Piracy target's daughter, 20, ordered to pay

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. -- Less than a month after the recording industry dropped a music piracy case against its best-known opponent, it has won a default judgment against her 20-year-old daughter.

Federal Judge Stephen Robinson ordered Michelle Santangelo to pay $750 for each of the 41 songs she is accused of downloading illegally -- a total of $30,750 -- because she failed to respond to the record companies' claims.

It was not clear whether the default judgment would end the case. Under federal procedure rules, such judgments are often later set aside so lawsuits can be decided on their merits.

Santangelo's lawyer, Jordan Glass, said Friday he was not permitted to comment on Wednesday's judgment. He would not elaborate.

Jenny Engebretsen, spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America, which is coordinating the thousands of piracy suits filed by the record companies, also declined to comment.

Michelle Santangelo is the oldest of five children of Patricia Santangelo, who became the nation's best-known defendant in the battle against illegal downloading. When Santangelo, 42, of Wappingers Falls, was sued in 2005 by five record companies, she said she had never downloaded music. If her children did, she said, the file-sharing programs, not the parents, should be blamed.

Santangelo refused to settle with the record companies and took her case to newspapers and national television. She became a heroine to defenders of Internet freedom, who helped raise money for her defense.

When the case against her was dropped, the record companies said they would pursue the case against her daughter and her son, 16-year-old Robert. No default judgment was filed against Robert.

The recording industry has filed more than 18,000 piracy lawsuits in federal courts, many against minors, and thousands have been settled with payments to the record companies.
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