Andersen is a 42-year-old single mother of an eight-year-old daughter living in Tualatin, Oregon. Ms. Andersen is disabled and has a limited income from Social Security.

    6. Ms. Andersen has never downloaded or distributed music online. She has not infringed on any of plaintiffs’ alleged copyrighted interest.....

    7. Ms. Andersen has, however, been the victim of the record companies’ public threat campaign. The threats started when the record companies falsely claimed that Ms. Andersen had been an “unnamed” defendant who was being sued in federal court in the District of Columbia. She was never named in that lawsuit and never received service of a summons and complaint.

    8. Neither did Ms. Andersen receive any timely notice that the suit even existed. That anonymous suit was filed in mid-2004. Ms. Andersen first learned that she was being “sued” when she received a letter dated February 2, 2005, from the Los Angeles, California, law firm Mitchell Silverberg & Knupp, LLP. The LA firm falsely claimed that Ms. Andersen had downloaded music, infringed undisclosed copyrights and owed hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ms. Andersen was understandably shocked, fearful, and upset. ....

    9. After receiving the February 2, 2005 letter, Ms. Andersen contacted the record companies’ “representative,” which turned out to be Settlement Support Center, LLC. This company was formed by the record companies for the sole purpose of coercing payments from people who had been identified as targets in the anonymous information farming suits. Settlement Support Center is a Washington State phone solicitation company which engages in debt collection activities across the country.

    10. When Ms. Andersen contacted Settlement Support Center, she was advised that her personal home computer had been secretly entered by the record companies’ agents, MediaSentry.


    11. Settlement Support Center also falsely claimed that Ms. Andersen had “been viewed” by MediaSentry downloading “gangster rap” music at 4:24 a.m. Settlement Support Center also falsely claimed that Ms. Andersen had used the login name “gotenkito@kazaa.com.” Ms. Andersen does not like “gangster rap,” does not recognize the name “gotenkito,” is not awake at 4:24 a.m. and has never downloaded music.

    12. Settlement Support Center threatened that if Ms. Andersen did not immediately pay them, the record companies would bring an expensive and disruptive federal lawsuit using her actual name and they would get a judgment for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

    13. Ms. Andersen explained to Settlement Support Center that she had never downloaded music, she had no interest in “gangster rap,” and that she had no idea who “gotenkito” was.

    14. Ms. Andersen wrote Settlement Support Center and even asked it to inspect her computer to prove that the claims made against her were false.

    15. An employee of Settlement Support Center admitted to Ms. Andersen that he believed that she had not downloaded any music. He explained, however, that Settlement Support Center and the record companies would not quit their debt collection activities because to do so would encourage other people to defend themselves against the record companies’ claims.

    16. Instead of investigating, the record company plaintiffs filed suit this against Ms. Andersen. F. The Record Companies have no Proof of Infringement.

    17. Despite making false representations to Ms. Andersen that they had evidence of infringement .... plaintiffs knew that they had no factual support for their claims.

    18. No downloading or distribution activity was ever actually observed. None ever occurred. Regardless, the record companies actively continued their coercive and deceptive debt collection actions against her. Ms. Andersen was falsely, recklessly, shamefully, and publicly accused of illegal activities in which she was never involved.

    Ms. Andersen further alleged:

    20. Entering a person’s personal computer without their authorization to snoop around, steal information, or remove files is a violation of the common law prohibition against trespass to chattels.

    21. The record company plaintiffs employed MediaSentry as their agent to break into Ms. Andersen’s personal computer (and those of tens of thousands of other people) to secretly spy on and steal information or remove files. MediaSentry did not have Ms. Andersen’s permission to inspect, copy, or remove private computer files. If MediaSentry accessed her private computer, it did so illegally and secretly. In fact, Ms. Andersen was unaware that the trespass occurred until well after she was anonymously sued.

    22. According to the record companies, the agent, Settlement Support Center used the stolen private information allegedly removed from her home computer in their attempt to threaten and coerce Ms. Anderson into paying thousands of dollars. ....

