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RIAA strikes in South Dakota

What I believe are the first lawsuits against specific South Dakota residents for sharing music over the internet were filed Monday in federal court in Sioux Falls. They are evidently part of more than 500 lawsuits RIAA filed this week.

How the RIAA picks its defendants is uncertain to me but the two in South Dakota are women from Brookings and Yankton. It also appears they may be in a special class. The RIAA normally sues by IP addresses because it doesn’t know the identity of most defendants. There evidently are, however, a group of 24 individuals who were sued by name “due to them declining or ignoring RIAA requests to settle the case before going to court.” Since the two South Dakota lawsuits are against named individuals, not Jane or John Doe or an IP address, I speculate they are in the latter category. (And while the lawsuits are public record, I see no need to spread their actual names on the internet.)

Each complaint alleges the defendant “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.” The complaints seek an injunction and monetary damages for violation of the copyright act. According to exhibits attached to the complaints, both women used Kazaa. At the time RIAA “print screened” the files these women were sharing, the Brookings woman had 599 files available (ranging from Madonna and Everclear to Martina McBride and the Dixie Chicks) and the Yankton woman had 1,183 (including hip hop/rap artists, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Avril Lavigne and the Spice Girls).

As of late March, none of the RIAA cases had gone to trial and the average settlement was about $3,000. As one commentator has noted: “The RIAA victims are ordinary men, women and children, and rather than chance the huge financial penalties that losing to Big Music’s limitless resources and expert legal teams inevitably would entail, they always settle out of court.” If the reports on the 24 lawsuits naming individuals apply here, these women may have already rejected settlement demands.

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