Contradicting the RIAA’s claims that they can only track down individual file sharers via their Internet Providers (see Verizon case), the AP was able to track down a number of the targets of federal subpoenas the RIAA has been churning out:
- Parents, roommates — even grandparents — are being targeted in the music industry’s new campaign to track computer users who share songs over the Internet, bringing the threat of expensive lawsuits to more than college kids.
….In Charleston, W.Va., college student Amy Boggs said she quickly deleted more than 1,400 music files on her computer after the AP told her she was the target of another subpoena. Boggs said she sometimes downloaded dozens of songs on any given day, including ones by Fleetwood Mac (search), Blondie (search), Incubus (search) and Busta Rhymes (search).
Since Boggs used her roommates’ Internet account, the roommates’ name and address was being turned over to music industry lawyers.
“This scares me so bad I never want to download anything again,” said Boggs, who turned 22 on Thursday. “I never thought this would happen. There are millions of people out there doing this.”
In homes where parents or grandparents may not closely monitor the family’s Internet use, news could be especially surprising. A defendant’s liability can depend on their age and whether anyone else knew about the music downloads.
Bob Barnes, a 50-year-old grandfather in Fresno, Calif., and the target of another subpeona, acknowledged sharing “several hundred” music files. He said he used the Internet to download hard-to-find recordings of European artists because he was unsatisfied with modern American artists and grew tired of buying CDs without the chance to listen to them first.
….Citing on its subpoenas the numeric Internet addresses of music downloaders, the RIAA has said it can only track users by comparing those addresses against subscriber records held by Internet providers. But the AP used those addresses and other details culled from subpoenas and was able to identify and locate some Internet users who are among the music industry’s earliest targets.
….The RIAA’s president wasn’t sure what advice to offer because he never imagined downloaders could be identified by name until Internet providers turned over subscriber records.
“It’s not a scenario we had truthfully envisaged,” Sherman said. “If somebody wants to settle before a lawsuit is filed it would be fine to call us, but it’s really not clear how we’re going to perceive this.”
The RIAA has issued at least 911 subpoenas so far, according to court records. Lawyers have said they expect to file at least several hundred lawsuits within eight weeks, and copyright laws allow for damages of $750 to $150,000 for each song.
The AP tracked targets of subpoenas to neighborhoods in Boston; Chicago; St. Louis; San Francisco; New York and Ann Arbor, Mich. [AP]
Damn good reporting AP! This whole thing makes me sick – intimidation will yield only hatred and backlash. The first instance of a “normal” file sharer having to pay what is perceived as an unreasonable fine or settlement will focus the attention of a great many users whose minds still wander or who are in denial that it could be them. This course of action is the ONLY way I can see the recording industry as we know it literally being destroyed, that is, by themselves from within.