[Politech] RIAA apparently screws up, sues wrong person in P2P suits [ip]

From: Declan McCullagh (declan@private)
Date: Wed Sep 24 2003 - 07:04:37 PDT

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    Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 09:09:29 -0400
    From: David Stephenson <D.Stephenson@private>
    Organization: Stephenson Strategies
    To: Declan McCullagh <declan@private>
    Subject: major RIAA screw-up, but no apology...
    A total screw-up by RIAA, but they can't quite bring themselves to 
    admitting a major mistake....
    --W. David Stephenson
    From: "Hal Bringman" <hal@private>
    To: "Declan McCullagh" <declan@private>
    Subject: Mistaken identity raises questions on legal strategy
    Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2003 06:16:20 -0700
    Recording industry withdraws suit
    Mistaken identity raises questions on legal strategy
    By Chris Gaither, Globe Staff, 9/24/2003
    The recording industry has withdrawn a lawsuit against a Newbury woman
    because it falsely accused her of illegally sharing music -- possibly the
    first case of mistaken identity in the battle against Internet file-traders.
    Privacy advocates said the suit against Sarah Seabury Ward, a sculptor who
    said she has never downloaded or digitally shared a song, revealed flaws in
    the Recording Industry Association of America's legal strategy. Ward was
    caught up in a flood of 261 lawsuits filed two weeks ago that targeted
    people who, through software programs like Kazaa, make copyrighted songs
    available for others to download over the Internet.
    ''When the RIAA announced they were going on this litigation crusade, we
    knew there was going to be someone like Sarah Ward,'' said Cindy Cohn, legal
    director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet privacy group
    in San Francisco that has advised Ward and others sued by the music
    industry. ''And we think were will be more.''
    The lawsuit claimed that Ward had illegally shared more than 2,000 songs
    through Kazaa and threatened to hold her liable for up to $150,000 for each
    song. The plaintiffs were Sony Music, BMG, Virgin, Interscope, Atlantic,
    Warner Brothers, and Arista.
    Among the songs she was accused of sharing: ''I'm a Thug,'' by the rapper
    Trick Daddy.
    But Ward, 66, is a ''computer neophyte'' who never installed file-sharing
    software, let alone downloaded hard-core rap about baggy jeans and gold
    teeth, according to letters sent to the recording industry's agents by her
    lawyer, Jeffrey Beeler.
    Other defendants have blamed their children for using file-sharing software,
    but Ward has no children living with her, Beeler said.
    Moreover, Ward uses a Macintosh computer at home. Kazaa runs only on
    Windows-based personal computers.
    Beeler complained to the RIAA, demanding an apology and ''dismissal with
    prejudice'' of the lawsuit, which would prohibit future lawsuits against
    her. Foley Hoag, the Boston firm representing the record labels, on Friday
    dropped the case, but without prejudice.
    ''Please note, however, that we will continue our review of the issues you
    raised and we reserve the right to refile the complaint against Mrs. Ward if
    and when circumstances warrant,'' Colin J. Zick, the Foley Hoag lawyer,
    wrote to Beeler.
    The trade group released Zick's letter late yesterday and said it would have
    no other comment.
    Chris Gaither can be reached at gaither@private Hiawatha Bray of the
    Globe staff contributed to this report.
    This story ran on page C1 of the Boston Globe on 9/24/2003.
    best, hal
    Hal Bringman
    P: + 1.310.659.1060, ext 111#  (<--- PLEASE NOTE NEW NUMBER/EXTENSION)
    E: hal@private
    AIM: hbringman
    MSN: halbringman
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