    Under the provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (18 U.S.C. § 1030) it is illegal to break into another person’s private computer to spy, steal or remove private information, damage property, or cause other harm.

    26. Ms. Andersen regularly used her personal computer to communicate with friends and family across the country and for interstate e-commerce. Ms. Andersen had password protection and security in place to protect her computer and personal files from access by others.

    27. The record company plaintiffs employed MediaSentry as their agent to bypass Ms. Andersen’s computer security systems and break into her personal computer to secretly spy and steal or remove private information. MediaSentry did not have her permission to inspect, copy, or remove her private computer files. It gained access secretly and illegally.

    28. According to the record companies’ agent, Settlement Support Center, used this stolen private information in their attempt to threaten and coerce Ms. Andersen into paying thousands of dollars. ....

    31. According to the record companies, Ms. Andersen’s personal computer was invaded by MediaSentry after she was identified with a nine digit code (an Internet Protocol Address (“IPA”)) obtained from the anonymous information farming lawsuits. MediaSentry did not have permission to inspect Ms. Andersen’s private computer files. It gained access only by illegal acts of subterfuge.

    32. The record companies’ agent has falsely represented that information obtained in this invasive and secret manner is proof of Ms. Andersen’s alleged downloading. Ms. Andersen never downloaded music but has been subjected to public derision and embarrassment associated with plaintiffs’ claims and public relations campaign.

    33. The record companies have used this derogatory, harmful information to recklessly and shamefully publicly accuse Ms. Andersen of illegal activities without even taking the opportunity offered by Ms. Andersen to inspect her computer. .....

    36. Despite knowing that infringing activity was not observed, the record companies used the threat of expensive and intrusive litigation as a tool to coerce Ms. Andersen to pay many thousands of dollars for an obligation she did not owe. The record companies pursued their collection activities and this lawsuit for the primary purpose of threatening Ms. Andersen (and many others) as part of its public relations campaign targeting electronic file sharing.

    37. The record companies have falsely represented and pleaded that information obtained in this invasive and secret manner is proof of Ms. Andersen’s alleged downloading and distribution of copyrighted audio recordings. Ms. Andersen never downloaded music but has been subjected to public derision and embarrassment.....

    40. The record companies knowingly represented materially false information to Ms. Andersen in an attempt to extort money from her.

    41. For example, between February and March 2005, the record companies, through their collection agent Settlement Support Center, falsely claimed that they had proof that Ms. Andersen’s IPA had been “viewed” downloading and distributing over 1,000 audio files for which it sought to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars. This statement was materially false. Ms. Andersen never downloaded or distributed any audio files nor did the record companies or any of their agents ever observe any such activity associated with her personal home computer.....

    49. Despite having never observed any downloading or distribution associated with Ms. Andersen’s personal home computer and despite refusing Ms. Andersen’s offer to allow an inspection of her own computer, the record companies wrongfully continued their improper debt collection activities against her.....

    50. The record companies pursued debt collection activities for the inappropriate purpose of illegally threatening Ms. Andersen and many thousands of others. This tortious abuse was motivated by and was a central part of a public relations campaign targeting electronic file sharing.

    51. An employee of Settlement Support Center admitted to Ms. Andersen that he believed that she had not downloaded any music. He explained that Settlement Support Center and the record companies would not quit the debt collection activity against her because to do so would encourage other people to defend themselves against the record companies’ claims.

    52. The record companies were aware of Ms. Andersen’s disabilities and her serious health issues. Settlement Support Center knew that its conduct would cause extreme distress in Ms. Andersen. As a result of defendant’s conduct, Ms. Andersen suffered severe physical and emotional distress and health problems.

    53. The record companies’ conduct resulted in damages, including harm to Ms. Andersen’s health and property in an amount to be specifically proven at trial......

