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Nettwerk Records takes on the RIAA

Written by Kelsey Sigurdur Sunday, 29 January 2006

The Nettwerk Music Group, a Canadian label, has agreed to pay the legal fees for the Gruebel family, one of the latest in a string of targets in the Recording Industry Association of America'a (RIAA) campaign against fair use.

Litigation is not 'artist development.' said Nettwerk CEO Terry McBride. Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love.

The RIAA has demanded that the Gruebels pay a $9,000 penalty (graciously reduced to $4,500 if they pay quick) for allegedly sharing 600 tracks that were stored on a family computer.

Nettwerk Records got involved in the case when 15 year-old Elisa Greubel contacted MC Lars, an artist represented by the label:

My family is one of many seemingly randomly chosen families to be sued by the RIAA. No fun. You can't fight them, trying could possibly cost us millions. The line 'they sue little kids downloading hit songs', basically sums a lot of the whole thing up. I'm not saying it is right to download but the whole lawsuit business is a tad bit outrageous.

The Gruebels will be defended by Chicago lawyer Charles Lee Mudd Jr. The RIAA has misapplied existing copyright law and improperly employed its protections not as a shield, but as a sword, said Mudd. Many of the individuals targeted by the RIAA are not the 'thieves' the RIAA has made them out to be.

The RIAA has filed as many as 17,000 lawsuits against alleged file-swappers. To date, only one has actually gone before the courts. The Gruebel case may be the second.

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