RIAA 1, Single Mom 0: RIAA Defendant Loses, Must Pay $222,000 For Allegedly Sharing 24 Songs

The first RIAA jury trial has ended and the single mom accused of sharing 24 songs has been ordered to pay $222,000 by a jury of her peers.

“This is what can happen if you don’t settle,” RIAA attorney Richard Gabriel told reporters outside the courthouse, according to Wired. “I think we have sent a message we are willing to go to trial.”

RIAA Jury Finds Minnesota Woman Liable for Piracy, Awards $222,000 [Wired Threat Level]

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  1. PinkBox says:

    Absolutely ridiculous.

  2. morganlh85 says:

    These people are disgusting. They should really be ashamed.

  3. MonkeyMonk says:

    “This is what can happen if you don’t settle”

    So essentially what they’re saying is that if we accuse you of stealing (rightly or wrongly) it’s best to just pay up rather than confront us in a court of law.

    The RIAA is operating by mafia tactics more and more except instead of breaking your kneecaps they just sue you into oblivion.

  4. topgun says:

    If only the laws would come down that hard on child molesters, muggers, murderers, sex offenders and the like.

  5. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    And of course, RIAA refuses to address the real problem, which is that they refuse to capitalize on the online market, not to mention 95% of the stuff they produce is absolute crap. Maybe I should sue for having to listen to the torture of another rap song about sex or whatever they talk about.

    And they just signed their death warrant. They can and will put themselves out of business.

    I hope the court finds them guilty of antitrust violations, collusion, and racketeering, and fines them some exorbitant amount, like $900 billion. That’s the amount I would pick if I were on that jury.

  6. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    It’s dumb PR on the RIAA part if they insist on this $220,000. They should instead offer her to settle for $1000 or so and not come across as the bad guys.

  7. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Just for that comment, your honor, I’d like to sue RIAA for blackmail , racketeering, mail fraud, extortion, collusion, antitrust violations, and emotional trauma from listening to their crappy music.

  8. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    @topgun: The law doesn’t come down that hard on child molesters and murderers? I’d bet most murderers and child molesters serving life in prison would love to be able to pay $220,000 and walk out free.

  9. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Not to mention anyone with a pulse will be so repulsed that they’ll boycott RIAA forever. Over what? $24? That’s what they should have gotten. The fair market value of one song is $1. Therefore, they’re entitled to $24. That’s it. Not a cent more. The jury should have awarded RIAA nothing.

  10. stanfrombrooklyn says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil: So by this logic, you should be able to walk into Barnes & Noble and steal books off the shelf that don’t meet your criteria of fine literature? Start your own record company if you don’t like what’s out there.

  11. ancientsociety says:

    So the value of each song was $9,250?

    So I assume that CDs will now start costing between $111,000 and $166,500?

  12. NoWin says:

    3 words:

    Long live bitTorrent

  13. cnc1019 says:

    While I believe that if you do something wrong (such as “stealing” a song) then you should be punished and that punishment should hurt or it would not be a punishment at all. In my area, if you get convict of “Theft under $50″ you typically get a fine of around $90 bucks. That is reasonable. Stealing a $1 song and having to pay $9,250 for each one is not.

  14. Pupator says:

    Cases like this are far too complex (as are most cases) for the “jury of your peers” model. It’s not fair to the lady that complex legal matters are decided by people with no legal training or background. If you don’t know any better or understand all the terms and intricacies of what’s going on I bet the RIAAs case is pretty convincing.

    I don’t know how to fix the broken system (the RIAA/music system or the US legal system) but they sure are broken!

  15. supra606 says:

    This is just absolutely pathetic and disgusting. Anyone who was following that trial has to be more than a bit shocked that this is the result. Whether or not this lady was downloading (or making available for download) music (I defy you to tell me how the prosecution proved either of those things beyond reasonable doubt), I think we can all agree that $222,000 is far beyond egregious. However, now the RIAA and their tactics are in the light of public scrutiny. The time of them extorting money out of thousands of innocent people without most of the population knowing is gone. I think justice will finally be served when people vote with their dollars and just simply stop buying their products. If you do continue to buy their products, know that this is what they’re doing with your money – destroying people’s lives.

  16. savvy9999 says:

    What I find hard to believe is that this result was from a jury trial. In America!

    C’mon, O.J., time for lunch.

