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RIAA Settles 52 Suits

New round of charges expected next month

The Recording Industry Association of America has announced that it
has settled fifty-two of the 261 lawsuits filed against music
listeners who allowed others to download music from their computers
through file-sharing software.

The settlements reportedly ranged from $2,500 to $7,500, though
one is believed to have exceeded $10,000. The deals include no
admission of wrongdoing, but the defendants must delete the files
from their computers and refrain from making public statements
inconsistent with the settlement. After filing the first round of
suits, the RIAA announced its Clean Slate program, which offers
amnesty to those who had illegally traded files online in exchange
for a formal admission of guilt and a promise to remove pirated
material from their computers. According to the RIAA, more than 800
people have requested such amnesty.

Announced on September 8th, the suits quickly earned the RIAA
bad publicity when the New York Post put a picture of
accused downloader Brianna LaHara, 12, on the front page of the
paper. LaHara claimed that by paying a monthly subscription fee for
Kazaa, she was downloading within the parameters of the law. Her
family settled for $2,000. Also hit was seventy-one-year-old
Durwood Pickle in Richardson, Texas; he said he rarely uses his
computer, but his grandchildren had been downloading songs on
it.

“We knew that the press would find poster children as a result
of this program,” RIAA president Cary Sherman told Rolling
Stone
. “But you have to choose between your wish to be loved
and your wish to survive.”

The RIAA plans to file another round of lawsuits next month. The
organization has so far been targeting “major offenders” who have
downloaded what it considers “substantial amounts” of songs,
usually more than 1,000. It estimates that the number of lawsuits
could grow from hundreds to thousands.

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