UNH student fights lawsuit over music downloads

A University of New Hampshire student accused of illegally downloading songs by Cold Play, David Gray and Vanilla Ice wants to face the music in a court in New Hampshire.

Catherine M. Fillo has retained an attorney to fight the allegations and try to get the case transferred from the U.S. District Court of Colorado, where her parents live, to the District of New Hampshire.

Melanie Bell, her attorney, contends a court outside of New Hampshire hurts her client’s ability to mount a defense because she is a full-time student with limited time and means.

Bell said she plans to file a motion for a change of venue this week.

Fillo, 20, is one of several dozen college students and adults in New Hampshire who have been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America, a group representing the music industry. Students are asked to settle or face heavy financial penalties per song allegedly pirated.

Bell said she and opposing counsel have discussed settlement options, but she said they are still too expensive for Fillo, especially when she maintains her innocence. She said the music industry has indicated it would oppose a motion for a change of venue.

Sony BMG Music Entertainment and others filed suit against Fillo in 2007.

The alleged copyright infringement occurred during the school year when Fillo was on campus, Bell said. She maintains its lawyers have already worked through the New Hampshire jurisdiction, having subpoenaed records from UNH and conducted depositions in state.

At least eight witnesses are also UNH students, Bell said.

In the first summons two years ago, the industry asked for minimum statutory damages for only seven songs, but the complaint was amended last year to add more songs, including Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” according to Bell.

“The number keeps changing, and unfortunately, it’s going in the wrong direction,” she said. “We are considering bringing counterclaims.”

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