This morning, a Harvard professor and his students will defend two Rhode Island residents from the RIAA, which is suing their son for sharing 7 music files on Kazaa. Although Arthur and Judie Tenenbaum are not named in the suit, the RIAA is attempting to force them to turn over their computer to be inspected for further copyright infringement. They don’t seem to care that they didn’t even own the computer when their son’s alleged illegal file sharing was done.
Nesson and his team allege that the Recording Industry Association of America and a coalition of record companies are abusing the federal court system with their litigation tactics, which attempt to make an example out of Joel and his family in the name of “deterrence.” Joel faces possible damages of more than $1 million for allegedly sharing seven songs on the Kazaa file-sharing network.
“The basic rules of evidence suggest that this invasion of privacy is both unnecessary and absurd,” said Matt Sanchez, one of Nesson’s students working on the case. “This hearing isn’t only about Joel’s parents. It’s also about finally putting up a fight against the recording industry’s intimidation practices.”
The RIAA has been vilified for the extremes it has gone to find people it claims are sharing music files illegally, and for the way it tried to levy stiff royalty demands on Internet radio stations, nearly forcing many out of business. Despite the fact that CD sales have been sinking for years while music downloads from sites like iTunes and Amazon are skyrocketing, the RIAA is still fighting tooth and nail against most online music. Are they simply shooting themselves in the foot again and again? It certainly seems that way.