  17. MonkeyMonk says:

    If I interpreted the verdict correctly, she was not fined for “stealing” the song, she was fined for sharing the song on her Kazaa account and thus allowing it to be distributed for free. I guess the jury assumed that 9,250 people on average might have downloaded the song from her.

    Regardless, I still think the RIAA are a bunch of bloodsucking asshats.

  18. ry81984 says:

    Is there a list of the names of the jury?

    Those people have become the worst people in the world today!!!!

    We need their emails and address and send them thousands of letters telling them how dumb they are to screw over a woman who did nothing wrong.

  19. Instigator says:

    @topgun: That would be expecting way too much. Children don’t have a powerful industry working in their interests.

  20. MeOhMy says:

    Let’s hope it washes out as a classic Pyrrhic Victory.

  21. Trai_Dep says:

    The press coverage of this is a bit simplistic. One of the things that sunk this case was the woman replaced her hard drive a month after receiving her RIAA notice. Then lying that she replaced it a year later. The RIAA lawyers were able to point out this is fishy, and the jury bought it.

    Also, the jury only had one member that ever downloaded music (legit or not). And had several members that didn’t even have a computer.

    So, odds are quite good that the next jury trial won’t go as well for the RIAA.

    I hope more of these cases to to court. It will even out the bad news that this loser of a case represented, and make the RIAA lose even more money (they’ve admitted that they’re losing money using this technique).

  22. Tush says:

    It’s a sad, sad day.

  23. savvy9999 says:

    Here are the tracks she got busted for [blog.wired.com]

    * Guns N Roses “Welcome to the Jungle”; “November Rain”
    * Vanessa Williams “Save the Best for Last”
    * Janet Jackson “Let’s What Awhile”
    * Gloria Estefan “Here We Are”; “Coming Out of the Heart”; “Rhythm is Gonna Get You”
    * Goo Goo Dolls “Iris”
    * Journey “Faithfully”; “Don’t Stop Believing”
    * Sara McLachlan “Possession”; “Building a Mystery”
    * Aerosmith “Cryin’”
    * Linkin Park “One Step Closer
    * Def Leppard “Pour Some Sugar on Me”
    * Reba McEntire “One Honest Heart”
    * Bryan Adams “Somebody”
    * No Doubt “Bathwater”; “Hella Good”; “Different People”
    * Sheryl Crow “Run Baby Run”
    * Richard Marx “Now and Forever”
    * Destiny’s Child “Bills, Bills, Bills”
    * Green Day “Basket Case”

    The RIAA should be paying her to distribute Richard Marx and Bryan Adams material.

    Next useful step would be to ask each of these artists how much of that $222k they’re going to get, and how they’re planning to spend it.

  24. sleze69 says:

    Just so that we are clear: does anyone here think that she wasn’t sharing those files on Kazaa? The pricetag of ruling not withstanding, she WAS sharing.

    While I agree the $222k is way overboard, they caught her redhanded sharing the files on Kazaa. Her assertion that someone else was using her internet connection and used the exact same username that she uses EVERYWHERE ELSE is absurd.

  25. harshmellow says:

    @Pupator: It’s not fair to the lady that complex legal matters are decided by people with no legal training or background.

    I would add that probably the majority of the jury doesn’t know anything about computers or file sharing. So they are learning about it from the RIAA. Neat.

    I somehow doubt that the RIAA “won” as much as the woman “lost.” I wonder what her lawyer’s angle was…

    At this point, the RIAA is making some lawyers very rich, making themselves and their client record companies HATED, and not much else.

  26. supra606 says:

    @savvy9999: I’m guessing none of them are going to see a dime for three reasons:
    1. This is probably going to be appealed ASAP.
    2. If Jammie Thomas ends up losing her appeals I would think she’d just declare bankruptcy.
    3. I highly doubt that on the off chance the RIAA sees this money, any of it is going to any artist (They need to cover their losses from the “sue em’ all” campaign. Even they’ve admitted it’s losing them money).

  27. 3drage says:

    This is a sad, sad country we live in.

  28. ry81984 says:

    That i@sleze69:

    That is not absurd.

    She could have set up her computer and kazaa and not actually downloaded anything with it. Anyone in her household could have signed on to Kazaa which already had her username in it.

    There is no way to prove it was her because there is no evidence on the harddrive.

    It is reasonable to think someone else used her computer, downloaded the songs, and burned them for their own use.

    I use to throw parties at my house all the time, many people downloaded from my computer. I would never pay for it as it was not my fault.

