What is it they say? Turnabout is fair play? It is unless you’re the one being turned about. In the case of the Recording Industry Association of Amercia (RIAA), not only is it fair play, they’re fair game.
During Napster’s hey day, long before iTunes, iTunes Music Store, and the iPod were all the rage, gazillions of songs were pirated and ‘swapped’ on the Internet and downloaded by millions of PC and Mac users.
Yes, stealing music on the internet was all the rage. Many students and young people and adult computer users downloaded thousands of songs to their computers. That caused fewer sales of CDs, so recording companies lost money.
Or, so the story goes. While I don’t doubt that much stealing went on, much is still going on, there are affordable alternatives that have helped stem the tide of illegal downloads.
Not according to the RIAA. To counter the illegal downloads, the RIAA, a front organization of the recording industry, went on a lawsuit rampage, and sued thousands and thousands of computer users for theft.
Somehow, the RIAA found a way to trace users and brought individual lawsuits to parents of teenagers, and other adults accused of stealing music online.
So far, most of those accused by the RIAA have settled and paid up. Any lawyer would tell a parent that it’s a pragmatic thing to do if your son or daughter actually did steal music online.
There’s a handful of problems that have cropped up in this lawsuit battle. One, not everyone who got sued downloaded music. Two, now it’s revealed that the RIAA may have used illegal methods to find out who was stealing music.
Three, some of those sued by the RIAA have sued back. Those numbers are growing and they’re winning? Why? Because the RIAA seems to have used illegal means to gain information about the alledged music thieves.
What goes around, comes around. Turnabout is fair play. You’ll get yours in the end.
A great case in point is 41-year old Tanya Anderson of Oregon. As This Story shows, Tanya was sued by the RIAA and accused of all sorts of musical mischief.
There was just one thing wrong. She didn’t do anything of the sort and sued back. What she found was the RIAA may have been using a number of illegal, unethical, and just plain ‘icky’ tactics to gain information about alleged illegal doers.
Anderson alleges that the RIAA and intermediaries, “…a person’s personal computer without their authorization to snoop around, steal information, or remove files is a violation of the common law prohibition against trespass to chattels.”
Whoa. And, hmmmmm. Come to think of it? How would the RIAA know about who’s supposedly stealing what unless they could actually ‘see’ what’s on someone’s computer?
Anderson says the RIAA used another company to do the spying and information stealing and strong arming. “According to the record companies, the agent, Settlement Support Center used the stolen private information allegedly removed from her home computer in their attempt to threaten and coerce Ms. Anderson into paying thousands of dollars.”
Whoa. Would a legitimate organization such as the RIAA stoop to such tactics? Evidently, according to Tanya Anderson and her lawyer in their countersuit:
“The record company plaintiffs employed MediaSentry as their agent to bypass Ms. Andersen’s computer security systems and break into her personal computer to secretly spy and steal or remove private information. MediaSentry did not have her permission to inspect, copy, or remove her private computer files. It gained access secretly and illegally.”
Do the ends justify the means? After all, the recording industry is complaining that people are stealing music. To prove it, they’re stealing information from the alleged theives. Is it mistaken identity or extortion? Or both?
People are people. Being that, we, as people, all make mistakes. Stealing music could be considered a mistake; especially by youthful participants in a common activity (remember Robin Hood?).
Is the RIAA simply making a mistake by stealing information from users computers? Or is this activity in the name of the recording industry, really just plain theft, purely illegal, and worthy of scorn, ridicule, punishment, and retribution?
I think so, and I haven’t been sued. Yet. I don’t expect to be sued, either, as I’m a long time iTunes Music Store user and don’t have any illegally downloaded music. But should I get sued by the RIAA and their lawyerly goons, I’ll be sure to contact Tanya’s lawyers.
In the meantime, ‘You Go Girl!’