updated 01:25 pm EDT, Thu July 5, 2007
RIAA probing illegal?
The Recording Industry Association of America, notorious for its attempts to clamp down on music downloads, has suffered another legal setback. The organization faces a counter-suit from Rhonda Crain, who was initially accused of illegal fire sharing, and expected to pay $4,500 in her dispute. Crain is, however, a Texan grandmother, who claims she had never heard of file sharing before she was threatened.
The newly-expanded Crain lawsuit alleges that the RIAA not only falsely accused her, but "illegally employed unlicensed investigators in the State of Texas," the filing reads, "and used the information thereby obtained to file this and other similar actions across the country."
By Texas law, all private investigation agencies must be licensed in order to present evidence at trial. Crain's attorney argues that MediaSentry, the agency working on behalf of the RIAA, was aware of this restriction before it investigated Texas, yet deliberately ignored it -- possibly at the request of the RIAA.
"[The RIAA and MediaSentry] agreed between themselves and understood that unlicensed and unlawful investigations would take place in order to provide evidence for this lawsuit," according to the filing, "as well as thousands of others as part of a mass litigation campaign."
Should Crain win her case, it could undermine many other RIAA probes, since Texas is not the only state in which investigators must be licensed. The organization was dealt another precedential blow in April, when it lost the second of its "secondary infringement" cases, suggesting that those with a reason to know of illegal downloads are as guilty as those who actually are aware. [via Ars Technica]