RIAA Withdraws Piracy Lawsuit Against Mac User

by , 3:30 PM EDT, September 24th, 2003

Sarah Seabury Ward is a 66-year old sculptor and self-proclaimed "computer neophyte" who claims to have never downloaded any copyrighted material, or even installed a file-sharing application. Yet when the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) sent out its scattershot barrage of 261 lawsuits against file-sharers, Ms. Ward was one of the victims, according to an article at the Boston Globe.

The RIAA has since withdrawn the lawsuit, after Ms. Ward's lawyer demanded that they do so. Part of the reason cited by Ms. Ward's attorneys included the fact that she was accused of downloading music through Kazaa, which doesn't even run on her Mac. From the Boston Globe:

Privacy advocates said the suit against Sarah Seabury Ward, a sculptor who said she has never downloaded or digitally shared a song, revealed flaws in the Recording Industry Association of America's legal strategy. Ward was caught up in a flood of 261 lawsuits filed two weeks ago that targeted people who, through software programs like Kazaa, make copyrighted songs available for others to download over the Internet.

"When the RIAA announced they were going on this litigation crusade, we knew there was going to be someone like Sarah Ward," said Cindy Cohn, legal director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet privacy group in San Francisco that has advised Ward and others sued by the music industry. "And we think were will be more."


Other defendants have blamed their children for using file-sharing software, but Ward has no children living with her, Beeler said. Moreover, Ward uses a Macintosh computer at home. Kazaa runs only on Windows-based personal computers.

You can read the full article at the Boston Globe's Web site. We should note that there are two file-sharing clients for the Mac that do work on the Kazaa network, mIMac and Neo, though neither is put out by the Kazaa company.

The Mac Observer Spin:

It's interesting to see how her Mac helped this woman, but the more important aspect of this particular case is that the RIAA has been shown to be wrong, and was forced to drop its suit.