RIAA settles with 12

Barely 24 hours after suing alleged file swappers around the United States, the recording industry has settled its first case, agreeing to drop its case against a 12-year-old New York girl in exchange for $2,000.

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) filed 261 lawsuits Monday against computer users it said were exclusively “egregious” file swappers. One of the targets wound up being Brianna Lahara, who was identified by the New York Post as a 12-year-old honors student who lives in a New York City Housing Authority apartment.

The trade group said Tuesday that it had agreed to settle with the preteen’s mother for a sum considerably lower than previous settlement arrangements.

“We understand now that file sharing the music was illegal,” Sylvia Torres, Brianna’s mother, said in a statement. “You can be sure Brianna won’t be doing it anymore.”

The quick settlement points both to the public relations dangers of the RIAA’s shotgun lawsuit approach and to its simultaneous effectiveness. Other sympathetic defendants are likely to emerge, but the group is setting a fast precedent of pushing people toward settlement.

“We’re trying to send a strong message that you are not anonymous when you participate in peer-to-peer file sharing and that the illegal distribution of copyrighted music has consequences,” RIAA chief executive Mitch Bainwol said in a statement. “And as this case illustrates, parents need to be aware of what their children are doing on their computers.”

The RIAA had previously settled with four college students sued in April for between $12,000 and $17,000. The group said Monday that it had already reached agreements with some of the latest round of defendants to settle for about $3,000, but that future agreements would likely carry a higher price tag.

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