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Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion, First Edition by Harry Lewis, Ken Ledeen, Hal Abelson

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Chapter 6Balance Toppled

Who Owns the Bits?

Automated Crimes—Automated Justice

Tanya Andersen was home having dinner with her eight-year-old daughter in December 2005 when they were interrupted by a knock at the door. It was a legal process server, armed with a lawsuit from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), a trade organization representing half a dozen music publishers that together control over 90% of music distribution in the U.S. The RIAA claimed that the Oregon single mother surviving on disability payments owed them close to a million dollars for illegally downloading 1,200 tracks of gangsta rap and other copyrighted music.

Andersen's run-in with the RIAA had begun nine months previously with a "demand letter" from a ...

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