Monday, September 10, 2007

One at a time (part 2)

An Oregon woman is suing the RIAA:

A disabled single mother from Beaverton has filed a federal lawsuit against the Recording Industry Association of America, claiming that she is the victim of abusive legal tactics, threats and illegal spying as part of an overzealous campaign to crack down on music pirating.

The recording industry sued Tanya J. Andersen, 44, in 2005, accusing her of violating copyright laws by illegally downloading music onto her computer. Andersen claims in a suit she filed last week in U.S. District Court in Oregon that the recording industry refused to drop its case after its own expert supported her claims of innocence.

This is exactly the sort of case that those in the "copyright consensus" -- the portfolio of corporate interests who since the advent of the "digital age" have been busily pushing for more and more egregious copyright laws -- assume they will never have to face.

And with good reason. What kind of personal threshold must one have crossed (or have been pushed over) in order to be willing to take on one of these behemoths? One only has to notice that when things flow in the other direction -- e.g., when an individual or a small company (such as an indie label, or a community orchestra) is sued by a multinational corporation like Disney -- it almost doesn’t matter whether the “little guy” has a good legal case. In fact, it almost doesn’t matter what the law actually says. The only “known” in such a situation is the guarantee of exorbitant legal fees. The actual outcome is up for grabs, thanks to an erratic judiciary and the new, untested quality of the laws (some of which, it should be noted, are fairly ambiguously worded).

The worst case scenario involves financial ruin (legal fees plus tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines) and the possibility of jail time. No wonder nobody wants to be the guinea pig.

Until now, anyway. What can I say? The lady has a lot of guts, and I wish her the best.

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