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Who's Sneaking Onto Your Computer?
Did the Recording Industry Association of America sneak onto a single mother's computer with a program called Media Sentry? Are they blackmailing innocent people, trying to coerce them into paying thousands of dollars in settlement fees for illegal downloading? This 42-year-old single mother says she doesn't even like gangsta rap, but she was accused of downloading it from the Internet, and told by the "Settlement Support Center" of the RIAA that she had to pay them thousands of dollars. Here's the story by Ryan Paul from arstechnica:

Anderson, who was accused of downloading gangster rap via the Kazaa file sharing network under the login gotenkito, claims that she has never engaged in piracy. According to Anderson, shortly after she received notice of the suit, she was contacted by the Settlement Support Center, which claimed that a company called MediaSentry illegally infiltrated her computer and found evidence of copyright infringement. Anderson, who has no interest in gangster rap, contested the accusation and even requested that the Settlement Support Center inspect her computer to verify her innocence.

Brace yourselves, this is where it really starts to get freaky. In her countersuit, Anderson claims that the Settlement Support Center acknowledged the probability of her innocence, but informed her that should she refuse to settle, the RIAA would proceed with a suit in order to discourage others from attempting to defend themselves against unwarranted litigation.

...If what she says is true, it means that the RIAA is using the threat of litigation to extort monolithic amounts of money from innocent consumers. The very prospect sends shivers down my spine, but is it true? Would the RIAA really attempt to defraud a disabled woman out of her meager social security income? If the RIAA does in fact perpetrate extortion on massive scale, it would constitute one of the most horrendous acts of large scale corporate fraud ever recorded and it would utterly annihilate the credibility of the politicians that have expressed support for the RIAA's anti-piracy efforts. Is the RIAA an evil empire driven by inhuman avarice, or is 42 year old Tanya Anderson a gangster rapping pirate in search of an easy way out?

via Ken Layne's Sploid

Posted by aalkon at October 19, 2005 6:53 AM

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I have the perfect defense ready at all times. If you look at the current Cruthfield catalog, you'll see that they sell CD duplicators made by, of all entities, that prominent RIAA member, Sony!

"Your Honor, Exhibit 1: proof that Sony, and by extension, the members of the RIAA, are not interested in the issue beyond the point of determining who gets the money."

Posted by: Radwaste at October 19, 2005 6:08 PM

I'm not on their side, but doesn't that defense seem a bit like blaming VCR makers for somebody's porn addiction?

Posted by: Amy Alkon at October 19, 2005 6:50 PM

I think his point is that there is no legal use for a CD duplicator other than duplicating CDs that one records one's self (i.e. copying burning CDs of yourself reciting a poem that you wrote into that little midget mike on top of your computer) since I'm under the impression that even making backups and storing them in a closet in case your CD gets scratched is technically illegal.

I see it more like the makers of "The Club" selling lockpicking devices with instructions on how to use them to disable "The Club," then aggressively lobbying prosecutors to come down on car thieves.

Couldn't fit a monetary element in that analogy unfortunately.

Posted by: little ted at October 19, 2005 10:43 PM

I see it more like someone illegally breaking into my house, then trying to extort a settlement from me because I supposedly had stolen property. When I protest my innocence, they would concede that I'm probably blameless, but they must go ahead and sue me anyway, unless I settle.

Posted by: Patrick at October 20, 2005 7:25 AM

If Sony, and by extension, the RIAA, doesn't want me to compile my favorites on one disk, or to make copies of my disks, then they should never build a consumer-grade disk burner.

By the way - the Windows PC architecture must be protected against intrusion, or it may be used as a server by a third party. This means that you guys with cable modems (the speed is important) can have smut and SPAM loaded onto your machine, then distributed all over the world without your knowledge.

Posted by: Radwaste at October 21, 2005 5:13 AM

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