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Another Satisfied Customer

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I feel very badly for this woman, her daughter and family, randomly caught in the latest round of file sharing lawsuits by the RIAA. But we have heard this story before, and by now ignorance of the campaign is a little hard to buy.

So I am not arguing this time around about the gross injustice of it all, although justice randomly, unevenly, punitively applied as a form of mass behavior modification – which Sherman freely admits is what the whole thing is about – IS gross injustice regardless of what you think about file sharing as the underlying sin.

My point this time around is to make note of the spin in the story, the way it is being presented by a totally mainstream publication and the woman’s response. This cannot be what the RIAA is hoping to achieve, a nation that hates its guts and a press that unambiguously paints it as the Big Bad Wolf. Even if they’re winning, they’re losing.

    “I think it’s totally, completely ridiculous. It’s not fair,” said Scimeca, who said she is being targeted for what her 13-year-old had told her was a research project for school.

    ….In a lawsuit filed last week in Newark’s federal courthouse, Sony, BMG Music and two other labels listed some 1,200 songs — the list filled 41 pages — that allegedly were offered for illegal swapping by “DrEeMeR” over the Internet network KaZaA.

    Scimeca said that screen name was used by her youngest daughter, a high school freshman, for a school-related project.

    But the family’s high-speed Internet service is billed to the mother, so she is named in the suit that claims copyright infringement of songs by Pearl Jam, Korn, Godsmack and four other artists.

    ….”The legal actions taken by the record companies have been effective in educating the American public that illegal file sharing of copyrighted material has significant consequences,” said RIAA President Cary Sherman in a prepared statement. “Consumers are increasingly attracted to the host of compelling legal online music alternatives. These lawsuits help to foster an environment that provides a level playing field for these services to succeed.”

    ….Scimeca said she has tried to be an Internet cop for her kids. The family computer is on the main floor of the house, in plain view, and she limits its use, she said. Chat rooms are banned. She peruses the girls’ “buddy lists” and even monitors their instant-messaging sessions — to the point where she knows “POS” is code for “parent over shoulder.”

    But, she said, “You can’t watch them 24 hours a day. By the same token, if they are able to access a site, how are they to know it’s wrong?”

    Though aware of past controversies surrounding the Napster file-sharing service, Scimeca said she was “oblivious” to KaZaA and Morpheus, another service she said her daughter used and that now resists deletion from their computer.

    The music industry should focus on shutting those services, she said.

    “How can you blame a 13-year-old child for doing something they didn’t know was illegal?” Scimeca said. “I’ll start a petition to never buy another record again. It’s bull. They need to work on cutting off the sites and shutting down the supply. Kids will always look for free stuff.”

    “It’s not like she murdered someone,” Scimeca said of her daughter, whose name she withheld. “When we were kids, we sat with tape recorders and taped songs off the radio. Was that illegal, too?”

    She insisted the labels will have a hard time squeezing any money from her.

    “I’d have to pay them a dollar a month,” Scimeca said. [NJ.com]

Losing the PR war is losing the war, period.

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About Eric Olsen