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After threatening for weeks to go after those who swap music files via the Internet, the Recording Industry Association of America on Monday delivered 261 lawsuits in federal courthouses across the country, including Dallas. Surprisingly, many of those named by the trade organization, which represents its member record labels, were city officials, including Mayor Laura Miller, former chief of police Terrell Bolton and others who the RIAA claims have been illegally exchanging songs online. Miller, quoting Luther Vandross, her favorite singer, vows to stop trading files till the suit has been resolved. "Don't want to be a fool," she said yesterday at City Hall.
According to legal papers filed in federal court, Miller is accused of having more than 1,000 illegally downloaded songs on her city-provided computer, including the complete works of Vandross, Tony! Toni! Toné!, Barry White and Cat Stevens, as well as such songs as Soundgarden's "Power Trip," XTC's "Mayor of Simpleton," King Crimson's "Arena of Terror," T-Bone Walker's classic "Trinity River Blues" and the Clash's "Police & Thieves." Bolton, recently fired from his post by City Manager Ted Benavides, is named in a separate suit. Among the 2,393 songs he allegedly downloaded from KaZaA and Aimster in the past four years are Barbara Mandrell's "Pity Party," Warren Zevon's "Poor Poor Pitiful Me," Julie London's "Cry Me a River," avant-garde band Duotron's "Wanh!", comedian Chris Tucker's 1998 routine "Take This Badge and Shove It" and, surprisingly, N.W.A.'s immortal gangsta-rap classic "Fuck Tha Police."
Also named by the RIAA in its litigation were several other City Hall employees, including Benavides, who the trade organization claims downloaded such tracks as Bratmobile's 2000 college-radio hit "You're Fired," the Mistreaters' "You're Fukkin' Fired," James Brown's underrated "And I Just Do What I Want" and the Franklin Brothers' 1950s rockabilly hit "Oh, Laura." City Councilman Don Hill allegedly downloaded the entirety of Deion Sanders' 1995 album Prime Time, which included such tracks as "Say Hi to the Bad Guy" and "It Ain't Over Yet."
Surprisingly, some of Dallas' wealthier citizens have also been accused of pirating music, including Dallas Cowboys owner-GM Jerry Jones, whose computer allegedly contains the collected works of British psychedelic-rock pioneers Soft Machine (including several versions of the band's oft-bootlegged "Face Lift") and jazz drummer Max Roach's "Pieces of Quincy." Dallas Maverick Dirk Nowitzki was tagged for possessing the complete Kraftwerk, while Texas Ranger Juan Gonzalez was sued for downloading every song titled "Cry Baby," which the RIAA puts at 132. --Robert Wilonsky