Sooner or Later... The RIAA Was Going to Sue Someone Who Was Innocent" />
September 23, 2003
RIAA Withdraws Suit - Ooops

Chris Gaither/The Boston Globe report in tomorrow's paper that the Recording industry withdraws suit because of mistaken identity.

The recording industry has withdrawn a lawsuit against a Newbury woman because it falsely accused her of illegally sharing music -- possibly the first case of mistaken identity in the battle against Internet file-traders.

The lawsuit claimed that Ward had illegally shared more than 2,000 songs through Kazaa and threatened to hold her liable for up to $150,000 for each song. The plaintiffs were Sony Music, BMG, Virgin, Interscope, Atlantic, Warner Brothers, and Arista.

Among the songs she was accused of sharing: ''I'm a Thug,'' by the rapper Trick Daddy.

But Ward, 66, is a ''computer neophyte'' who never installed file-sharing software, let alone downloaded hard-core rap about baggy jeans and gold teeth, according to letters sent to the recording industry's agents by her lawyer, Jeffrey Beeler.

She also has no kids. And she uses a Mac, but KaZaa only runs on Windows.

Beeler complained to the RIAA, demanding an apology and ''dismissal with prejudice'' of the lawsuit, which would prohibit future lawsuits against her. Foley Hoag, the Boston firm representing the record labels, on Friday dropped the case, but without prejudice.

''Please note, however, that we will continue our review of the issues you raised and we reserve the right to refile the complaint against Mrs. Ward if and when circumstances warrant,'' Colin J. Zick, the Foley Hoag lawyer, wrote to Beeler.

Jonathan Zittrain, an associate professor of Internet law at Harvard Law School, said the dismissal shows that the record companies may find it tough to prevail if their lawsuits go to court. Their legal strategy assumes that most defendants will settle rather than fight, and the lawsuits are so damaging to their public image that they cannot afford protracted legal battles with alleged file-swappers, he added.

''This is a very high-stakes strategy for the record companies,'' he said. ''It's either going to work in the short term, or they're going to have to pull the plug on it.''

UPDATE: 9/24/03 /. discusses.

UPDATE: 9/25/03 NYTimes on this case.

Posted by Mary Hodder at September 23, 2003 11:58 PM
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