NY family has to pay the RIAA $7,000 after court case

The most loved organization in the world, the RIAA, has won a case against a New York family for illegally downloading music. The case was originally filed against Patricia Santangelo, 46, a mother of five, who resides in Wappingers Falls, N.Y but was later dropped and re-filled against her two sons.

Rather than taking the settlement agreement the two sons and mother decided to fight the RIAA and nearly $15,000 was raised by online sympathizers to help fight the industry. The result, nearly 4 years later, is that the family will have to pay $7000.00 for songs downloaded that included "'MMMBop' by Hanson and 'Beat It' by Michael Jackson.

"We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the Santangelos," Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the R.I.A.A., said in an e-mailed statement. Asked how much had been spent to win the $7,000 settlement, and whether it was a victory, she said, "We don't break out costs per case, and it's not a question of it being 'worth it' or a 'victory.' "

The family decided to agree to the $7000 amount because the two sons are now in college and they need to control their costs as lawyer fees probably exceeded the 15,000 in donations.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

AutoRun changes in Windows 7

Next Story

3D: Why a new Xbox is coming sooner than later

70 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

people complaining about 'illegal' downloads... the way i see it thought is you can 'get' those downloads that are HIGHER QUALITY and CHEAPER... what's the point in stuff like itunes then?

because if im paying for a music download it would have to pretty much be CD Quality (i.e. a format like .flac) or at the very least those .mp3 files where the sound varies from around 128kbps to 320kbps (i.e. LAME + EAC encoded)

either way though the RIAA/MPAA will look like the bad guys to the general public due to the fact there 'big corporations picking on the little guy' sorta thing.

whether the RIAA is right or wrong... there pretty much the bad guy to the general public because they pretty much ruin your average joe's life over some petty music lol :(

7grand seems extreme! .... and the RIAA (as most big corps do) has the resources to win purely because they can just keep fighting you til you give up due lawyer fee's ... that's quite wrong.

The most loved organization in the world, the RIAA,

BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!! Words cannot express how hilarious that opening bit is.

What is even more sad, is there are actually a few people who post here who are on the RIAA's side. What a joke.
Just shows this world is full of thugs.

The RIAA/MPAA is the modern day mafia.

All the RIAA wants is to fill there pockets with cash, they claim to care about the artists n such but in reality there just in it for the cash, never give in to those greedy aholes they can pay themselves.

izzy1333 said,
So what? What does that have to do with with woman and her sons downloading songs they did not pay for?
The sons were doing the right thing by not giving the RIAA money. That's what it has to do with that.

Does any one know HOW they were "caught" and what means were used?
and what clients the family used like lime wire bit torrent etc. if any?
and on a side note any one who think organizations like the RIAA are honorable and have Honorable intentions just have their head up their ARS they don't care about the artist only the $$$$$$ just look at how much an artist gets paid per record...

It's a riddle to me why an honorable and such selfless association
like the RIAA is under such an enormous attack.

They do everything for their artists, for art, for creativity
and for innovation, just in Brave-New-World style.

Really, people should be kept more in line.
The government should just allow the RIAA
to shoot people, and take their belongings.

Yes, guess it's time to start a petition.


I live in Hungary and the cd prices are incredible high ! For example the new Depeche Mode album cost 10$ at the moment on amazon. If I would like to buy it here, i need to pay 24$ !! But I can't buy music on amazon, I can't buy music on iTunes or the Zune marketplace here. So what do I need to do, get it from my friends, who bought it or download it. Drop the prices to a reasonable level and I will buy it. I will buy all of my music the time one of the greatest music stores kicks in here. But 24$ for an album is a joke. Seriously. Till then, I'll listen to my old music and get it from others who has the cd, because I hate 192kbit/s mp3s downloaded from crappy source.

The news article is misleading.

The RIAA doesn't sue people for downloading music.

These people made these songs available for OTHER people to download.

Xenomorph said,
The news article is misleading.

The RIAA doesn't sue people for downloading music.

These people made these songs available for OTHER people to download.


you sure about that?

-Bryce- said,

you sure about that?