    55. Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act prohibits those in trade or commerce from engaging in unfair or deceptive practices in the course of business with consumers. ORS 646.605 et seq.

    56. The record companies’ agent, Settlement Support Center, is a company doing business in Washington which was established to engage in debt collection activities in manystates, including Washington and Oregon.

    57. Settlement Support Center acting as the record companies’ agent made false and deceptive statements to Ms. Andersen in an attempt to mislead, threaten, and coerce her into paying thousands of dollars.

    58. Settlement Support Center acting as the record companies’ agent has made similar false and deceptive statements to many other residents of Washington and Oregon, and across the country. The public interest has been and continues to be directly impacted by plaintiffs’ deceptive practices.

    59. The record companies’ conduct resulted in damages and harm to Ms. Andersen and her property in an amount to be specifically proven at trial. ....

    61. The Oregon Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act prohibits companies from engaging in organized racketeering or criminal activities. ORS 166.715 et seq.

    62. As fully set forth above, the record companies hired MediaSentry to break into private computers to spy, view files, remove information, and copy images. The record companies received and transmitted the information and images to Settlement Support Center. As the record companies’ agent, Settlement Support Center then falsely claimed that the stolen information and images showed Ms. Andersen’s downloading and distributing over 1,000 audio files. The record companies falsely claimed that Ms. Anderson owed hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to coerce and extort payment from her.

    63. The record companies directed its agents to unlawfully break into private computers and engage in extreme acts of unlawful coercion, extortion, fraud, and other criminal conduct.

    64. The record companies and their agents stood to financially benefit from these deceptive and unlawful acts. Proceeds from these activities are used to fund the operation of the record companies’ continued public threat campaigns.

    65. These unlawful activities were not isolated. The record companies have repeated these unlawful and deceptive actions with many other victims throughout the United States.
    I enjoy talking to myself...it's usually the only intelligent conversations I get to have.

  • #2
    If I reply to a RIAA subpoena but make my response in a song, will they have to pay me royalties every time they play it? Would they be able to send the song to other departments within the RIAA or would that be piracy?

    Comment


    • #3
      Here's a thought, though that one is funny.

      Ok, the local library has many books there, as well as music and videos, that is considered legal sharing of information.

      People all the time copy music or videos for private use from the library as well as copy pages of books for all sorts of matters.

      That being said, why are book companies not sueing people for the books coppied? Why are not movie companies suing people for copying movies for personal use?
      Why are music companies not suing people for copying songs from the library?

      Following this train of thought, is not the internet just one large library, information-wise? I, personally, do not see a problem in building up a collection of MP3 because you only like 1 song on the album, and here is why.

      The music production company sells CDs. A person bought that CD. They are sharing the music on the CD, in kindergarden children are taught to share, but when they become adults it becomes a crime. Just plain sick. Songs are nothing more than information, same as a book. Information in the form of entertainment.

      Now, I understand that people need to make money...and I further understand that CDs do that for many groups. Concerts are also a way to make money....and the honest truth is, that if the songs are shareable, then more people will purchase the CDs. Furthermore, more people will attend the concerts. Many people no longer listen to the radio because they have XM or CDs in their vehicle. This is the perfect venue for advertisement.....and it costs hella lot less than tv ads and billboards.
      -Ridirich

      "When you're called upon to do anything, and you're not ready to do it, then you've failed."

      Commander W.H. Hamilton

      Comment


      • #4
        IBM filed a countersuit against SCO on the same basic grounds as in this womans suit although the details are obviously different.
        Did Everquest teach you that?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Ridirich
          That being said, why are book companies not sueing people for the books coppied?
          Don't give them any ideas..

          Originally posted by Ridirich
          Why are not movie companies suing people for copying movies for personal use?
          They aren't?
          - Programmer -

          Comment


          • #6
            When I said that, I was referring to coppies made in the library. I was not talking about online downloads, please read it in context.
            -Ridirich

            "When you're called upon to do anything, and you're not ready to do it, then you've failed."

