Monday, April 28, 2008

Does She Look Like a Music Pirate?
Inside Tanya Andersen's private war with the recording industry. Hint: She's winning

Andersen got the piracy case against her dropped; now she's going after the RIAA for conspiracy.
She argues the Recording Industry Association of America, the industry's trade group, and its affiliates worked together on a broad campaign to intimidate people into making financial payoffs. The defendants "secretly met and conspired" to develop a "litigation enterprise" with the ultimate goal of preserving the major record companies' control over the music business. Andersen is requesting class action status for her case, seeking at least $5 million in compensation for the class.
Finally she called Lory R. Lybeck, a Seattle lawyer who was handling a similar case. They talked on the phone, then Lybeck sent one of his lawyers down to meet Andersen. "I said to myself, either she's a good actor and a good liar, or what they have done to her is really crummy," Lybeck says. He took the case on contingency, meaning he gets paid only if Andersen collects damages from the recording industry.

Lybeck is a compact 52-year-old with a brawler's attitude. He spent the early part of his legal career at a large litigation firm representing companies such as Chrysler, and in 1992, he set up his own two-person shop. Since then, he has gone after major corporations and government institutions for alleged wrongdoing. "I dislike arrogant bullies," Lybeck says.

What struck him about the RIAA was its negotiation tactics. The record labels accused people of downloading songs worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages, but they set the settlement price at a few thousand. Paying was cheaper than hiring a lawyer. "To me, that says this isn't about lawsuits, it's about an extortion campaign," says Lybeck. The RIAA's Gabriel says: "Our goal isn't to bankrupt people; our goal is to send a message that copyright infringement is wrong and get some compensation for the infringement."

Read the rest of this 5 page article here.

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