It appears that one phase of Patti Santangelo's file-sharing nightmare has been resolved - however her problems are far from over. Lawyers representing the music industry have officially dropped their complaint
against the once alleged P2P pirate, filing their dismissal in a New York court earlier today.
Although Patti Satangelo may no longer be the target of the music industry, her children still are.
The drama surrounding this case began nearly two years ago. Like nearly 20,000 other American citizens, Mrs. Santangelo was accused of copyright infringement by the music industry. Mrs. Santangelo was just one individual part of the RIAA's (Recording Industry Association of America) lawsuit campaign designed to cripple file-sharing and deter copyright infringement. Like most facing such an accusation, she was offered to settle for $7,500.00 from Elektra Entertainment. Unlike most, however, she refused to settle and the case has slowly migrated through litigation - costing her many times what it would to settle.
To make the case against Patti, six copyrighted files were downloaded using the Kazaa file-sharing client. Because this action makes the accused an uploader, those looking to enforce their copyrights online now have a case. Although six files may seem insignificant, coupled with the millions of alleged pirates online this number seems enough to pursue a case, or at least force a settlement.
Mrs. Santangelo has vehemently denied any wrongdoing in the case - and further stating she has little working knowledge when it comes to computers. It would appear that even a federal judge agreed
with her self-assessment.
"[Patty is] an Internet-illiterate parent, who does not know Kazaa from kazoo, and who can barely retrieve her email."
This label appears to fit many parents who are currently facing the music industry's onslaught against the FastTrack (Kazaa) network. Typically, many accused individuals simply own the internet account and are unfamiliar with the file-sharing culture or the risks involved. According to Mrs. Santangelo, she believes the files were installed by one of her children's friends.
And therein lies the problem. As is typically the case, the younger generation is more computer and technologically savvy than their predecessors - especially when it comes to file-sharing. During its earlier days, Kazaa was the zenith of file-sharing. With its once staggering 4.5 million user population, it was nearly 4 times the size of Napster. However the RIAA's lawsuit campaign, coupled with its reputation for nasty third party software, crippled this network.
Slowly, FastTrack's population began a steady decline. By the time Patti was named as a lawsuit recipient, this network was no longer the majestic file-sharing paradise it was in 2002-2003.
In some strange respect, it now seems that Patti's constant denial has taken root. Elektra's legal council submitted their motion to dismiss the case against Patti "without prejudice." According to the blog Recording Industry vs The People, this means Elektra could file a complaint for the same thing in the future.
Although this seems like good news for Patti, it's only part of the ongoing legal strategy against her family. Because it appears that Mrs. Santangelo truly has little knowledge of computers and P2P networking, there's likely not much of a case against her. However like many file-sharing cases, it's not the parents accused of doing the sharing - its the children.
Because Mrs. Santangelo refused to settle, the music industry has simply shifted gears in this case. On November 1st, Elektra filed a copyright infringement case against her son Robert and daughter Michelle.
According to Elektra's complaint
, "...Michelle...has now admitted under oath to substantial and ongoing infringement of Plaintiffs' significant copyright interests. ...Former neighbor and best friend testified at length as to how he and [Robert Santangelo, Jr.] had together...downloaded sound recordings...]"
This complaint has been refuted
by the Santangelo's lawyer Jordan Glass, who says he was at the deposition and never heard any admissions of guilt.
The Santangelo case is far from over. Although the names have changed, scratch away at the surface and all the players remain.