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Consumer Reports

12-year-old honor student among those hit with music-sharing suit | (KRT) NEW YORK - A shy Manhattan schoolgirl who gets a kick out of nursery songs and TV themes was among 261 people sued Monday for downloading music from the Internet.

Brianna LaHara, a curly-haired 12-year-old honor student who started seventh grade Monday at St. Gregory the Great Catholic School, couldn't believe she's one of the "major offenders" the music moguls are after.

"Oh, my God, what's going to happen now?" she asked after hearing of the suit. "My stomach is all in knots."

Told she may have to go to court, Brianna's eyes widened behind wire-rimmed glasses and she said, "I'm just shocked that of all the people that do this, I'm on the list."

The Recording Industry Association of America said the suits filed Monday included about 60 that targeted suspects in New York who downloaded more than 1,000 songs.

The group blames computer users such as Brianna, who use software programs to trade music with others on the Internet, for a 30 percent drop in music sales. Each person sued Monday could be liable for fines up to $150,000 for each poached track.

Experts had predicted a large number of the suits likely would name youngsters.

"Nobody likes playing the heavy and having to resort to litigation, but when your product is being regularly stolen, there comes a time when you have to take appropriate action," said Carey Sherman, president of the recording association.

Sherman warned that the group may file thousands more lawsuits against people who use programs like KaZaA, Grokster, Gnutella, Blubster and iMesh.

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Brianna's mother, Sylvia, 40, director of a nurse placement agency, said her daughter was helping her 9-year-old brother with his homework when the New York Daily News arrived at their apartment with word about the suit.

"For crying out loud, she's just a child," the mother said. "This isn't like those people who say, `My son is a good boy,' and he's holding a bloody knife. All we did was use a service."

The mother said she signed up for KaZaA, paying a $29.95 fee. "If you're paying for it, you're not stealing it, so what is this all about?" she asked.

She said Brianna downloaded music by Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey, along with the themes to television shows like "Family Matters" and "Full House" - and even the nursery song that begins, "If you're happy and you know it, clap your hands."

"That's really threatening to the music industry," she scoffed.

"If this was something we were profiting from, that's one thing. But we were just listening and sometimes dancing to the music," said the mother.

She vowed to engage a lawyer to fight the suit, which she termed "ridiculous."

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