    If were going to sue the equipment owners then we might as well sue the ISP and backbone providers.

  29. erratapage says:

    I just have a hard time believing that any jury would make this decision. As a matter of justice, it is just so wrong.

  30. Shadowfire says:

    The big problem is the inequality in law enforcement, penalties, and the like. I know that as a manager, I can have charges filed on up to three times the value of an item when it is stolen (i.e. scambarber steals a pack of razor blades, worth $10… I can file for up to $30 in theft).

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, real thieves (shoplifters and such) will never see any real penalty, and those who copy have their lives ruined.

    On the good side, the RIAA will never see a penny. This woman will file bankruptcy, and they’ll be out the money anyway.

  31. Goatweed says:

    this kind of a ruling will only increase the hatred for them by Joe Consumer, and will drive people to be more careful about getting usic online (moving to private trackers for example). Also, if artists might shift to the ways of Radiohead & handle cd distribution themselves, since they’d move more product than if they went with the hated record companies.

    And I can’t see how 200K is justifiable, I mean come on.

  32. BrianH says:

    I hate the RIAA, but this whole “single mom” BS is ridiculous. It shouldn’t matter if it’s a single mom, a horny teenage boy or a gay geriatric cripple — one’s personal situation is IRRELEVANT.

  33. supra606 says:

    @sleze69: I agree with you that she did it. However, ip addresses and mac addresses can be spoofed. It’s been proven time and time again and even admitted by the RIAA. Therefore, they have absolutely no concrete proof other than her having acted suspiciously. On that grounds alone, I argue that there is enough reasonable doubt that they should not have found her guilty.

    I also agree with Harshmellow – everything you said.

  34. Yourhero88 says:

    I fear the Karmic repercussions that are to be bearing inevitably down on these shadowy villains who run this criminal organization.

    C’mon God, get those lightning bolts out!

  35. @Pupator: “It’s not fair to the lady that complex legal matters are decided by people with no legal training or background.”

    Complex legal matters aren’t. Factual matters are. Juries decide issues of fact. Judges decide issues of law.

  36. erratapage says:

    Why does it matter what songs she downloaded/shared? It’s not as if the RIAA is really interested in protecting the artists. No, it’s all about big entertainment conglomerates making big money for people who already have big bank accounts.

    I made my decision about the case on the principle that single mothers who work for a living should not be fined $222,000 for using Kazaa, much less $6,000 or $9,000. It is a ridiculous fine for a ridiculously insignificant act.

  37. Okay, guys, the RIAA are the scum-sucking bottom-feeders of the universe, but the problem here isn’t the JURY, it’s the LAW.

    She was not found GUILTY, she was found LIABLE, which requires only a preponderance of the evidence, not evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

    The jury answers questions like “did she or did she not upload songs to kazaa?” when there’s a factual dispute over it.

    The problem here is that copyright LAW itself is bad; heavily weighted in favor of industry and against consumers, restricting traditional fair uses, etc. The jury frankly didn’t have a lot of choice about finding her liable, since the law is pretty clear on that point. It’s simply a bad law.

    (And you’ll note the most contentious issue — whether the RIAA had to prove others downloaded the songs to prove damages under the statute — was decided by the judge, because it was a legal (not factual) question: “The RIAA did not have to prove that others downloaded the files. That was a big bone of contention that U.S. District Judge Michael Davis settled in favor of the industry.”)

  38. erratapage says:

    Okay… in honor of BRIANH, I don’t think that anyone who works for a living should be fined $222,000 for using Kazaa, much less $6,000 or $9,000.

  39. MightyPen says:

    Not a surprising result, she was clearly liable for the copyright violations. Using the same user name and password on your kazaa account as your other accounts? Swapping out your hard drive after getting a nasty RIAA letter?

    I’m not shocked at all she was hit with something other than the minimum $750, she wasted 3 days of the jury’s life with bs arguments.

    This isn’t a criminal case, the burden on the plaintiff isn’t beyond a reasonable doubt, its the much lower preponderance standard, which was easily met in this case.

    For crying out loud, she wrote a paper in 1999 on Napster, she was not an unsophisticated computer illiterate person.

  40. TPK says:

    cNet published an article analyzing how they came to their verdict. It’s somewhat disturbing, but interesting:

    “Four reasons why the RIAA won a jury verdict of $220,000″
    [www.news.com]

  41. savvy9999 says:

    @Eyebrows McGee:

    In light of other recent SCOTUS rulings, I doubt that the judge’s ruling on the no-need-to-prove-someone-else-downloaded-the-songs would stand. The present court is very suspicious of claims made by persons who have not been specifically injured.

