Tuesday, September 09, 2003

The RIAA Loses its' Mind

From the New York Post (alternatively, see Fox News) comes this charmer of a PR disaster in the making:

The music industry has turned its big legal guns on Internet music-swappers - including a 12-year-old Upper West Side girl who thought downloading songs was fun.

Brianna LaHara said she was frightened to learn she was among the hundreds of people sued yesterday by giant music companies in federal courts around the country.

"I got really scared. My stomach is all turning," Brianna said last night at the city Housing Authority apartment on West 84th Street where she lives with her mom and her 9-year-old brother.

"I thought it was OK to download music because my mom paid a service fee for it. Out of all people, why did they pick me?"

The Recording Industry Association of America - a music-industry lobbying group behind the lawsuits - couldn't answer that question.

"We are taking each individual on a case-by-case basis," said RIAA spokeswoman Amy Weiss.

Asked if the association knew Brianna was 12 when it decided to sue her, Weiss answered, "We don't have any personal information on any of the individuals."

Brianna's mom, Sylvia Torres, said the lawsuit was "a total shock."

"My daughter was on the verge of tears when she found out about this," Torres said.

The family signed up for the Kazaa music-swapping service three months ago, and paid a $29.99 service charge.

Usually, they listen to songs without recording them. "There's a lot of music there, but we just listen to it and let it go," Torres said.

When reporters visited Brianna's home last night, she was helping her brother with his homework.

Her mom said Brianna's an honors student at St. Gregory the Great, a Catholic school on West 90th Street.

Brianna was among 261 people sued for copying thousands of songs via popular Internet file-sharing software - and thousands more suits could be on the way.

"Nobody likes playing the heavy and having to resort to litigation," said Cary Sherman, the RIAA's president. "But when your product is being regularly stolen, there comes a time when you have to take appropriate action."

What a bunch of heavy-handed dullards! Have they considered it possible that if they'd offered music-on-demand services of their own years ago, none of this might have happened? It hardly took a genius to see where the music industry's future would be going - I saw it clearly enough as far back as 1997.