The RIAA took quick steps to blunt a public relations atrocity by agreeing to settle out of court with a 12-year-old girl accused of trading copyrighted songs.
It took all of twenty-four hours for young Biggie Brianna to be hit with a lawsuit and then pay up for her alleged crimes. The youngster's mother has agreed to shell out $2,000 to get the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) off her family's back. This marks the first settlement to come as a result of the 261 lawsuits the RIAA filed this week.
Earlier in the day, Brianna complained of stomach pains and emotional suffering as a result of the RIAA's actions. After signing the soothing settlement, however, she expressed regret at having harmed the precious artists.
It's okay, Brianna, don't worry. Fox manufactures new artists every few months. The new ones won't know that you committed the naughty act of trying to listen to their music.
The pigopolists no doubt prepared a contingency plan should any toddlers, pre-teens or bedridden seniors get caught in their web of lawsuits. Alarm bells must have sounded in the swine cave when word of Biggie Brianna got out. A number of news outlets rushed to tell the story of the honors student gone wrong.
Brianna thought the $29.99 fee her mother paid for the Kazaa music trading service entitled her to download songs at will. Nothing like a lawsuit seeking $150,000 per song to correct that misconception. This is what some refer to as a growing pain.
This settlement has taught us a few valuable lessons about the RIAA's methodology. Apparently, young teens hit the copyright infringement scale at the $2,000 mark. College students, by contrast, must cough up between $12,000 and $17,000 for their violations, as we saw earlier this year. So any parents out there with children under 12 can expect their precious tots' crimes to cost around $1,000. That's comforting.
It's also clear that the RIAA has no leniency for the less well off in society. Brianna happened to live in a New York Housing Authority apartment, which provides safe, affordable housing to low- and moderate-income families. The music label executives are struggling to pay the rent on their penthouse apartments because of file-trading, so why cut the lower class some slack? We all have needs.
The RIAA's actions, however, aren't going unnoticed by the government. During a Senate Judiciary Hearing Tuesday, the RIAA president Cary Sherman faced some tough questions.
"Are you headed to junior high schools to round up the usual suspects?" Sen. Dick Durbin asked, according to the AP.
"Yes, there are going to be some kids caught in this, but you'd be surprised at how many adults are engaged in this activity," Sherman said.
Don't let your emotions get the best of you, Cary. Come on, stay tough.
The RIAA is sure to have some PR gaffes as their legal crusade goes along. But a few miscues are certainly worth it when we are all being taught such a valuable lesson. ®