    Without even judging other merits, recent suits brought up against parts of the PATRIOT Act, etc have been summarily dismissed because the plaintiffs (usually orgs like the ACLU) could not prove that they themselves were the ones being ‘spied upon’ or whatnot.

    Meaning, if the RIAA cannot prove that other people actually d/l’ed the songs (and thus the RIAA was injured under the law), then it cannot bring suit.

    If this lady pushes this, IMO it will get reversed on that basis alone.

  42. ScramDiggyBooBoo says:

    Its just a sacrificial lamb to set an example! That poor lady, she will be in debt for the rest of her life!

  43. Stan LS says:

    @IRSistherootofallevil:

    “The fair market value of one song is $1. Therefore, they’re entitled to $24.”

    Then she should’ve paid the fair market value to start with. Now she has to pay the fine. If you park your car an expired meter, you don’t get a ticket for 25 cents, right?

  44. warf0x0r says:

    @Shadowfire: What she should do is appeal the judges decisions of what the jury had to do. That’s the next legal step. Wether they listen to the appeal is a matter of continued law writing I guess.

  45. Stan LS says:

    @Shadowfire:

    “I can have charges filed on up to three times the value of an item when it is stolen (i.e. scambarber steals a pack of razor blades, worth $10… I can file for up to $30 in theft).”

    You are missing the point, the bigger problem was not her stealing, but distributing.

  46. yg17 says:

    @Stan LS: You don’t get a ticket for $5,000 either.

  47. hubris says:

    There’s something else which seems to be getting lost in the shuffle; there are a number of ways that she could very well NOT have known she was sharing.

    There are any number of bots, rootkits, etc. which can take over a computer and set it up as an FTP server, share things on Kazaa, bit torrent, etc. All it takes is one missed patch and you’re screwed. And there are rootkits that will stay on your computer even after it’s patched and virus scans declare everything hunky dory.

    It even could explain the user name, if the bot scanned the computer and found this user name that they claim she used everywhere.

    Computers are shadowy things to a LOT of people, and a lot of people don’t know what the hell is going on with them. She very well *may* be innocent. Even the new hard drive can be explained, if she took it somewhere to have it cleaned after hearing from the RIAA and they told her it was hopelessly compromised. I’ve had users do that at the Helpdesk where I used to work.

    There’s a lot more gray area in the computer world than a lot of people think.

  48. scoobydoo says:

    If I am not mistaken she can still appeal? Surely this isn’t over yet?

  49. Sam Glover says:

    Keep in mind that the RIAA did not prove Ms. Thomas ever shared a single song. At the most, they proved she had 24 songs available for download.

    Damages are a necessary component of every civil claim. The RIAA never showed that they actually lost any revenue, since they never proved Ms. Thomas ever shared a song.

    For that, they won a verdict of $222,000.

    This is barely Round 1. Post-trial motions and appeals will follow.

  50. cdan says:

    Maybe this is what it takes to get people to call their effing legislators.

  51. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    File bankruptcy then countersue. If the RIAA sues you, you MUST countersue. They’ll back off.

  52. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    Then I guess we’ll live in a world where we pay $9,000 per song on iTunes and can’t share it with our friends…? What? That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard.

    I paid money for it, I’m entitled the right to use it in any way I see fit, short of selling it or mass-distributing it. Besides, this kind of stuff should be promoted: there are countless songs that I heard (and liked) on Pandora that I subsequently BOUGHT on iTunes.

  53. Sam Glover says:

    @cdan: Indeed. In a way, this ruling may have been better for consumers than a win. Although if it stands on appeal, Ms. Thomas may be in a world of hurt. I don’t know enough about bankruptcy law to know whether she would be able to discharge this judgment.

  54. topgun says:

    @stanfrombrooklyn:
    OK maybe not a perfect analogy on my part, but compare the SERIOUSNESS of the crime. Does the punishment fit the crime in this case?

  55. ikes says:

    HOME TAPING IS KILLING MUSIC

  56. Jaysyn was banned for: http://consumerist.com/5032912/the-subprime-meltdown-will-be-nothing-compared-to-the-prime-meltdown#c7042646 says:

    @ry81984:

    She was *sharing* songs, not downloading songs.

