RIAA Drops Case It Can't Make Against Mom After Bleeding Her Dry — Focuses On Suing Kids

from the drive-your-customers-to-bankruptcy dept

Few of the RIAA’s estimated 20,000 lawsuits against file traders have seen the inside of a courtroom, as the majority of users, fearing legal fees or a loss, settle out of court. The RIAA of course anticipates this, so many of their cases consist of little more than an IP address, which as we’ve discussed frequently isn’t specific evidence of individual guilt. This half-assed discovery process has led to a number of suits being dropped, and it caused the RIAA some PR grief last summer when they decided to sue a PC-illiterate Long Island mother of five for sharing music. Already $24,000 in debt before her trial even began, Patricia Santangelo became an Internet celebrity of sorts by deciding to actually fight the record industry. Her story gained traction when she lost her first lawyer and proclaimed she’d fight the RIAA by herself — leading to a flurry of legal donations from RIAA-loathing groups and individuals the world over. Last summer we wondered if the RIAA would eventually cut their losses in this case and run; instead they began investigating her children, ultimately filing suit against the kids after getting the daughter and a neighbor to admit to using Kazaa under oath.

Today the RIAA dropped the lawsuit against Santangelo herself, though Santangelo’s first lawyer Ray Beckerman confirms for us the suit against her children now moves forward — after her first battle drained the family coffers. Obviously forcing cash-strapped American moms to pony up tens of thousands of dollars to force the industry to do their homework is absurd, and as we’ve noted there’s no real punishment for when the RIAA screws up. Even better, the RIAA is trying to have this case dropped in such a way that they won’t be held financially liable (despite basically admitting they sued the wrong person), and so the door’s held open in case they want to sue Santangelo for the same thing down the road. Of course it’s important to remember it’s perfectly fine to share music illegally if your father is a wealthy music industry executive.

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Comments on “RIAA Drops Case It Can't Make Against Mom After Bleeding Her Dry — Focuses On Suing Kids”

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fuc em says:

Re: horse shit

I stopped buying albums when they launched the first law suite.
I have no intention of purchasing anything from such a corporation. We know what they are. Dog’s.
Sales when up when they said they were loosing money. Lie. Lost sales on estimated downloads. Not how any corporation should be allowed to conduct it’s self. I have purchased over 400 albums. Never again. I have not purchased anything new and refuse 2. You ‘RIAA’ have truly lost me. Fuc u and your bullish actions. I do not believe many of the artists truly support your actions. Lets see a signature list. Lets see who you are truly representing.
People Fuc em dont buy their shit. Wait for artists to sell their own product. Then support them.

watch TV Online (user link) says:

Re: Re:

To be honest, the lady kinda deserved it. I mean she kept changing her story so many times, she’s not like the average p2p user because this lady initially lied and said she didn’t own a computer.

Then she went back and said I own a computer, but what I meant was that I don’t know how to use it. It was later found out that her children downloaded the music, and when asked about that she denied it – only to later on admit that she had lied. I mean I can see what she was trying to do, but she gives other users a bad name and case.

I think the RIAA is going too far, but honestly I don’t really care for Patti – she’s messed up so much and she’s making it more difficult for other RIAA victims to put forth a comprehensible case.

MR_Tune the idiot says:

Re: Re: Riaa

Hey MrTune, shut your mouth up you damn redneck. Why don’t you go to the movies and stop sitting here reading posts of people who are anti-RIAA. Your an idiot to be in here when 95% of us don’t appreciate the RIAA bullying us. Its just like hanging out with people who like drugs, but you don’t like drugs.

