RIAA Finally Drops Santangelo Infringement Case
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has finally dropped its case against Patricia Santangelo, a sympathetic defendant and single mother. The RIAA will now shift its legal attention towards the Santangelo children, according to recently-filed federal court papers. (Very nice RIAA – one step forward, two steps back –Ed.)
The trade group had originally targeted Santangelo for illegally uploading copyrighted music in Elektra v. Santangelo, part of an ongoing series of lawsuits against individual file-swappers. In its motion papers, the trade organization asked that the dismissal be “without prejudice”, a status that offers the option to sue again.
Attorney Richard Gabriel, representing the RIAA, noted that the group could win damages against the mom, but chose to pursue the children instead. Moving forward, the RIAA will now direct its efforts against both Michelle and Robert Santangelo, Jr., based on depositions and monitored internet activities.
In the motion papers, Gabriel described a prolonged, complicated, and expensive process against Patricia Santangelo, one that will probably outstrip the benefits of any eventual legal victories involving the children. Additionally, the case leaves a smelly trail of media attention and unwanted scrutiny for the short-sided trade group. The coverage swelled late last year, when Santangelo appeared on the Early Show on CBS, Today Show on NBC, and other media outlets. The latest development partially validates the defense pitched by Santangelo, and may empower other defendants who want to stand up and fight.