Several websites and blogs have recently set up an online fund to
collect money for Patricia Santangelo, who is battling an infringement
lawsuit against the RIAA. In the first two weeks, the sites have
collectively pulled together over $4,000 from 284 donors. Participating
sites include FightTheRIAA.com, BoingBoing, P2Pnet and
DownhillBattle.org. Currently, fifteen sites are part of the effort.
Santangelo, a single mother from New York, has
gained a considerable amount of publicity for her refusal to settle
with the record industry over file-sharing charges. Santangelo could
have paid an out-of-court settlement, but instead chose to fight
against what she claims are false allegations that her family traded
copyrighted music online. A look at the numbers shows why few others
are will to take the hard route that Santangelo is pursuing.
Santangelo’s defense costs have already reached $25,000, well over the
$7,500 settlement originally demanded by the RIAA. Drained financially,
Santangelo had to dismiss her legal team and represent herself in
court. Her determination to continue despite the heavy financial burden
has made her a hero in the eyes of sympathetic bloggers, whose efforts
to trumpet her cause have elevated her plight to national media
attention. These same sites have now organized the fundraiser, which
they hope will cover her past and future expenditures.
The Santangelo fundraiser is part of a growing
level of influence that bloggers are exerting. Many of these same sites
played an instrumental part in Grey Tuesday, an online protest that
successfully distributed millions of free copies of DJ Danger Mouse’s
controversial Grey Album two years ago. Now, as the fund heads towards
five figures, it threatens to become a newsworthy item in itself,
potentially creating yet another public relations headache for the
Story by news analyst Richard Menta.