            Commander W.H. Hamilton

            Comment


            • #7
              I have to agree with Ridirich. I doubt that there are very many people who own VCR's who haven't copied a movie or own cassette recorders who have not made copies from the radio or borrowed a tape off a friend to make a copy. I don't see the record industry or the movie industry suing those people. They would have to sue about half the people in the US. Downloading music, movies, or audio books from the internet is no different. If the technology to do so is illegal then it shouldn't be manufatured for distribution to the public. DVD/CD burners are used as a selling point with most stock brands of computers, it makes no sense that Sony would manufacture a DVD burner or CD burner for public use and then Sony-BGM Music would want to sue people for using the equipment.
              I enjoy talking to myself...it's usually the only intelligent conversations I get to have.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Ridirich
                When I said that, I was referring to coppies made in the library. I was not talking about online downloads, please read it in context.
                I've just never seen someone "copy" a video in a library, so I thought you were referring to other devices.
                - Programmer -

                Comment


                • #9
                  Its all about the ease of catching people.. I remember when the dual cassette recorders came out.. and then along came "high speed dubbing". They had no control over who copied what.. But with the internet it becomes easy to see who is copying what.

                  Its like traffic violations, theres only so many police.. they let people who are going 3,5,8 miles over the speed limit go. They wait to catch the big speeders.
                  But once an electronic system is implemented, and a camera snaps a license plate number and mails out a ticket.. Whats to stop you from being ticketed for 1mph over? its no longer an issue of man power, or time.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by d3ad1ysp0rk
                    I've just never seen someone "copy" a video in a library, so I thought you were referring to other devices.
                    Some libraries even have media areas set up with VCR recorders, you play the library tape in one, and record it onto the other. I belive that particular setup is for educational tapes etc.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Perfect example: All of us remember when Napster was free, right? The originator of Napster only wanted music to be transfered over his P2P network. MP3 format only.

                      He even said in a statement to the press, if I recall, back when Metallica was making such an uproar, that all he wanted to do was start an online music sharing community, and he was inspired on day in his college library to do this, by all the media he had access to, to copy, and many people who were online did not have access to such a facility. He chose the name "Napster" because his college nickname was "Nappy".

                      Anyone remember something simular to that?

                      Yes, libraries have setups(in some branches, and usually it's the main ones) with a VCR and a VCP set up, so that educational takes can be copied. They have a few reasons for this.

                      1) Underfunding for some branches. The tapes in point may be costly, and making copies is much more inexpensive.

                      2) Hard-to-obtain tapes. They copy the original, keep it locked away and use the copy for the public.

                      3) Schools or other educational venues. They need a take for a class project, or such and due to the length of time needed to keep it, it would not be feasable to allow them to barrow it from the library, so a copy is made.

                      There are probably more reasons I am unaware of as well. I have seen a woman copy a children's movie(some cartoon) in a library and take it home.

                      I have also seen libraries that had records(those old vinyl "cd's".....) with a cassette recorder connected, and they charged a dollar something per cassette, and you could copy the record. I have also seen the same with cassette to cassette and cd to cassette. Right there in the library. Not to mention that the staff does not discourage it.

                      Same thing with video rental places. You rent the dvd or tape. What's to stop you from making an image of the dvd on your laptop and burning it so you have your own copy or copying a vhs right at home? I have never done it personally, but I am sure you see my point.

                      Floyd's exactly right. Major manufacturers use the cdrom as a selling point. Watch computer commercials some time, or hell, even go to the home shopping network and look at the computer sales. You will one of two things being the selling point. Either the monitor or the cd burner, especially if it's a dvd-burner. Furthermore, many of them, especially Gateway and Dell, include MP3 downloading software! Tell me that is not a mixed message. When I bought my compaq laptop, I had to clean up the crap on it, and do you know what I found? MP3 software to download 100 for free off the internet.