People get in trouble for sharing files.

The default option in many programs is to share the file once it has been downloaded.

Read some of the reports. The RIAA puts $XXX amount on each copy of the song the user "uploaded".
They don't get in trouble for downloading it, they get in trouble for providing it to other people to download.

With a LOT of these cases (almost ALL of them), the user doesn't even make an attempt to share the file. It's just the default option in the program they are using.

There is nothing in these cases that mention the user is fined for downloading. Only the misleading story titles say they user is in trouble for downloading.

The phrase, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time" rings true.

How hard is it for people to understand that illegal downloads are illegal? Finally, people are being forced to realize the consequences of their actions. I don't like the RIAA's tactics but it's also time for people to grow up and realize that their immature entitlement atittude will end up costing them real money if they download illegally.

This is a win-win situation for everyone.

C_Guy said,
The phrase, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time" rings true.

How hard is it for people to understand that illegal downloads are illegal? Finally, people are being forced to realize the consequences of their actions. I don't like the RIAA's tactics but it's also time for people to grow up and realize that their immature entitlement atittude will end up costing them real money if they download illegally.

This is a win-win situation for everyone.

you must be as popular and loved as the RIAA

id buy music if the artist got all the money..but the RIAA does
i bought the radio head cd, and NIN's..just cause they dropped the RIAA
and i refuse to spend money on anything that benefits the RIAA

Neoauld said,


you must be as popular and loved as the RIAA

id buy music if the artist got all the money..but the RIAA does
i bought the radio head cd, and NIN's..just cause they dropped the RIAA
and i refuse to spend money on anything that benefits the RIAA



im with cguy on this, with the ability to purchase only the songs you want rules out the "but the other 10 songs are crap" and recording companies provide many people with jobs, the singer gets a large cut, the recording comapny gets a cut, and the song writer gets a cut...it would be one thing if the singer produced, created, shipped, marketed and did all the things neccesary to recieve 100% payment...


is 1.29 cents max to much to pay for one song that you listen to many times?

bdsams said,
the singer gets a large cut, the recording comapny gets a cut

Surely this is a joke. Artists rarely get more than a small percentage of profits.

Very few people are going to argue with you that it's illegal, and partly as a result punishment is justified. The trouble is that justice needs to be properly served. Many of the RIAA's methods of proving that people pirated music are pretty dubious. You and I know the statistics and probably figure that anyone accused has pirated music at SOME point, but that's not how the judicial system works (nor should it work that way). The RIAA "wins" many of its cases purely by dragging the case out and by intimidating people with subpoenas. These are not examples of justice being served - rather, these are examples of a large corporation unfairly utilizing its resources to abuse the judicial system to its advantage. If you follow a few of the cases involving the RIAA, that should become fairly obvious to you.

The second issue deals with the penalties. Many of the RIAA's self-assessed damages seem unreasonably high. And is it surprising? Just as an insurance company doesn't let you assess how much money you'd need to repair your car after an accident, why are we allowing the RIAA to assess how much money they deserve from a damage? An unbiased third party should really be responsible for that.

YAY lets bring back the public flogging i do so enjoy a sunday flogging erm no i think not but punishment should fit the crime make em pay the $ amount for the cd's retail cost and some legal fees unless they made money from said piracy then by all means have at em tooth an nail

Current copyright laws need to be revised. At the very least a change needs to be made that if a piece of music is broadcast on the air waves; it is essential being given up as public domain or what ever the term may be.

Alex_The_Cat said,
It's a good thing I live in Europe. At least here corporations and cartels are being kept in line.


How much does gasoline cost there again? Yeah, you guys sure know how to keep cartels and corporations in line!!

Oh please. The EU themselves are like a cartel of their own. I won't go into the details of recent events as this isn't really the place to discuss it, but seriously, look around.

If by keeping in line you mean suing successful and innocent American companies when you are low on money then yes you are right.

C_Guy said,
If by keeping in line you mean suing successful and innocent American companies when you are low on money then yes you are right.

Doesn't the EU have more money than America? I thought you guys were a few trillion dollars in debt or something?