Pity says:


Are you kidding me? They are no way near as harsh, evil or as crooked as the RIAA. All those guys are greedy fat cats, taking every single penny no matter where it comes from. I feel for you guys in the States, you have it worse than everyone. They even had the nerve to threated to shut down the internet because of a case. Are they evil malicious bastards or are they just stupid? Both are more likely

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

hah musicians barely see a dime if someone buys their cd, the labels take all of it, thats why artists are dependant on concerts and the mechandise they sell at them as well.So dont go cryin about the multimillionaire rappers and the old guard labels, Id rather support musicians by going to live shows and if theyre good, buy a t-shirt and a cd etc

kweeket says:

Re: Re:

Where is asserted anywhere in the article (or summary) that it’s okay to “steal music if you are a mom and $24K in debt”? The RIAA sued this woman for ALLEGEDLY committing copyright infringement. There was not enough evidence to convict her, therefore the lawsuit was dropped.

The issue here is how it seems that the RIAA can file as many friviolous lawsuits as they want, with no repercussions. On the contrary, these lawsuits are basically free money, since with legal costs being what they are, most people just pay up to avoid the greater court costs – even if they ARE innocent. I believe there is a term for that: “extortion”.

You think it’s okay that the RIAA is suing as many people as possible, knowing that if they cast their net widely enough they’re bound to catch a few pirates? That’s like saying we should imprision random people to bring down the crime rate, since statistically at least a few of those random people are potential criminals. Is that really the kind of society you want to be a part of?

Chris Taylor (profile) says:

Re: Re:

First no theft is occuring (unless she swiped some cd’s from walmart ??) if ANYTHING is occuring its copyright infringement which is NOT THEFT. Period end of discussion.

Second sometimes you have to break the rules when the bad guys are making the rules. Consider this. the founding father’s of this country openly and admittedly commited high TREASON to form this country an act punishable by DEATH under british law and STILL punishable by death under current UNITED STATES LAW.

Yet it was ok ? when the industry gets to right a law (the DMCA ring a bell?) Clearly showing the GOVERNMENT and COURTS (the last avenue of legal redress for citizens) have NO interest in siding or helping said citizens breaking the rules is all thats left.

TheDreaming (user link) says:

Re: Justice?

This has nothing to do with justice. This is about money. The RIAA and MPAA don’t even hold the copyrights that they sue over. They are a trade group! The best way to fight these groups is with your dollars. It’s simple, stop going to the theater and watch crappy movies. Don’t buy music from music artists that wouldn’t know real talent if it landed on their heads and started to wiggle! If it’s crap, don’t buy it! Don’t even pirate it! Crap is crap and when they see that no even a pirate will copy their crappy music/movie, they’ll be forced to make quality music/movies and then and only then will I pay.

Chris Taylor (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“This is why we need to adopt a “looser pays” system for ALL lawsuits filed in this country. It would not only cut down on frivolous suits that cost us ALL money, but would also make the RIAA/MPAA think twice before suing somebody.”

Alas it would not end frivilous lawsuits but simply end lawsuits by those that can not afford the chance of loosing. IE the only people that would sue are the ones that tends to sue now anyway (big corporations with deep pockets)

what it should be is if a CORPORATION sues and loses IT should have to pay.

Anonymous Coward says:

RIAA and MPAA can honestly go directly to hell. In terms of free downloads of music, people who make good music that speaks to people will not have anything to fear from the fall of the recording industry.

Gives power to those who have the musical ability and or insight, and kills off record label manufactured artists who do nothing for their genre.

Me says:


Why do stories about music and the RIAA bring out all the people that can’t form a proper sentence and tempt them to leave their spew?

Does anyone here realize how many words people are leaving out of their comments in their quest to expend less energy hitting little keys? It’s kind of pathetic.

Yeah, yeah, the RIAA sucks, they’re evil, blah blah. The kids admitted they used Kazaa under oath. She’s screwed. Next victim?

(Yeah, go on, hate me. You know I’m right. Damn pinkos.)

Chris Taylor (profile) says:

Re: sigh

Really ? so when I download that episode of DL.TV with a P2P client I am breaking the law ?

