Music Industry Defends Piracy Lawsuits
"Defendants deny that MediaSentry conducts illegal, flawed and personally invasive private investigations of private citizens," the record industry argued in papers filed last week with a federal district court in Oregon.
MediaSentry also argued that Andersen herself was responsible for any harm she suffered. "The damage alleged to have been sustained by plaintiff was caused in whole or in part by her own culpable conduct," the company argued.
The record labels initially sued Andersen in 2005, alleging that she was making thousands of tracks available through Kazaa. The charges were based on an investigation by MediaSentry, which allegedly tied the tracks to Andersen's IP address. Andersen denied the accusations and spent two years defending herself in court before the record industry withdrew its lawsuit against her.
Andersen now argues that the Recording Industry Association of America should not have relied on MediaSentry's investigation to bring a lawsuit. "Defendants falsely claimed that they could identify individual copyright infringers," she alleged in her case against the RIAA and MediaSentry.
Andersen further alleges that MediaSentry's techniques are unlawful and its results unreliable. "It claims to employ secret methods to enter individual computers to surreptitiously and illegally gather information without authorization or knowledge of the computer owner," she wrote in her lawsuit. "In reality and at best, MediaSentry is only capable of identifying an Internet protocol address that may have been associated with or assigned to a particular computer or routing device."
She is seeking to represent a class of thousands of people throughout the country who have been falsely accused of piracy. Since 2003, the record labels have threatened an estimated 26,000 individuals with copyright infringement lawsuits. Many of those have paid settlements of between $3,000 and $5,000 rather than take their chances in court.
U.S. District Court Judge Anna Brown dismissed four prior versions of Andersen's lawsuit against the RIAA, but has so far allowed the most current one to go forward.
Earlier this month, federal magistrate John Acosta recommended that the RIAA pay Andersen $108,000 in attorneys' fees for having to defend the initial suit. Her lawyer had requested $300,000, while the RIAA proposed $30,000. The RIAA has until today, May 27, to oppose the suggested award.