Article: Tentative settlement in famed NY music piracy suit

By | February 27, 2009

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Lawyers have reached a tentative settlement in a music piracy lawsuit filed by the recording industry against the children of one of its best-known opponents, the family’s lawyer said Friday.

If the settlement is finalized, it would end a long battle between the industry and the family of Patti Santangelo, who was sued in 2005 for allegedly pirating music through file-sharing computer networks.

Santangelo, a mother of five from Wappingers Falls, denied the charge, saying she couldn’t have downloaded or distributed music because she didn’t know how. A federal judge described her as an “Internet-illiterate parent, who does not know Kazaa from kazoo.”

Santangelo refused to settle at any price and pleaded her case in newspapers and on national TV. As the record companies sued thousands of people, supporters of online freedom used the Internet to raise money for her defense.

In 2007, the industry dropped the lawsuit against Santangelo but sued two of her children, Michelle, then 20, and Robert, 16, saying they had downloaded and distributed more than 1,000 songs, including “Pretty Fly (For a White Guy) by the Offspring, “MMMBop” by Hanson and “Beat It” by Michael Jackson.

It said Michelle had admitted piracy in a deposition and Robert had been implicated by a family friend. They denied wrongdoing.

The Santangelos’ lawyer, Jordan Glass, said Friday that a settlement in principle had been reached and details should be finalized by March 18. Neither he nor Cara Duckworth, spokeswoman for the Recording Industry of America, would discuss the terms because they were not final. The industry had been seeking an injunction, unspecified damages for each download and court costs.

“We are pleased to have settled our case with the Santangelo family,” Duckworth said.

Most of the file-sharing networks have been forced out of business.


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