Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Woman Sues RIAA For Racketeering, Spying

A lawsuit that accuses the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) of racketeering, fraud and illegal spying was revived Friday after a federal judge dismissed the case a month ago. An Oregon woman, Tanya Andersen, originally counter-sued the RIAA after she was served with notice of an RIAA lawsuit falsely alleging copyright infringement and demanding penalties. A judge tossed Anderson's first case, but her amended lawsuit, filed Friday in Oregon U.S. District Court, seeks to represent thousands of people in a class-action suit as attorneys claim they have been wrongly targeted for music piracy by the RIAA.

The new suit claims that the RIAA and MediaSentry - the RIAA's private investigative arm that discovers file sharing by looking into peer-to-peer users' public files - "conspired to develop a massive threat and sham litigation enterprise targeting private citizens across the United States." The lawsuit also accuses the industry and MediaSentry of spying "by unlicensed, unregistered and uncertified private investigators" who "have illegally entered the hard drives of tens of thousands of private American citizens" in violation of laws "in virtually every state in the country," according to Wired.

Andersen's suit seeks class-action status to represent "those who were sued or were threatened with suit by defendants for file-sharing, downloading or other similar activities, who have not actually engaged in actual copyright infringement."

The judge said the new, amended complaint must demonstrate that the RIAA has been initiating "sham" litigation that is unsupported by any evidence. So far, there's been no ruling on whether the case can proceed or whether it can go on as a class action suit or solely represent Andersen. However, Andersen's lawyer says that if the amended complaint passes muster, the RIAA will be forced to disclose its investigative technique.

"We are going to have discovery," said attorney Lory Lybeck, according to PC World. "That's important because [the RIAA] has spent three years actively refusing to provide any discovery of any significance in the growing number of [file sharing] cases," that it is pursuing, he said. "It is very important for them to operate in secrecy because once their methodology is revealed it will be obvious they committed a crime."


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