An unemployed single mom with health problems has renewed her legal challenge of the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA) with unseemly new details. They include accusations that the cartel's goons tried to contact the woman's 10-year-old daughter at school by impersonating the girl's grandmother on the phone.
RIAA agents pursuing bogus copyright violations also called the apartment of Tanya Andersen looking for her daughter Kylee and demanded they take the girl's deposition, according to a complaint filed last week in federal court in Portland, Oregon.
Later, during settlement discussions, the RIAA told Andersen she had to abandon all legal rights she may have in a countersuit or the association would once again demand to "interrogate and confront her little girl at the offices of the RIAA lawyers," according to the suit.
"Defendants' lawyer threatened persecution of Kylee in an effort to force Ms. Andersen to abandon her counterclaims against the defendant record companies," Andersen's complaint claims. "Their demand for face-to-face confrontation with Ms. Andersen's then 10 year-old child in a deposition at the offices of RIAA lawyers were also intended to coerce and threaten her."
Careful readers will remember Andersen, now 44 years old, countersued the RIAA in late 2005 after being accused of illegally downloading gangster rap tunes such as "Shake that Ass Bitch," "Bullet in the Head," "I Stab People" and several with titles that even we cannot publish.
Her counterclaims equated the RIAA to thugs that knowingly employed illegal investigative methods and pursued factually flawed charges. Suing under state and federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization laws designed to target organized crime rings, Andersen became something of a folk hero for her refusal to submit to the 800-pound gorilla.
The RIAA quietly dropped its lawsuit against Andersen on June 1 of this year, just hours before a court-imposed deadline for attorneys to submit proof that Andersen had illegally downloaded the copyrighted material. She responded with last week's action, which reinstates her counterclaims and introduces several new ones.
In 2004, about the same time she was targeted by the RIAA, Andersen was forced to leave her position with the Department of Justice for unspecified health reasons. Her suit seeks attorneys fees, which her attorney Lory Lybeck, says are in excess of $50,000, and additional damages, which he declined to estimate.
"All I can give you is a lady that was suffering from some very severe disabilities that was harmed very, very badly by these people," he said.
Also named is MediaSentry, a firm the RIAA uses to identify individuals suspected of illegally swapping copyrighted music online. Andersen's suit claims MediaSentry's own executives have admitted their investigative techniques are known to misidentify individuals and also can't determine if files made available for download actually contain copyrighted recordings or are mislabeled, inoperative or decoy works.
"Pursuant to a secret agreement, the RIAA, its controlled member companies and MediaSentry conspired to develop a massive threat and litigation enterprise targeting private citizens across the United States," the suit alleges.
An RIAA spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit. A spokeswoman for MediaSentry, which this month agreed to be acquired by SafeNet, declined to comment on allegations its methods are flawed.
"Data collected helps clients determine the scale and scope of their piracy problem and measure the success of enforcement campaigns. From worldwide peering points, SafeNet identifies online piracy in real-time by monitoring online auction communities, IRC networks, newsgroups, FTP sites, peer-to-peer communities and websites," she said in an emailed statement.
Among other details Andersen provides as evidence of the RIAA's witch hunt is its attorneys' refusal to take her up on an offer to inspect her computer for any evidence of the illegal downloads. Eventually, the court demanded an inspection be conducted, and RIAA investigators were unable to identify any files or file remnants containing the recordings alleged to have been copyrighted.
A copy of Andersen's complaint is here. ®