Nettwerk Takes On RIAA

Nettwerk Music Group CEO Terry McBride has upped the ante in the music downloading wars. McBride’s company has joined in the fight by siding with David Greubel, who is accused of having 600 music files on the family computer and was subpoenaed in August by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Among those music files is “Sk8er Boi” by Nettwerk management client Avril Lavigne.

The RIAA has demanded Greubel pay a $9,000 stipulated judgment – or half that if payment is made in a specific amount of time. Instead of paying up, Greubel is going to fight it out in a Texas district court – with Nettwerk’s help.

A Chicago law firm is taking the case and Nettwerk is paying the Arlington, Texas, family’s legal bills – pitting artist management against the major record labels for possibly the first time in the downloading drama. McBride has had enough, and Nettwerk will also pay any fines incurred by Greubel should they lose the case.

“Suing music fans is not the solution, it’s the problem,” he said in a statement. “Litigation is not ‘artist development.’ Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love. The current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists’ best interests.”

Nettwerk got involved in the case when 15-year-old Elisa Greubel e-mailed MC Lars, another Nettwerk client, to say she identified with his track “Download This Song.”

“My family is one of many seemingly randomly chosen families to be sued by the RIAA. No fun. You can’t fight them, trying could possibly cost us millions. The line ‘they sue little kids downloading hit songs,’ basically sums a lot of the whole thing up,” she wrote.

David Greubel has retained a team of attorneys, led by Chicago-based Charles Lee Mudd Jr., who has represented others hit with RIAA subpoenas since the organization began filing them.

“Since 2003, the RIAA has continually misused the court and legal system, engaging in misguided litigation tactics for the purpose of extorting settlement amounts from everyday people – parents, students, doctors and general consumers of music,” Mudd said in a statement. “In doing so, the RIAA has misapplied existing copyright law and improperly employed its protections not as a shield, but as a sword.

“Many of the individuals targeted by the RIAA are not the ‘thieves’ the RIAA has made them out to be. … Today, we are fortunate that principled artists and a management company, Nettwerk Music Group, have joined the effort to deter the RIAA from aggressive tactics – tactics that have failed to accomplish even the RIAA’s goals.”