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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 September, 2003, 11:17 GMT 12:17 UK
Music firms target 12-year-old
Brianna LaHara
Brianna LaHara did not realise she was committing a crime
A 12-year-old has been targeted by the music industry in its assault on song-swappers, after she downloaded children's rhymes and pop records.

Brianna LaHara, of New York, was one of 261 people served with a lawsuit by the Recording Industry of America (RIAA).

She has admitted swapping music online, and her mother has agreed to pay $2,000 (1,257) to settle the case.

The RIAA is suing hundreds of internet users in the US who it accuses of illegally swapping music online.

It insists it is only going after those that download "substantial amounts" of copyrighted songs.

Grandfather Durwood Pickle, 71, was shocked on Tuesday to discover a lawsuit had been filed against him, saying his grandchildren used his computer during visits to his Texas home.

Subscription fee

Miss LaHara said she was amazed to learn she was being pursued after using the song-swap service Kazaa.

She believed that because her mother had paid a $29.95 (18.80) subscription to the web service she was not committing a crime.

The 12-year-old was discovered to have more than 1,000 copyrighted songs on her hard drive, including Christina Aguilera, Mariah Carey and children's song If You're Happy and You Know It.

Each copyrighted song carries a maximum penalty of $150,000 (94,260)

"If this was something we were profiting from, that's one thing. But we were just listening and sometimes dancing to the music," her mother Sylvia Torres told the New York Daily News.

Ms Torres had originally planned to fight the lawsuit but eventually settled the matter, while her daughter apologised.

"I am sorry for what I have done. I love music and don't want to hurt the artists I love," said Miss LaHara.

'Usual suspects'

The RIAA has filed lawsuits in federal courts across the US on behalf of major record companies Universal, BMG, EMI, Sony and Warner Brothers.

Critics and music fans have accused the RIAA of being heavy-handed.

"They're probably going to get the results they want, but I think it's kind of silly to go after individuals," said Jason Rich, a music fan from Watervliet, New York.

"There are so many web sites out there, people don't know necessarily they're doing anything wrong."

During a Senate judiciary hearing, Senator Dick Durbin questioned RIAA president Cary Sherman on the tactics being used.

"Are you headed to junior high schools to round up the usual suspects?" Mr Durbin asked.

Mr Sherman defended the stance, saying the RIAA was trying to spread the message that file-sharing is illegal.

"Yes, there are going to be some kids caught in this, but you'd be surprised at how many adults are engaged in this activity," he said.

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