Teenager battles record companies over piracy suit

White Plains (NY) - In one of the first real cases of piracy where the defendant is taking a strong defensive position, 16-year-old Robert Santangelo is counterclaiming against five record companies in a case that was first filed last year.

Robert Santangelo is being sued alongside his sister, who is 20, allowing the case to be brought into federal court. Five different record companies are suing the family, alleging that Santangelo’s piracy dates back to 2001. The teen is fighting back, saying the plaintiffs "have engaged in a wide-ranging conspiracy to defraud the courts of the United States."

Among his 32 defense claims, he says the record companies have participated in antitrust violations and that they colluded in the piracy debacle by not warning of the illegality of peer-to-peer (P2P) programs, and in fact he alleges that some record companies supported P2P technology in its early days. What’s more, says Santangelo, is that he never actually illegally downloaded or transferred music. All the music on his PC was ripped from his sister’s purchased music CDs, he says.

Santangelo has filed a countersuit against the companies for damages from slander, legal fees, and from being distracted in school. So far no side shows any sign of pursuing a settlement.