Music downloaders sued in federal court

Steve Gonzalez Mar. 17, 2006, 7:45am

Four major record company giants took on two southern Illinois music lovers in federal court over copyright infringements.

Song BMG, Mowtown Records, Arista Records and UMG Recordings filed two separate suits in U.S. District Court against Theresa Robinson of Mt. Vernon and Ronnie Stewart of Marion seeking damages and injunctive relief under federal copyright laws.

The record companies claim that Stewart and Robinson used the Internet to download copyrighted recordings and distributed the music to the public, or made the music available for distribution to others.

According to exhibits provided by the record companies, Stewart and Robinson used the peer-to-peer file sharing software called "Kazaa."

"Defendants have violated Plaintiffs' exclusive rights of reproduction and distribution," the complaints allege. "Defendants' actions constitute infringement of Plaintiffs' copyrights and exclusive rights under copyright."

The record companies claim the alleged acts of infringement have been willful and intentional, in disregard of and with indifference to the rights of each of them.

"The conduct of the Defendants' is causing and, unless enjoined and restrained by this Court, will continue to cause Plaintiffs great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money," the complaints claim.

According to court documents, Robinson was sharing 814 files from artists like, Ruben Studdard, Busta Rhymes, Master P, Frank Sinatra and from the musical Chicago.

Stewart was sharing files that included artists like B.B. King, U2, Isley Brothers and Al Wilson.

The record companies are seeking an injunction that states:

"Defendant shall be and hereby is enjoined from directly or indirectly infringing Plaintiffs' rights under federal or state law in the Copyrighted Recordings and any sound recording, whether now in existence or later created, that is owned or controlled by Plaintiffs (or any parent, subsidiary, or affiliate record label of Plaintiffs) ("Plaintiffs' Recordings"), including without limitation by using the Internet or any online media distribution system to reproduce (i.e., download) any of Plaintiffs' Recordings, to distribute (i.e., upload) any of Plaintiffs' Recordings, or to make any of Plaintiffs' Recordings available for distribution to the public, except pursuant to a lawful license or with the express authority of Plaintiffs.

"Defendant also shall destroy all copies of Plaintiffs' Recordings that Defendant has downloaded onto any computer hard drive or server without Plaintiffs' authorization and shall destroy all copies of those downloaded recordings transferred onto any physical medium or device in Defendant's possession, custody, or control."

They are also seeking damages for each downloaded music file, costs of the suit and attorney fees.

The record companies are represented by Steven Mandell and Steven Baron of Chicago.

The cases have been assigned to Phil Gilbert in Benton.

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