If they weren’t already unpopular enough with a large part of the online music file sharers, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has managed to score a spectacular PR own goal by suing a dead woman for swapping music files.
The Associated Press reported that investigators at the RIAA identified Gertrude Walton as a prolific sharer known as “smittenedkitten” and set about bringing this evil distributor of music to justice.
A federal lawsuit was duly filed, with the RIAA claiming that Mrs Walton had shared more than 700 songs through P2P networks.
But there was a slight problem: the defendant was a computer-illiterate 83-year-old grandmother who has never owned a computer.
And there was an even bigger problem: she had died the month before the lawsuit was filed.
After being notified of the upcoming legal action, the dead woman’s daughter, Robin Chianumba, faxed a copy of her mother’s death certificate to RIAA adding, “I am pretty sure she is not going to leave Greenwood Memorial Park (where she is buried) to attend the hearing”.
This king size cock-up does nothing to RIAA’s bully boy reputation. In 2003 the association successfully sued a twelve year-old girl for copyright infringement after her hard drive was found to be harbouring an MP3 file of her favourite TV show. Her working class parents were forced to shell out two thousand dollars in a settlement.