Music Piracy Suit Against NY Family Settled for $7,000; RIAA’s Got Next Round at the Bar!

Hail the conquering heroes! After battling the tower of Patricia Santangelo (age 46, and a mother of five who lives in the sinister town of Wappingers Falls, NY) for an earth age (a.k.a. four years) over illegal music downloads, the Fellowship of the Antipiracy Ring that is the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is finally returning home from Mount Doom, flying high on a $7,000 settlement’s worth of eagles’ wings!

If approved by a judge, the settlement would end at least three feature-length films’ worth of fighting between record companies and Santangelo, who was originally accused of illegally downloading and distributing music, though her side of the story is that she couldn't have downloaded anything because she didn't know how to, you know... download things. She was one of thousands of people sued in the RIAA’s “... And Justice for All” campaign, but she refused to settle. Instead, she took her case to national news outlets and, according to those highly romantic Associated Press writers, “became a heroine to supporters of online freedom.” An Internet campaign raised about $15,000 for her defense.

The industry eventually dropped its suit against the mother, masterfully and tactfully filing a new one instead, against two of her children, Michelle and Robert, who were 20 and 16 years old at the time. The new lawsuit said the children had downloaded and distributed more than 1,000 songs, including “MMMBop” by Hanson and “Beat It” by Michael Jackson. Ignoring their impeccable taste, the suit also claimed that Michelle had admitted piracy in a deposition and that Robert had been implicated by a family friend.
Under the terms of the settlement, filed in court in White Plains late Friday, the Santangelos will pay $7,000, having paid half of that amount April 20 and scheduled to make six payments of $583.33 by October.

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Santangelos,” Cara Duckworth, a sad, sad spokeswoman for the RIAA, said. Asked how much had been spent to win the $7,000 settlement, and whether it was a victory, she said, “We don’t break out costs per case, and it’s not a question of it being ‘worth it’ or a ‘victory.’” Hey, yeah! So what if the same amount of money could have been raised from an RIAA Bake Sale? You can’t just go around doing business on the basis of whether or not the practices are financially “worth it.” Not in this economy! You’ve gotta factor "petty revenge" in, too.

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