Thursday, February 19, 2004

News Story

RIAA sued under RICO Act: News:- A new Jersey woman has finally figured it out.

The RIAA is run by a bunch of crooks.

OK - you knew that all along. But unlike you, Michele Scimeca - among the hundreds of people victimized in the RIAA's (Recording Industry Association of America) on-going sue 'em all campaign - is doing something about it.

She's suing the Big Music 'trade' organ under the RICO (Racketeering Influenced & Corrupt Organizations) Act enacted in 1970 to prosecute organized crime and help victims seek compensation.

Scimeca, from Rockaway Township in New Jersey, was "targeted for her teenager's school research project," says a Star-Ledger story here.

However, the record labels are using "scare tactics (that) amount to extortion" in efforts to extract settlements, Scimeca alleges in legal papers sent to the US District Court in Newark.

"They're banding together to extort money, telling people they're guilty and they will have to pay big bucks to defend their cases if they don't pony up now. It is fundamentally not fair," Scimeca's lawyer, Bart Lombardo, is quoted as saying in the Star-Ledger report.

And Lombardo himself "occasionally downloads songs for personal use and sees nothing wrong with that," the story says, continuing:

"The counterclaim seeks unspecified damages from Sony Music Entertainment Inc., UMG Recordings Inc. and Motown Record Co. L.P. Their lawyers in Los Angeles referred requests for comment to the Recording Industry Association of America. 'We stand by our claims,' the RIAA said in a prepared statement."

Scimeca's case appears to be the first use of federal racketeering laws in the music copyright wars, Cindy Cohn, legal director for the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) says, and, "It strikes me as a very innovative use of the law," observes Gregory Mark, a law professor at the Rutgers School of Law-Newark. "Very innovative."

In December, the labels produced 41 pages of copyrighted songs from Pearl Jam, Korn, Godsmack and other artists, which they said were offered for illegal swapping over the KaZaA network by "DrEeMeR" - the screen name used by Scimeca's 13-year-old daughter, a high school freshman, for a school project," states the Star-Ledger, going on:

"But the family's Optimum Online Internet account was registered to the mother, whose name was handed over by Cablevision. An unrelated court ruling recently made such information harder for labels to obtain. So now they are filing John Doe lawsuits based on Internet addresses.

Scimeca said at the time that she and her husband couldn't afford copyright penalties of up to $150,000 per song.

"Ignorance of the law is not a defense," admonished the notice she got from the labels' lawyers, who added that Scimeca's liability was clear and she should consider settling.

(Wednesday 18th February 2004)