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12-year-old settles music swap lawsuit

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The recording industry filed 261 lawsuits against individual Internet music file sharers. CNN's Deanna Morawski reports (September 9)
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LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A day after being sued for illegally sharing music files through the Internet, a 12-year-old girl has settled with the Recording Industry Association of America.

She's the first of 261 defendants to settle their lawsuits with the association.

Brianna LaHara agreed Tuesday to pay $2,000, or about $2 per song she allegedly shared.

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

The suit claimed LaHara had been offering more than 1,000 songs on the Internet, using the Kazaa file-sharing service.

The RIAA said it was pleased with the settlement. There are 260 cases still pending.

"We're trying to send a strong message that you are not anonymous when you participate in peer-to-peer file-sharing and that the illegal distribution of copyrighted music has consequences," said Mitch Bainwol, RIAA chairman and chief executive officer. "And as this case illustrates, parents need to be aware of what their children are doing on their computers."

Monday, RIAA filed lawsuits against 261 individual Internet music file-sharers and announced an amnesty program for most people who admit they illegally shared music files through the Internet. The amnesty would only offer protection for songs represented by the RIAA and not from publishers, musicians or others with rights to songs.

Cary Sherman, president of the RIAA, said the civil lawsuits were filed against "major offenders" who made available an average of 1,000 copyright song files.

Record companies blame illegal music file-trading for a 31-percent fall in compact disc sales since mid-2000.

Sherman also announced the Clean Slate Program that grants amnesty to users who voluntarily identify themselves, erase downloaded music files and promise not to share music on the Internet. The RIAA said it will not sue users who sign and have notarized a Clean Slate Program affidavit.

The offer of amnesty will not apply to about 1,600 people targeted by copyright subpoenas from the RIAA. The decision was made a few weeks after U.S. appeals court rulings mandated that Internet providers turn over the names of subscribers believed to be sharing music and movies illegally.

Until now, the only music file-swapping lawsuits filed by the RIAA were against four college students accused of making thousands of songs available on campus networks. Those cases were settled for $12,500 to $17,000 each.

Sherman said Monday that the RIAA had negotiated settlements in the range of $3,000 with a "handful" of Internet users who had learned from their Internet service providers that they were being targeted for lawsuits. The industry is also pursuing subpoenas at universities around the country seeking to identify music file traders.

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