family without a computer sued by record companies
By LOWELL VICKERS
A federal lawsuit filed this week in Rome by the Recording Industry Association of America alleges that Carma Walls, of 117 Morgan St., Rockmart, has infringed on copyrights for recorded music by sharing files over the Internet. The lawsuit seeks an injunction and requests unspecified monetary damages.
The lawsuit states, “Plaintiffs are informed and believe that Defendant, without the permission or consent of Plaintiffs, has used, and continues to use, an online media distribution system to download the copyrighted recordings, to distribute the copyrighted recordings to the public, and/or to make the copyrighted recordings available for distribution to others.”
This came as shocking news to the Walls family, who were notified of the lawsuit Friday afternoon by a newspaper reporter. James Walls, speaking on behalf of his wife and family, said they have not been served with legal papers and were unaware of the lawsuit.
After being shown a copy of the court filing, Walls said he found the whole thing bewildering.
“I don’t understand this,” Walls said. “How can they sue us when we don’t even have a computer?”
Walls also noted that his family has only resided at their current address “for less than a year.” He wondered if a prior tenant of the home had Internet access, then moved, leaving his family to be targeted instead.
However, the RIAA’s lawsuit maintains that Carma Walls, through the use of a file-sharing program, has infringed on the copyrights for the following songs: “Who Will Save Your Soul,” Jewel; “Far Behind,” Candlebox; “Still the Same,” Bob Seger; “I Won’t Forget You,” Poison; “Open Arms,” Journey; “Unpretty,” TLC; No Scrubs,” TLC; and “Saving All My Love for You,” Whitney Houston.
The lawsuit follows similar wording as in some 3,500 other lawsuits filed by the RIAA in the United States since June 2003.
Typically, the lawsuits have targeted users of Kazaa, Grokster and other peer-to-peer Internet services – most of which have since been shut down by RIAA lawsuits. With these services, users typically have an open folder on the computer that allows other users of the service access to any songs that have been saved in a digital format, such as MP3 files.
The RIAA lawsuits have come under fire, with critics calling the effort a “scare tactic” meant to intimidate the public from file sharing activities.
However, in a public statement defending the litigation, the RIAA says its efforts have been effective in dissuading illegal activity.
“The industry’s anti-piracy efforts have deterred a sizeable number of would-be illegal downloaders,” the RIAA statement reads. “Although a significant online problem undoubtedly persists, particularly with hard-core, frequent peer-to-peer users, absent action by the industry, the illegal down-loading world would be exponentially worse.”
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