C_Guy said,
Are people done with illegal downloads?

Yeah I thought so.

Seems trying to shut down TPB won't help muhahah

Dane said,
I thought they were done with suing ?

I seem to remember that report recently as well. I wonder what happened to that? Maybe that didn't count lawsuits that were already in progress (which it seems this one was).

If people would pay for the music they download, there would be no need for the RIAA. Why should people blame the RIAA when everyone knows downloading music illegaly is wrong.

I can understand why they do it the way the economy is, but if you get caught, be prepaired to pay high fines.

DSLJay said,
If people would pay for the music they download, there would be no need for the RIAA. Why should people blame the RIAA when everyone knows downloading music illegaly is wrong.

I can understand why they do it the way the economy is, but if you get caught, be prepaired to pay high fines.

If all music was available to buy no matter what region you live in then the would be no excuse.
My wife was trying to buy a CD by an Italian singer, it is not available on-line to buy as a CD or download from any UK trading web sites, and the Italian web sites also blocked the purchase, and would not ship to the UK.
In the end I had to download it from a dubious source!!, but I hasten to add when we were next in Italian we did buy a legitimate CD.

It shouldn't be this hard to purchase music.

Common sense regarding this matter fails to register with many people.

I mean, if I kill someone, can I justify it because I did not like him? No, I'd expect to be convicted and sent to prison.

I feel zero sympathy for music pirates and anyone with half a brain should also feel that way. Cause and effect is an elementary skill they teach you in school and when the big bad RIAA comes after people, there are lots of people wondering why.

If you killed someone, would it then be justified to send you to a torture camp and subject you to filling your belly with water, sleep deprivation and abuse of the most horrifying nature for the rest of your life?

A real theft in any shop would probably result in a few months of probation or a few hundred in compensation. $7k isn't as ridiculous as some of the lawsuits go, but there are others whose settlement costs go way way higher.

Copyright infringement is wrong, and punishment is warranted. But the punishment must be fair and reasonable. Else, our thieves would still be having their hands chopped off. Maybe those who fully and unreservedly support the RIAA can consider this.

Actually, downloading a song or album when you own the CD is not illegal; it's called fair use. What's illegal is sharing the file back, so PTP programs get you into trouble. Yeah, you can rip it yourself, so what's the point? Well, I think it's still the law that you're allowed to have a song you downloaded without owning for 24 hours. I myself download music from time to time that I may not own. If I like it, I buy it. If I don't, I delete it. "Piracy" in the music industry is free publicity. Instead of cracking down on it they should be offering free download in CD quality with some sort of 24-hour "self-destruct" DRM or a small subscription service to keep songs longer, say an infinite number of downloads that expire after a day, a week, a month, a quarter, a year, etc. with varying pricing accordingly. Then people would maybe buy the songs they listen to all the time, while letting the ones they never listen to die. Since they don't offer anything of that sort I will proudly continue my "try before you buy" plan, 100% legal or not.

My opinion is: if you don't agree with a product's price, then don't buy it nor 'pirate' it. It is the best way to protest against the corporate greed.
It's about time these companies adapt to modern times and actually take advantage of the p2p technological potential instead of fighting it.

Yeah there's no law that says theft is legal for the first 24 hours and then illegal after that. But at least you are an ethical pirate :)

Amazon and countless other stores offer song samples if you want to "try before you buy" so that argument is completely invalid.

"I mean, if I kill someone, can I justify it because I did not like him? No, I'd expect to be convicted and sent to prison."

If you kill someone, that person stops being there.
If you download music, does the music stop being there?

To keep with your kind of example, it is closer to cloning someone without their permission, but then you still have the difference of the cloned person not being inanimate.

