The National Law Journal reports:
Settling resisted, counterclaims filed.
By Tresa Baldas
October 10, 2005
When attorney John Hermann took on his first music piracy lawsuit recently on behalf of a woman who was being sued by the music industry, he was skeptical.
"I thought I was the only one stupid enough to take on one of these cases," he recalled.
He was wrong.
In the last year-particularly in the last six months-a growing number of defendants have refused to settle music industry suits, challenging what they allege are groundless lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America.
In the last two years, the RIAA has filed 14,800 lawsuits against individuals for illegally downloading and distributing copyrighted music on the Internet.
While the RIAA holds that most suits settle, attorneys note that many defendants have started fighting back.
In New York, a single mother of five has hired a lawyer to fight her copyright infringement suit, claiming a kid's friend may have downloaded copyrighted material without her knowledge.
In Seattle, another parent is challenging the RIAA, adamantly denying any illegal downloading. In Oregon, a defendant with an 8-year-old daughter is fighting claims that she downloaded "gangster rap" music at 4:30 a.m.
And in Michigan, three other RIAA lawsuits are facing opposition, including a case against a 14-year-old girl, and another action against the owners of a daycare center. "The cases are just starting to trickle through the court system and as a result we're starting to see objections," said Hermann, a solo in Berkley, Mich., who is handling the Michigan lawsuits.
Hermann and other defense attorneys allege that the RIAA is using "scare tactics" to force settlements, intimidating defendants into paying up before they can seek legal help, or dispute the charges. So far, about 3,400 of the RIAA suits have reached settlement.
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