                      How the hell is the RIAA supposed to know who paid to download and who didn't? The point is that they are being stupid, and most definitly breaking the law to get their way. They installed trojans on many people's computers and downloaded, illegally, information off those computers.

                      Adware, spyware, "secret programs to assist in marketing", keyloggers with a feedback protocol, MediaSentry, MagicLantern....I don't care what you want to call it. It's a trojan and a violation of my, and everyone else's civil rights. It's an invasion of privacy at the very least...and theft of information (IE credit card numbers, people's browsing habits, people's personal pictures they thought were "safe" on their computers...) and you know very well that if any "normal" person, as in a middleclass or below person, put out these trojans we would serve jail time, but let a business do it, and all of a sudden it becomes "Ok." Are you aware that Gator, Claria or whatever the hell they want to call themselves are suing anti-spyware sites and programmers who make adware removal programs? Gee, I wonder why that is. What concerns me more is HOW they are winning. Makes no realistic sense.
                      -Ridirich

                      "When you're called upon to do anything, and you're not ready to do it, then you've failed."

                      Commander W.H. Hamilton

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Here's a link to the actual answer and counterclaim ..
                        Last edited by jur1st; October 4, 2005, 14:18.
                        jur1st, esq.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Ridirich
                          ...
                          1) Underfunding for some branches. The tapes in point may be costly, and making copies is much more inexpensive.
                          Isn't that the same as saying you are too broke to be able to afford all the music you want? So can I declare myself a library and be exempt too?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by astcell
                            Isn't that the same as saying you are too broke to be able to afford all the music you want? So can I declare myself a library and be exempt too?
                            Thing is, nobody's mentioned that there are laws covering how much you can and can't copy. Most school and public libraries will even have a disclaimer to this effect attached somewhere to any equipment intended for public duplication use - look closely at the copiers sometime; it's usually there if nowhere else.

                            Fair use doctrine basically sets some intentionally loosely-defined limits on what can and can't be copied, based mainly on the reasonable man's definition of where copying would move from obtaining critical information to outright piracy. A few pages from a textbook needed for writing a thesis? Not piracy. Duplication of an entire novel? Piracy. Think back to the sampling argument of about 15 years ago or so - any artist that sampled another's work to use in their own was essentially stealing the entire source work - that is, until the courts ruled that recycling small bits of another work weren't necessarily the same as copying it outright.

                            Where this all started becoming an issue was when it was possible to easily and cheaply make a direct digital-to-digital copy (i.e., CD to CD, CD to MP3, DVD to MPEG, etc.) and then distribute it. And quite honestly, I'm kinda torn on this one. While I believe that people should be able to freely access the music, video, and text that they want, I also believe that the content publisher should have a right to choose the model under which it's made available.

                            As an example, my family make their living being published in print; someone copying a few pages for whatever reason aren't a problem. But when 50,000 copies of a book are translated into Russian or Chinese (as has happened) and are sold without so much as a single penny going back to them, it's a complete misuse of their work. While it's nice to know that people evidently care enough to go to the effort to translate, print, and distribute the work, when they do so without *paying* them for that work it's less food on the table.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I see the issue in the Andersen case as being the "information farming", wouldn't that be tantamount to eaves-dropping on someone's telephone conversations? It contitutes an invasion of privacy. One should have the expected right of privacy in one's own home. By their own admission the RIAA employed a third party to illegally search the files in Ms. Andersens' password protected computer. I wonder how much other information was harvested besides her taste in music. Does the RIAA now have access to her banking records, medical records, credit card information, and all the other files that she thought were secure in the sanctity of her own home? Billions of dollars worth of commerce are transacted daily on the internet, are these transactions also monitored by groups such as the RIAA? I think that their willful disregard for the law is a red flag to the entire cyber community. True, there are music and video pirates out there, but do the ends justify the means? Are we all under the watchful eye of big brother?

                              Just my 2 cents...
                              I enjoy talking to myself...it's usually the only intelligent conversations I get to have.

                              Comment

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