It's not so much that is isn't theft, more that you have 24 hours after downloading it to delete it before you're in legal trouble. Even today I think the idiots at the RIAA only believe you possess the song if you're uploading it; they must not think we're intelligent enough to simply stop sharing it when it's done downloading, and besides they don't have any other way to prove you have the song(s) on your computer still. I don't remember the finer details; it all surfaced back when napster and e-donkey users were being persecuted years ago. As far as online samples go, well, sure, I could listen to them (in bad quality) on Amazon if I wanted, but I'd have to know what to listen to first. I don't listen to the radio anymore, so I have no idea what's new, popular, who's put out a new album or when, etc. On the other hand, I can check out alt.binaries.mp3 or go to the Pirate Bay and check out the top 100 and it will give me a clue what's in demand right now, and thus point me towards new music I never would have been exposed to otherwise. Though lately I haven't much bothered with that, either, I just check in on my favorite bands from time to time and see if they've put out another album yet, because I'm finally getting old enough that most new music is just... well, I wouldn't call it noise (though my parents would probably think so), but it just seems like regurgitated crap; there doesn't seem to be much originality going on these days.

NotSoBad said,
It shouldn't be this hard to purchase music.

Doesn't really apply to this case though. I'm sure MMMBop and Beat It are easy to purchase legally.

Out of curiosity, which Italian CD were you trying to buy?

What the pro-RIAA people don't seem to realize is that the RIAA essentially fails to prove that people actually downloaded the alleged music illegally. They go by an IP address. IP addresses can be spoofed and piggybacked.

Here is an example: A family has a wireless network. This wireless network is not secured (as a majority of WiFi routers are not). A malicious user in rage of the router hops on the network and begins file-sharing lots of files. That malicious person is using the family's network and IP. If that IP gets caught, is the malicious user going to get in trouble? No, the innocent family will. Should that family be responsible for thousands of dollars worth of damage for something they didn't do? If someone broke into my car, stole it, and ran someone over with it, should I be liable for that? NO! That's the problem: They have NO hard-core evidence that a person illegally transferred the music.

How they essentially "catch" file-sharers, is that they search for someone "sharing" a file (meaning that the file can be transferred to another user), and they begin a download to gather their IP. They then come up with some formula, which assumes that the file was shared many times, and that the per-download cost is somewhere in the hundreds of dollars per file. (Of course, the actual per-download cost per file is less than $1.) Here is the real kicker: What evidence do they have that the file was transferred to other users at all? They are making assumptions without any concrete evidence to support their claims, yet, they are being awarded lots of money for this. They essentially want to make it illegal to just offer your files for sharing, as it̢۪s too hard (impossible, actually) to prove that you actually illegally transferred the file to many people.

The RIAA̢۪s arguments are entirely speculative, and they are just complete BS. Why they are still being allowed to abuse the legal system is beyond me.

Darrian said,
Actually, downloading a song or album when you own the CD is not illegal; it's called fair use. What's illegal is sharing the file back, so PTP programs get you into trouble. Yeah, you can rip it yourself, so what's the point? Well, I think it's still the law that you're allowed to have a song you downloaded without owning for 24 hours. I myself download music from time to time that I may not own. If I like it, I buy it. If I don't, I delete it. "Piracy" in the music industry is free publicity. Instead of cracking down on it they should be offering free download in CD quality with some sort of 24-hour "self-destruct" DRM or a small subscription service to keep songs longer, say an infinite number of downloads that expire after a day, a week, a month, a quarter, a year, etc. with varying pricing accordingly. Then people would maybe buy the songs they listen to all the time, while letting the ones they never listen to die. Since they don't offer anything of that sort I will proudly continue my "try before you buy" plan, 100% legal or not.


nice idea but very impractical there are already programes out that rip DRM from music making your idea not worth the effort and cost to impliment

Manish said,
Doesn't really apply to this case though. I'm sure MMMBop and Beat It are easy to purchase legally.

Out of curiosity, which Italian CD were you trying to buy?

Biagio Antonacci - Il cielo ha una porta sola
The wife just absolutely loves him.

I now it doesn't apply in this case, was just using it as an example of why some music might be pirated.

In my opinion I would have sent them down for life for download such crap as MMMBop, lol

Hidr0 said,
How long till pple actually DO SOMETHING agains this RIAA/MPPA?.... this is really sad news

How long until people actually pay for the music they download? There are plenty of options now, absolutely no valid reason to steal.

