RECORDING INDUSTRY GOES AFTER POOR MAINE STUDENTS
TREVOR MAXWELL, PORTLAND PRESS HERALD - Chris Leavitt, a student at the
University of Maine in Orono, was among the seven Maine students named
in recording industry lawsuits last month. His family borrowed $5,000
from his grandmother to settle the case. The Recording Industry
Association of America says illegal file-sharing costs the industry
billions of dollars. Anna Lenentine plays basketball and softball at the
University of Maine at Presque Isle. Her mother and stepfather are
disabled, and she works at McDonald's to pay for school.
Lilianne Berube studies nursing at the University of Maine in Orono. She
takes home less than $50 a week from her job at a Chinese restaurant and
has considered dropping out because of her struggles to afford school.
Colby Dunn is a junior forestry major at the University of Maine at Fort
Kent. On weekends, he works for his dad's burial-vault business.
These are three of the seven college students in Maine who were sued in
federal court last month by the Recording Industry Association of
America, and another round of lawsuits is on the way against University
of Maine System students. . .
[Lawyer] Ray Beckerman. . . said the industry is desperate to maintain
an outdated distribution system and the huge profits tied to it.
Beckerman claims the legal tactics used to sue students are
Beckerman has emerged as the most visible opponent of the industry . . .
"Being a copyright lawyer, and being someone who doesn't like bullies,
it was a natural that I jumped in," he said. . .
One of the lawyers entering the fray is Mittel, of the Portland firm
MittelAsen LLC. . . Mittel disagrees with recording industry lawyers
that the simple act of storing an audio file -- if that folder is
accessible to other users of a network -- represents piracy. For the
students who have not settled, the RIAA has asked for minimum judgments
from the courts of $750 per shared file. Mittel says that figure has no
relation to any actual harm done to the industry, so it is
"Some of my clients have tendered what they could scrape together by way
of settlement money, and that has been rejected. Some have decided they
are going to pay what is required and are raising the money," Mittel
said. "Some can't pay. I don't know what is happening with students at
Harvard or the University of Virginia or the University of Michigan.
Almost everybody who has been targeted in Maine has no, or very little,
money.". . .