NEW YORK (By Emily Provansal/ Nettwerk Music
Group) - Canadian-based artist label and management company Nettwerk Music
Group has joined the fight against the RIAA on behalf of consumers who wish to download music.
In August 2005, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed a complaint against David Greubel for alleged file sharing. Greubel is accused of having 600 suspected music files on the family computer. The RIAA is targeting nine specific songs, including "Sk8er Boi" by Arista artist Avril Lavigne, a Nettwerk management client. The RIAA has demanded Greubel pay a $9,000 stipulated judgment as a penalty, though it will accept $4,500 should Greubel pay the amount within a specific period of time.
"Suing music fans is not the solution, it's the problem," stated Terry McBride, C.E.O of Nettwerk Music Group.
Nettwerk became involved in the battle against the RIAA after 15-year-old Elisa Greubel contacted MC Lars, also a Nettwerk management client, to say that she identified with "Download This Song," a track from the artist's latest release. In an e-mail to the artist's web-site, she wrote, "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."
Chicago-based Mudd Law Offices will take on the legal battle. Charles Lee Mudd Jr. has represented individuals subpoenaed and sued by the RIAA since the suits began in late summer 2003.
Mudd stated, "In an effort to combat the continued injustice of the RIAA's consumer lawsuits, attorneys, musicians and artist managers have joined forces to defend the interests of David Greubel and his family in the United States District Court, Northern District of Texas. Together, these parties hope to demonstrate the injustice and impropriety of the RIAA Litigation Initiative." Joining the litigation team will be Scott Lundhagen, an associate with Mudd Law Offices, and as local counsel, John G. Browning of Browning & Fleishman, P.C., Dallas, Texas.
The RIAA has issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to various Internet Service Providers (ISPs). These ISPs include commercial, academic, and private providers of internet service.
"Since 2003 the RIAA has continually misused the court and legal system, engaging in misguided litigation tactics for the purpose of extorting settlement amounts from everyday people - parents, students, doctors, and general consumers of music," Mudd stated. "In doing so, the RIAA has misapplied existing copyright law and improperly employed its protections not as a shield, but as a sword. Many of the individuals targeted by the RIAA are not the 'thieves' the RIAA has made them out to be. Moreover, individual defendants typically do not have the resources to mount a full-fledged defensive campaign to demonstrate the injustice of the RIAA's actions. Today we are fortunate that principled artists and a management company, Nettwerk Music Group, have joined the effort to deter the RIAA from aggressive tactics - tactics that have failed to accomplish even the RIAA's goals."
Nettwerk Music Group has agreed to pay the total expense of all legal fees as well as any fines should the family lose the case against the RIAA.
"Litigation is not 'artist development.' Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love," insists McBride. "The current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists' best interests."
"My family owes a huge debt of gratitude to Mr. Terry McBride and his company and artists they represent," said Greubel. "Further, every music fan, every citizen owes him gratitude for his courage to stand up and say, 'This is not right!' Anyone who has been involved in the legal system knows the feeling of being forced into a position they do not believe in, simply because they did not have the resources to have their day in court. Mr. McBride has stood up, and again said, 'This is not right!' Thank God for people like him."
The RIAA defines itself as "the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry" and its mission statement includes, "to foster a business and legal climate that supports and promotes our members" creative and financial vitality. Its members are the record companies that comprise the most vibrant national music industry in the world. In support of this mission, the RIAA works to protect intellectual property rights worldwide and the First Amendment rights of artists; conduct consumer industry and technical research; and monitor and review state and federal laws, regulations and policies."
Nettwerk Music Group is Canada's leading privately owned record label and artist management company, responsible for managing some of North America's biggest artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne and many others. Nettwerk has several offices located around the world including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Nashville and London. Its home office is in Vancouver, B.C.