Wednesday, March 3, 2010

San Antonio Woman Must Pay Thousands for Downloaded Music


Long gone are the days that teenagers would congregate at the local record store after school to flip through the newest 45s. While LPs may be enjoying a comeback in some DJ booths, you would be hard-pressed to find a turntable as part of a modern stereo system. Some of you may remember spending hours with a pencil trying to re-respool the cassette system that had an unfriendly encounter with a tape player. That problem is no more. You probably won't even see the person on the treamdill next to you with a portable Discman strapped to his waist. Times have changed and digital recordings have revolutionized how we access and enjoy our music. But, if you aren't careful, finding music on your computer also can cost you a lot of money and time in court.

Whitney Harper of San Antonio is facing a judgment of $27,750 for downloading a total of 37 copyrighted songs for free when she was a teenager, perhaps as young as fourteen. Ms. Harper, who is now 22 and a senior at Texas Tech, visited the Kazaa website and insists her subsequent acquisition of music was done with the belief that the practice was completely legal.

Two years ago, U.S. District Court Judge Xavier Rodriguez determined that Ms. Harper was guilty of infringement and the record labels involved in the lawsuit agreed to a payment of $200 for each song. However, when Harper decided to appeal the decision, Warner Bros., Sony, and others optioned their right to push for the maximum fine of $750 a song. Last week, Whitney Harper lost her case in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and she now fears that bankruptcy may be in her future.

Please make sure that you always read the fine print when making a purchase, especially over the internet. If you do find yourself in a legal bind with a judgment against you that you believe to be unfair, our attorneys can help. Bertolino LLP has lawyers in Austin, Houston, and San Antonio with experience at handling appeals on both the state and federal level. Contact us today and we'll discuss the strength of your case.

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