Local News

Cary Family Learns Consequences Of Illegal Music Downloads

Posted February 9, 2006 7:32 a.m. EST

— The industry of itty-bitty earpieces, iPods and MP3s is picking up, and the recording industry is on the attack against thousands of people who have illegally downloaded free music.

That's exactly what 18-year-old Jessica Miller did. And her mother was sued for millions of dollars because her daughter downloaded nearly 3,000 songs from Web sites offering free music.

"The papers just kept coming and coming," said Miller's mother, Lynn Scott. "And I kind of ignored them because I thought it wasn't real."

But the lawsuit was real. Scott was one of about 17,000 people -- including 375 individuals and 10 schools from North Carolina -- who has been sued by the

Recording Industry Association of America

since 2003.

Even though it was her daughter who downloaded the digital music files, Scott settled with the RIAA for $3,000.

"There was no way I could pay millions of dollars," Scott said. "They'd never see it. But I did want to do what was fair."

Compact disc sales in 2005 slowed by nearly 8 percent, compared to 2004. Digital sales, in 2005, made up 5 percent of the overall music market.

Legal downloads are changing the recording industry so much, that the RIAA now awards its gold, platinum and diamond sales designations to downloaded singles.

The recording industry credits lawsuits for that.

RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said although the recording industry would never be able to eliminate priacy completely, the lawsuits are a message that there are consequences when people break copyright laws.

"When you go to a legal site, as compared to when you go to an illegal one, the record company and the artists and music service is getting paid," Lamy said. "That doesn't happen when you go to these other illegal peer-to-peer services and download music for free."

But Miller said she has just stopped downloading music all together.

"Now, when we hear music coming out of that room, (we ask) 'Where are you listening to it? Where's it coming from?" Scott said.