  57. CurbRunner says:

    IRSISTHEROOTOFALLEVIL AT 12:01 PM said:
    “95% of the stuff they produce is absolute crap.”

    This is true.

    I’ve attended enough studio recording sessions to understand that the totality of what is to be selected for tracks is often a struggle to endure.

    Except in very rare instances, how many consumers actually like every single song on every CD that they have to purchase? For the most part, popular musicians are publicly recognized for only a few “hits”.
    Under the guise of artistic expression, the rest of their material often amounts to nothing more than fluff to fill out an album/CD for sale.

    When you purchase a CD, you have to pay for the fluff to get at the one or two tracks that you may like.

  58. Stan LS says:

    @yg17:

    The point was punitive damages. Keep in mind she was also distributing.

  59. lucabrazi says:

    She broke the law, got caught, refused to settle without taking the chance of this or a much larger penalty at trial and tried to lie her way out in court–counting on the fact that a “jury of her peers” would take sympathy on the poor single mom vs. the big, bad record company and ignore the law. Oops. If the 220K is too much, well, she should have thought of that before she decided to jeopardize her family’s welfare over something this stupid. You don’t have to like the RIAA and how they do what they do, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to sack up and take responsibility for your actions. I think diamonds are over-priced, controlled by a cartel, and rarely benefit those who labor to dig them out of the ground. Anyone think that gives us the right to smash in the window at tiffany’s?

  60. Sam Glover says:

    @Stan LS: They never proved she distributed a single song.

  61. zaky says:

    Consumerist,
    I love you guys—I really, really do. But stop the ‘single mom’ crap. Yea, the RIAA is pretty repulsive but she is in the wrong. I’m not sure what sort of ridiculously self-entitled world we live in. Just pay for fucking music and everything will be fine. People throw down 5 bucks for a disgusting cup of Starbucks crap but won’t penny up 99 cents for a great song?

  62. snprbob86 says:

    I just wanted to point out:

    She was found LIABLE not GUILTY. This was a civil tort suite, not a criminal trial.

    I’m by no means a lawyer, but it is my understanding that the rules are not entirely the same as a criminal trial. I do not believe the “beyond a shadow of a doubt” thing applies.

    Regardless, I agree that the amount rewarded to the RIAA is grossly excessive.

  63. ry81984 says:

    @zaky:
    But its a poor single mom!!!
    Those bastards!!!!

  64. Stan LS says:

    @Sam Glover:
    Ah, you’re right. In any case, she’s lucky they didn’t charge her with all the 1702 songs.

  65. notme93 says:

    My question is, what would’ve the punishment been if she had just shoplifted (24 songs/8 songs an album) 3 CDs?

  66. Chicago7 says:

    I heard on the news that she was sharing 1700 songs. Maybe they only put her on trial for the ones they could prove?

  67. jmackowi says:

    Everyone does have the option to just start buying used CD’s, copy the files on to your PC, and then sell the CD again on ebay. You then own DRM free files, well below what you’d pay on iTunes. Of course, this is until the RIAA sues the ebay and the entire internet for piracy.

  68. protest says:

    the fact that almost everyone i knew in college was using kazaa to download stuff just makes this all the more rediculous. everyone did it, and a couple did get busted.
    but in my twisted logic, shouldn’t it be the file sharing website be the one getting sued? i think they did sue or did something to kazaa a few years ago, so why is this still coming up?

  69. notme93 says:

    @jmackowi:
    Sony BMG’s chief anti-piracy lawyer: “Copying” music you own is “stealing”
    source: [arstechnica.com]

  70. Stan LS says:

    @protest:

    Twisted logic indeed. That’s like suing a car maker for facilitating the driving part of drinking and driving ;)

  71. OnceWasCool says:

    Jury was made of of everyone that could NOT get our of jury duty. Did they not understand that RIAA is the new name of Satan?

  72. mconfoy says:

    This was a slam dunk case, and th RIAA knew it. Defending her makes the RIAA look good. And the person asking for the emails of the jury is walking the fine side of the law on that one. Besides the fact the Journey was one of the groups would have made me find her guilty for much more by continuing to inflict noise pollution on the world.

  73. consumerd says:

    about a sentence:

    Long live bit-torrent, VPN(PPTP), and relakks.de

  74. beccamanns_theotherwhitemeat says:

    this makes me want to go out and download something. problem is,
    there’s nothing out there worth downloading in this age of crappy music.

