RIAA Preys on Teen in Need of Transplant

The Recording Industry Association of America has done a number of distressing, disgusting, and disgraceful things in its never-ending quest to fill its coffers with ill-gotten gains from every American with an internet connection. The news out of Pittsburgh, however, carries what we have to class as the most depraved stunt we've seen them pull so far.

According to the Pittsburgh ABC-affiliate, the latest amusement for the vampiric-nitwits in the RIAA's legal department has been to sue nineteen-year-old Ciara Sauro for allegedly sharing an industry-crushing ten songs online. Anyone who has been following the RIAA's activities for very long will know that suing alleged file-sharers is nothing new for the self-appointed guardians of the recording industry. What is new, however, are the details surrounding their latest victim. The evil file-sharer they've decided to go after is no iPod-toting high school student with a P2P fetish — she's a disabled pancreatitis patient who has to be hospitalized weekly while she waits for an islet cell transplant. Now, thanks to the RIAA's steamroll-for-justice campaign, she's on the hook for $8,000 — in addition to the mounting medical bills she and her mother already can't afford to pay.

Sauro — who suffers from depression, which by all accounts is growing exponentially in the current circumstances — maintains that she had nothing to do with any file-sharing. She asserts that the account indicated in the complaint as the source of the shares belongs to her estranged father, and was opened after he moved out of the family home. The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania has already entered a default judgment for $8,000 against Sauro — a standard procedural action, which in some cases does not even go before a judge, taken after a defendant fails to respond to a lawsuit — but a Pittsburgh attorney has volunteered to represent her pro bono and seek a reopening of the case. We're not lawyers, but given the exceptional circumstances involved and the difficulty mounting her own defense presented by her condition, we suspect it shouldn't be too difficult to have the judgment set aside and the matter reopened.

The question still remains, though: Who knowingly puts a sick young woman, barely old enough to vote, through that kind of torment? The idea that those responsible weren't aware of Ciara Sauro's condition is unfathomable — the investigation prior to filing should have revealed it, and it would certainly have been obvious when she was served with the complaint. Default judgments don't just file themselves, they require a motion to enter a default judgment and an accompanying affidavit attesting that the Court's standard criteria for entry have been satisfied. One has to wonder about the candor involved — did the motion, ex parte by nature, include all the material facts known that would have enabled the Court to make an informed decision? Surely knowing the defendant was hospitalized with a serious medical condition would have been sufficient grounds for an extension — twenty days is an awfully short time to find a suitable attorney and file a comprehensive response, and it's not made any easier by being confined a hospital bed.

Although we really didn't think it possible, we're left with an even lower opinion of the RIAA than we had before — and a few choice phrases we're too polite to print. The acrid taste left by their actions is tempered, though, by the knowledge that Ciara Sauro now has an experienced advocate of her own. We wish her a speedy resolution to the matter at hand, a healthy transplant, and a rapid recovery.
Justin Ryan is News Editor for LinuxJournal.com.
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