Woman accused
of music piracy

The suit by mainland record
labels says she got music
off the Net

In what might be a first for the islands, several mainland record labels have sued a Hawaii woman for allegedly downloading music using the Internet.

The lawsuit is part of the recording industry's nationwide effort to stop music file sharing over the Internet, and seeks statutory damages and attorneys' fees from Big Island resident Maleah Lerma.

Priority Records, Sony Music Entertainment Inc., Virgin Records America Inc., Arista Records Inc. and UMG Recordings Inc. are the plaintiffs in the case, which was filed yesterday in U.S. District Court.

Paul Maki, attorney for the labels, deferred comment to Recording Industry Association of America spokesman Jonathan Lamy. He could not be reached yesterday.

The suit alleges Lerma broke U.S. copyright laws when she "used, and continues to use, an online media distribution system to download copyright recordings."

"In doing so, defendant has violated plaintiffs' exclusive rights of reproduction and distribution," the suit said. "The conduct of defendant is causing and, unless enjoined and restrained by this court, will continue to cause plaintiffs great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money." The suit said Lerma downloaded the recordings in Hawaii.

According to the suit, the recordings allegedly downloaded by Lerma included "Straight Outta Compton" by NWA, "Kingston Town" by UB40 and "Underneath the Stars" by Mariah Carey. A message left for Lerma with a relative was not returned last night.

Hawaii patent attorney Martin Hsia, of Cades Schutte Fleming & Wright, said he believed the suit was a first for the state. But he was not surprised that the recording industry's push to stop music downloads had come to the islands.

"It's like speeding," he said. "When everybody does it, how do you stop it?"

Three months ago, recording executives announced they would file nearly 500 suits in St. Louis, Denver and Washington, D.C. In an RIAA news release on the suits, General Counsel Steven Marks said the Internet "has changed dramatically since we began this campaign."

"Legitimate music services are the wave of the future," he said. "It's as important as ever that we continue to enforce our rights and ensure that fans enjoy digital music in a fashion that supports the creative process."



E-mail to City Desk


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]
© 2004 Honolulu Star-Bulletin --