- We really think that the major label lawsuits are just intimidation followed by extortion: the record companies scare people with a suit for hundreds of thousands of dollars and then offer a settlement for 4 or 5 thousand. The cost of fighting is so high that even if you think you’re innocent, it’s cheaper to settle.
Most families just don’t have a choice in that situation, they have to take the settlement even if it’s pushing them into debt. We’ve talked with about 40 or 50 of the 261 people that have been sued and it’s really unbelievable the situation these families are in. We’ve talked to several people that just lost their job (the economy sucks right now as you know), a 23-year-old mother of two who has abosolutely no money to deal with this, and a woman who is getting divorced, is moving out of her house and doesn’t even know where she’s living next week– then on top of all that she gets sued by the record labels for what feels to her like just going to the wrong website.
A lot of the parents don’t even know what filesharing is, their kids play with the computer all the time like everyone else and then one day someone shows up at their door with a huge lawsuit. One father told us he threw away his teenage daughters computer when he found out, when we spoke to his wife for the first time she told us he was not home because he was so upset that he had to leave the house. These people got picked basically at random and they really need help to be able to deal with the suits.
From the press’ perspective and from the general pundit perspective, all of us knew these suits were coming for a long time and when we talk about them they tend to get couched in terms of inevitability or a new business strategy. But the people that are getting sued are just regular folks who never thought twice about Kazaa and were completely blindsided. The record companies are stomping on them to make a point and it’s really brutal.
The Defense Fund actually runs on a peer-to-peer model: rather than collecting the donations centrally and then later distributing them, we use PayPal accounts so that donations go directly to people that have been sued and have signed up on our system. Our open-source software tracks donations and presents the person with the least donations so far to receive the next contribution– money gets spread out evenly over time, without a middleman. We think it’s a cool system and a good political response.
We hope the Defense Fund will give some people the ability to fight and will help alleviate some of the financial damage to the families that have to settle, people are seriously talking about taking out second mortgages or not being able to afford college tuition. From a political standpoint, if we can take away the damage, then the lawsuit scare strategy doesn’t work as well. The donation page is here. … Thanks for reading.
I think this is a good and reasonable response to what amounts to arbitrary sniping into a crowd of 60 million people. It could have been you, or your kids, or your parents.