Does She Look Like a Music Pirate?
When Tanya Andersen opens the door to her modest apartment in suburban Portland, Ore., her Maltese-terrier mix, Tazz, runs over and wags his tail in a friendly hello. The 45-year-old single mother doesn't seem like much of a fighter. She spends most of her days sitting on an overstuffed sofa with a heating pad behind her back to ease chronic pain and migraines that have kept her on disability for nearly five years. Her voice is soft and halting. Yet this woman is behind a fierce assault on the music industry and its tactics for combating music piracy on the Internet. "I've just got to keep doing what I believe is right," she says, with Tazz curled up next to her on the couch. "And that's fighting and letting people know what's happening."
While the recording industry has gone after thousands of people, Andersen is unusual. Of the 40,000 people the RIAA says it has targeted for legal action, at most 100 have decided to defend themselves in court, says Fred von Lohmann, a lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a civil liberties group. Few want to pay the legal costs of fighting the music industry, so most settle cases quickly, even if they believe they're innocent. Of the people who defend themselves, only a handful have taken the next step of suing the record industry for their lawyers' fees, and only a couple have won reimbursement. Andersen, one of the few winners on all counts, is the first to file a broad lawsuit that has put the RIAA on the defensive.