OH you thought using Kazaa was illegal ? How silly…

Knowing they used something is one thing knowing WHAT they used it for having the JURISDICTION over what they downloaded and proving they actually did do it are SO very different from “using kazaa”

Ray Beckerman (user link) says:

Attorneys fee award

It is unlikely that the Court will allow the dismissal of a case which has been hotly litigated for a year and a half to be “without prejudice”. If it is “with prejudice” Ms. Santangelo will be a prevailing party and eligible for an attorneys fees award. If she receives a substantial attorneys fee award, that will send out an important message.

anonymous says:

What if…
The legal system would benefit greatly if instead of having an offense and defense who’s goal were to WIN for their team, you should appoint a panel of “lawyers” to seek justice.
No offense or defense – a team to discover the facts and institute justice. Of course, the blood sucking lawyers will say such a system would never work.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

What if…
The legal system would benefit greatly if instead of having an offense and defense who’s goal were to WIN for their team, you should appoint a panel of “lawyers” to seek justice.
No offense or defense – a team to discover the facts and institute justice. Of course, the blood sucking lawyers will say such a system would never work.

The system you describe already exists in some places, but uses panels of judges instead of lawyers. The US style “adversarial” legal system is not universal, yet.

Communist China says:

American Culture Locked Out By IPR!

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been pressing states to enact new legislation aimed at criminalizing the possession of what they call “unlawful communication and access devices.” These measures represent an unprecedented attack on the rights of technologists, hobbyists, tinkerers and the public at large. In essence, these proposals would allow “communication service providers” to restrict what you can connect to your Internet connection or cable or satellite television lines. This legislation would all impose a new ban on the possession, development, or distribution of a broad array of “communication” and “unlawful access” devices, along with a ban on devices that enable anonymous communication. Another words, “All Things Not Expressly Permitted are Forbidden”.

If this s-DMCA legislation is passed where you live, it would illegal to connect a Wi-Fi wireless access point to your DSL line in order to share your broadband connection among several computers in your house. You would not be entitled to connect anything to your cable, satellite, or DSL line without the express permission of your service provider.

The MPAA s-DMCA legislation subjects everyone as a criminal by making it a crime to possess a device to “receive … transmit, [or] re-transmit” any communication service without the “express authorization” of the communication service provider.

This would give communication service providers such as Internet Service Providers unprecedented control over the “end user” at home and the technology marketplace. For example, your broadband ISP could force you (end user) to use only certain brands of computers, or force you to pay extra if you wanted to connect more than one computer to your DSL line. Cable and satellite TV services could forbid you from using a TiVo, or could charge you extra to connect a VCR to your TV.

A simple ban on devices capable of concealing communication would make a wide range of multi-purpose tools illegal. Widely-used home networking equipment could be banned because it often includes “network address translation” (NAT) and firewall features that incidentally conceal the origin and destinations of Internet communication. Some forms of encryption for email and web traffic might fall within this provision.

As discussed above, the proposed state super-DMCA proposals forbid a consumer from connecting anything to a communication service without the service provider’s express authorization. This creates an enormous opportunity for anticompetitive conduct.

Recent experience with the DMCA makes it clear that companies will not hesitate to use new legal protections in order to rid themselves of competition.

By the way, China is number #1 GDP… We don’t have issues over IPR like the US.

hideandseek977 says:


To Joe Blow and any others out there. Try this site. You don’t have to stop buying american made music or going to concerts, instead just check and see if the label that produced the music is an RIAA affilliate. Most indie rock is not. And all this mainstream stuff that is, is just a bunch of shit anyway that monkey’s could play.


Anonymous Coward says:

wow. is commiechina’s post true? is mpaa pushing an auth-only services?

i wonder how that will work? i mean, everything will have to be backwards compatable, right? i mean, my tv now can play dvd’s, vhs, cd’s laserdisks, vcd’s, cable, sattelite, and computer video, all with a few connections. does this mean that all of my old equipment will not be useable until i purchase new vcrs, dvd plyers, cable/sattelite boxes, compotuers, stereo head units….come on.i’m scared now.

