File sharers pay 12-year-old's music piracy fine
A trade group representing six of the biggest file sharing web sites have pledged to pay a $US2,000 fine on behalf of a 12-year-old girl, who illegally downloaded music from the Internet.
Brianna Lahara of New York, or more precisely her mother, was fined as a settlement to a lawsuit by the music industry for illegally copying and offering pirated music on the Internet.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) says the case is the first of 261 lawsuits filed in an effort to clamp down on illegal music-swapping on the Internet.
"We understand now that file-sharing the music was illegal," the girl's mother, Sylvia Torres, said in a statement issued by the RIAA.
"You can be sure Brianna won't be doing it any more."
For her part, Brianna said: "I am sorry for what I have done, I love music and don't want to hurt the artists I love."
But "P2P United" has stepped in, offering to pay Brianna's fine.
"We don't condone copyright infringement but it's time for the RIAA's winged monkeys to fly back to the castle and leave the Munchkins alone," the group's executive director, Adam Eisgrau, said.
He says "they're using 150,000 dollar-per-song lawsuits and a squad of high-paid lawyers to strong-arm $2,000 from single mothers in public housing".
Mr Eisgrau says others charged include a 71-year-old grandfather and a Columbia University senior, whose father recently died of cancer.
His group, formed in July to protect the rights of people who file share and the industry, represents Streamcast Networks, Grokster, LimeWire, BearShare, Blubster and EDonkey.
The RIAA says the lawsuits, filed on Monday local time, are the first in what could be thousands of suits in a bid to stem rampant online piracy of copyrighted songs.
But the tactic has been criticised by some as a heavy-handed invasion of privacy that could alienate music fans.
It had charged that the computer used by the girl offered more than 1,000 copyrighted song tracks via the KaZaa file-sharing service.
"We're trying to send a strong message that you are not anonymous when you participate in peer-to-peer file sharing and that the illegal distribution of copyrighted music has consequences, "RIAA chairman and chief executive Mitch Bainwol said.
"As this case illustrates, parents need to be aware of what their children are doing on their computers."