RichardK said,
How long until people actually pay for the music they download? There are plenty of options now, absolutely no valid reason to steal.

yup like .10 cents or less for a song. I love options

The Bush administration was anti consumer, pro business. People forget that the RIAA waited until it had a friendly administration to go after Napster (2000) and has executed this corporate extortion during its two terms.

@RichardK, digital distribution of music is just the modern equivalent of radio. The sooner the RIAA companies learn how to join in, rather than scream against the future, the better chance they'll have of remaining in business.

At this point, however, they've generated so much ill will amongst artists AND consumers, I think the racketeering distribution dinosaurs are going to be little more than content libraries for legacy acts within a few short years.

excalpius said,
The Bush administration was anti consumer, pro business. People forget that the RIAA waited until it had a friendly administration to go after Napster (2000) and has executed this corporate extortion during its two terms.


BS. Clinton was still prez in 2000. The RIAA didn't need help from the White House to start this. You need to shake your head a little bit. That might just disloge that bias.

RichardK said,
How long until people actually pay for the music they download? There are plenty of options now, absolutely no valid reason to steal.

Yeah, plenty of options, all of which seem to think a dollar per song is fair.

LiquidSolstice said,
Yeah, plenty of options, all of which seem to think a dollar per song is fair.

I'd like to buy a car for $1000 but it just does not work that way. Using your logic, this justifies me in stealing it.

babyHacker said,
I'd like to buy a car for $1000 but it just does not work that way. Using your logic, this justifies me in stealing it.

Problem is your logic is as broken as his logic.

When you download a song YOU DO NOT STEAL ANYTHING. It's called copyright infringement. It's illegal but it's not stealing.

Captain555 said,
The perfect word for it is "hollow victory".

In a sense, these people (the RIAA) are actually "terrorists".

Actually that's two words ;)

But what you're really looking for is the term "Pyrric Victory"

testman said,
Actually that's two words ;)

But what you're really looking for is the term "Pyrric Victory"


Ho, I love it. Good word. But you forgot the "H" (Pyrrhic victory)

Yes, the article makes it sound like the family lost the case to the RIAA, which is IMPOSSIBLE, because the RIAA cannot win their illegal case in court.

If the family had been able to afford to stick it out, they'd have seen the RIAA drop the case eventually, as they've done in all others where the defendants didn't settle.

The RIAA has no desire to risk setting the precedent of actually losing one of these cases, which then forces them to stop these letters (essentially an ad campaign of FUD designed to scare consumers) and opens them up to class action suits in return.

Corporate extortion of private citizens is just another legacy from the Bush years we're going have address some day.

excalpius said,
Corporate extortion of private citizens is just another legacy from the Bush years we're going have address some day.


This is the most ridiculous comment I've ever read.

First, this corporate extortion, as you rightly defined it, was started by DirecTV in the 90s, which was the Clinton years. But then Clinton had nothing to do with that. Just as much as Bush had nothing to do with the RIAA acting as terrorists. You can argue that he didn't stop it, but he had some more important things then that on his plate.

And if you think it should be adress by the government some day, well, it won't be anytime soon. Obama just filled his Justice Department with a dozen or so of ex-RIAA and/or ex-MPAA lawyers.

If you want to stop these people, you have to stand up to them. Some have and won. See this case: http://www.p2pnet.net/story/16724

excalpius said,
Yes, the article makes it sound like the family lost the case to the RIAA, which is IMPOSSIBLE, because the RIAA cannot win their illegal case in court.

If the family had been able to afford to stick it out, they'd have seen the RIAA drop the case eventually, as they've done in all others where the defendants didn't settle.

The RIAA has no desire to risk setting the precedent of actually losing one of these cases, which then forces them to stop these letters (essentially an ad campaign of FUD designed to scare consumers) and opens them up to class action suits in return.

Corporate extortion of private citizens is just another legacy from the Bush years we're going have address some day.


yes bit the cost of rising lawyer fee's would have ment the win was a loss for the family better to pay the 7000 and be done with it than spend 250,000 in defence and become homeless and destitute