Anonymous Coward says:

i have a problem with america when it doesn’t protect americans.

as a law abiding citizen, i should not have to pay for a “copy tax” (which is for legal copies, not for the revenue from “lost income” on illegal copies. how can i be entitled to a legal archive,yet have to pay a tax to do it) . i’m not breaking any laws, yet i must pay for what others have done wrong. make the illegal copierspay the “tax” not us.

america the “free” has turned into America, land of the Big business, and protection area for those with money.

that is where i have a problem with america

theANTIriaa says:

Re: Welcome to the American

Ya… anti-semitic statements are just like omg the most intelligent thing you could possibly bring to this board…

Here’s a thought…

so I have my hard drives in a raid-0 array… fast, but not very stable… one disk is useless without the other…

Everything i own. music-wise is on this array… now, like I said, this setup is fast, but prone to failure… a fact that is easily argued and proven… so… joe user is sitting, downloading gigs of music and gets a letter in the mail saying he’s being sued… wipe out the array, claim the array failed and that’s that, any and all logs are gone and it would be quite difficult to prove that the array didn’t fail on its own… just a thought.

|333173|3|_||3 says:

The RAID-0 idea is neat, but would not work, since some data can still be recovered if the disk fails provided the file system is intact.

BEfore I believe CommieChina’s post, I want a link to the propsed bill.

Admitting using Kazaa, which at that time not yet shown to be promoting copyright violation, does npot mean tha the kids admitted guilt. There is a good user friendly cartoon which is relevant, but I can’t find it. IT is the one about getting the kid to confess by telling her that the forces of darkness would triumph if she did not.

Annonymous proxy?

Stenography? (This would use up a lot f hard drive space though)

Vay Porloc says:

I wouldn't buy a god-dam music cd.

I wouldn’t buy a god-dam music cd if my life depended on. Too bad half the world is asleep. I wonder when “water boarding” will be considered ok for downloading a crappy mp3 file. All you people who consider this stealing are out of your minds. When I was a kid we used to tape off the radio and make taped copies of friends records. Believe me this never hurt the recording industry, just look at their profits in the 80’s. All I can say is I’m not buying another cd…

Constance Reader (user link) says:


I’m sorry, but there is no diplomatic way to put this that will make the point clearly enough:

You’ve completely missed the point.

Free file sharing IS the alternative. Free file sharing is HOW we boycott music sales — it is a highly visible and effective gadfly whereas simply refusing to purchase music is invisible, futile and useless.

In short — you are portraying yourself as a dumbass. Please stop, you are only hurting yourself.

-antishoto- says:

RIAA vs. the USA P2P users..?

It’s one thing to share files with others that are capable of trading their own wares with numbers of music .avi files as an example. Fine, fair enough.

But, it’s another when one doesn’t know you have about over a grand of music where, even in television they’ve said it a long time ago in the past, once you pass that mark of over that thousand mark. Some people would question whether or not one were to buy all those songs they’ve downloaded from any outside source.

See, here’s where the common sense of the RIAA goes to bits:

In one hand, Patti was downloading to share with everyone around her.

On the other hand, little did she know how many songs she was sharing. Although she fought them her self it was just a waste of time for RIAA reps to bring her mother into it since she lacked the knowledge of her daughter using Kazaa to download and share music.

Therefore, they dropped the case, but forced her to pay $750 per song, including the ones she already has, and it’s about close to over another $25k that she needs to pay out of her own pockets.

About the beginning of this trial, NY1 fared a news report about her and then had a little 5 minute tech report, stating that should anyone share things it is advisable to:

“keep your numbers short- in this case with music files, less than a thousand. Just put them in another folder that isn’t shared to be safe without detection. With movies, it should be at least less than 500 to prevent any outsider viewing your movies and report to the RIAA or MIAA for an outstanding collection of recent movies displayed in theatres.”

Now, I’m not certain if anyone knows about it, but that’s about ball park figures to keep it safe. Some people may not have any trouble if their figures were larger, but in my opinion, better to keep what you have and store it minus the dection without having a legal representative mail you from your ISP address a letter stating that you’ve been downloading “illegal” or “copyrighted” things.

