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Thursday, September 25, 2003
Recording Industry withdraws music sharing lawsuit

Seven major record labels dismissed charges of copyright infringement leveled at a 65-year-old educator, artist, and grandmother from Massachusetts late last week.

Sarah Ward was one of 261 individuals sued by the recording industry for allegedly sharing copyrighted music using peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing systems.

What was the problem? The recording industry charged Ward with sharing songs using the KaZaA filesharing software, but she owns only a Macintosh computer which cannot run KaZaA.

Ward strongly denied using any filesharing software and explained that she listens to classical and folk music, not the rock and hip hop music referred to in the complaint.

The seven record labels sued Ward solely on the basis of "screen shots" from the KaZaA network and information obtained from a controversial subpoena issued to Comcast, Ward's Internet service provider, under the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Comcast did not inform Ward before releasing her identity to the recording industry, a step that might have allowed her to clear her name without the need for a lawsuit.

Although Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) spokesperson Jonathan Lamy told Associated Press that the group is targeting only "proven, egregious offenders," RIAA President Cary Sherman admitted to CNET that the recording industry makes no attempt to contact informally the targets of the lawsuits before suing them.

The seven record labels that sued Ward are Sony Music Entertainment, Inc, BMG Music, Virgin Records America, Inc., Interscope Records, Atlantic Recording Corporation, Warner Brothers Records, Inc., and Arista Records, Inc.

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