The story isn't new. Neither is the case.
The story parallels David and Goliath; the case stretches back to the summer of 2005 when Tanya Anderson's dinner was interrupted by a knock on the door from a legal process server. She was given notice of a lawsuit filed against her by the RIAA, who claimed she owed hundreds of thousands of dollars for copyright infringement for downloading about 1200 songs. When Ms. Anderson contacted the RIAA, she was told she didn't have a choice–she'd have to pay the fees. Unfortunately, even if she had wanted to pay off the RIAA, she simply did not have the resources. As a disabled single mother, she didn't have the funds to make the suit disappear.
When informed the RIAA that she had not downloaded any of the music she was accused of pirating, an official told her, “What are we supposed to do? Check everyone's computer who says they're innocent?”
Hmm, not a bad idea….
In attempts to stop rampant illegal downloading, the RIAA has targeted approximately 21,000 individuals–who, more often than not, decide that it is easier to pay the RIAA than hire a lawyer. Unfortunately, Ms. Anderson is not the only innocent individual who has been targeted -though her case has received a lot of attention.
Her case has received a great deal of attention with good reason. She was repeatedly told that she had to pay the fees, despite the fact that she did not have the means to pay them. Her daughter began to worry that they wouldn't be able to afford to continue living in their home. Eventually, Ms. Anderson received legal assistance with the help of EFF. Even after a court ordered inspection revealed that the files she supposedly pirated were not downloaded on her computer, the RIAA continued to pursue her. The RIAA eventually dropped the case in June.
After many months of harassment, she has filed claims against the RIAA for malicious prosecution. The complaint alleges that, “the RIAA has engaged in a coordinated enterprise to pursue a scheme of threatening and intimidating litigation in an attempt to maintain its music monopoly,” and details the harassment that Ms. Anderson was subjected to.
Hopefully, this case will mark the beginning of a shift in the way the RIAA deals with illegal downloading. Ms. Anderson's legal battle shows that randomly fired lawsuits do not constitute a sufficient solution to the copyright problems of the digital age.