Safety first, I always say.

I’ve been on track with the RIAA and MIAA issues since the late 90’s. Rememeber their idiotic DMPCA act that they’ve issued on animesuki.com, then Boxtorrents, Kazaa, and numerous other servers/programs that helps us to get anything we could provided that our connection doesn’t go flat?


Michael Triggs (user link) says:

Counter-sue for court costs from first case.

I respect her for going toe-to-toe with these jerks.

She should counter-sue the RIAA for the court costs from the first case. People need to begin playing as ruthlessly as the RIAA has been. It’s only fair.

I also think musicians need to begin to speak up. Everytime the RIAA pipes up ‘defending musicians’, musicians ultimately are the ones that lose. I’m surprised more of them are not thoroughly sick of all the bad press that this horrid organization generates on their behalf.

witch- hunted. says:

Computer Access hole blockage

This was in the Seattle P I yesterday. “…It’s still a black science, and they like to keep it that way,” he added.

According to court documents, investigators scan personal computers through an access point provided in most file-sharing programs. Although access can be blocked, many computer users don’t know the hole exists.

When copyrighted works are found, investigators note the offender’s Internet Protocol address — an identification number assigned to a computer or router by an Internet service provider…” Anyone know where the ‘access hole is and how it can be blocked???

Fox says:

Am I hallucinating, or is the RIAA looking a bit l

I’ve read reports of the RIAA owning about 90% of the entire US music industry; I’ve been to their site, and they said it themselves in big, bold, “friendly” letters. In my eyes, 90% is way too much ownership of an industry, regardless of the corporation, or more appropriately, profit-mongering lawsuit-addicted corporate machine.

In any case, I have seven words to say about all of this:
Nationwide Class Action Lawsuit Against the RIAA.

It should be a simple matter of strength in numbers. Aim high, go for the Supreme Court!

Bob Frankfert (user link) says:

Another One bites the dust

I feel sorry for the Mom. I know everyone hates how much every hates the RIAA but stealing is stealing. If her kid stole a car the person who stole the car would go after the parents. Why? A car is normally a lot of money. People who are get upset at the RIAA think that “How does trading or downloading one song really effect the grand scheme of things”. It doesn’t really effect the big stars but the little guys are really effected. I’ve always been a big music buff (Played guitar, Violin, and Clarinette) and I promised myself I will always pay for what I listen to now.


Winnipeg PC repair

Winnipeg Technical Blog

Seattlite says:

Too bad...

that the RIAA did not take the high road and set up a site that music lovers, who are not feeling so good about illegally obtaining the music they love, can send a modest fee for each track that they have on their computers. I would gladly pay .25 or .30 a track if I knew that the money would go directly to each artist. The RIAA has already taken their cut, it would be only fair that the artist should get a thank you in the way of a payment from the fans who love and admire them.

King Reekun says:

Fuc you RIAA you dam hoares.

Musicians barely see a fucing dime if someone buys their CD thanks to the refarded RIAA. The labels take all of it that’s why artists are dependant on concerts and the merchandising. Don’t buy fucing Albums. Don’t support these fat conts, go to a concert or something.

I hope you manipulative fat cows die in a fire or something.

I retract my statement. You pigs probably have a bug planted on this site or something.

Paranoid fools.

Go die.

jz says:

Can’t the RIAA get a life??

They have a life by destroying others. The only reason they do what they do is for profit. The goodie goodie front they put up is nothing more than a scam to rob people blind. If you don’t want trouble, the norm is to cough up 2 to 3 thousand dollars. They sues 25,000 people last year. Do the math. They are getting rich don’t care if they ruin other people lives. And if you attack them they are so proud of them selves that they will try to ruin your life anyway. And if they are wrong, they just keep on going, like locusts. I wish someone could prove they are doing something wrong, because they are, and then punish the living day lights out of them.

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