  75. mac-phisto says:

    @Sam Glover: do you think it’s possible that the judge’s decision not to require the plantiff to prove damages could in effect sabotage their case on appeal?

    one would certainly hope. his decision says to me that simply the existence of music files (owned or not) & a file sharing program capable of distributing them on the same computer could land anyone in this same situation.

    this is why my media is stored on a separate machine behind a 2nd firewall.

  76. supra606 says:

    @protest: I’m believe Kazaa is currently being sued into oblivion.

  77. Anonymous says:

    I want to know WHAT THE HELL THESE SONGS ARE that they are worth
    that much. Seriously…I wanna know the song titles cos this is some
    more bullshit.

  78. thalia says:

    Well, there goes her childrens’ college educations. And her retirement. And the car. And the house…

    Really, RIAA. 24 songs? The most she should have been fined was $24, $500 if you want to be an ass about it and charge ridiculous fees. But over $200,000???

    How the hell do these people sleep at night?

  79. Sam Glover says:

    @mac-phisto: If Judge Davis, who I generally think is a consumer-friendly judge, doesn’t reverse his jury instruction himself or pursuant to a post-trial motion, then yes, I think there is a good chance of getting a reversal on appeal.

    I think you are right about the potential significance, but I am not sure that judges and juries have a good enough understanding of technology to see it.

  80. savvy9999 says:

    @DarklingLena: read my post above, I listed them

  81. @zaky: You honestly think copyright violation is a crime worthy of bankrupting the accused?

    (She is a single mom, it’s not like the headline is misleading/incorrect/confusing.)

  82. obbie says:

    i hate the RIAA

  83. lestat730 says:

    @MonkeyMonk: who knows, maybe the mafia actually has its fingers in the RIAA! $222,000… ouch, that has got to hurt. Seems ridiculous and very harsh for ‘allegedly’ sharing only 24 songs.

  84. Javert says:

    @supra606: Not beyond a reasonable doubt…the standard is by a preponderance of the evidence in a civil trial.

    @ry81984: Someone else did it? From her PC in her home using the program she downloaded, her responsibility.

    @MightyPen: Exactly.

    @BrianH: Preach on brother.

    @supra606: Civil case, you are liable. Reasonable doubt not relevant.

    Hey I have an idea…quit stealing stuff. I would not be hesitant to pass on liability to the file sharing service because they do have purposes outside of stealing though many of you fail to see this (they are used when multiple groups are involved in the same study and need to readily share their data quickly for quick peer review and feedback).

    Seriously, why do you feel downloading something you do not have a right to is not stealing and then sharing it is not trafficing in stolen goods? Yes, the judgment seems high but I everyone knows the risks of this activity. Single mom…wah…cry me a freaking river. Again, it probably would have been better if she had not distributed copyrighted material.

  85. Javert says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: If this was a married rich guy, do you really think the headline would have read “Married Wealthy Man Fined $220k..” No because this would not have the dramatic effect of this title.

  86. Anjow says:

    @nursethalia:

    How the hell do these people sleep at night?

    Horlicks.

  87. seanSF says:

    @notme93: She wasn’t sued for stealing songs, she was sued for distributing them. So, to make your question relevant, ask what the penalty is for someone who sells (or even gives away) pirated CDs out of her house.

    Still, copyright law in this country sucks balls. It’s more about the money than the art.

  88. Stan LS says:

    @seanmcleary:

    “Still, copyright law in this country sucks balls. It’s more about the money than the art.”

    Uh, you don’t work for free, right?

  89. zaky says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation:

    It’s stealing and assisting other people in stealing. Stealing is stealing. Because a song is not a physical good doesn’t exempt it from stealing. I’m with Javert on this one.

  90. mechanismatic says:

    The contrast between the result of this case and class action lawsuits against corporations is very indicative of which side the court system seems to favor.

    Individuals are bankrupted by judgments. Companies settle for terms that require them to give away or discount products they’ve already spent money on.

    Maybe the woman could issue a coupon for $5 off her homemade baked goods for each of the recording companies she supposedly stole from instead of having to pay the judgment amount. That would seem to match the way that companies get out of harsh lawsuit judgments…

  91. mechanismatic says:

    @Javert: Quit stealing stuff? You mean like quit making copies of cds you already purchased for your own personal use under the concept of fair use – that Jennifer Pariser, lawyer for Sony BMG, recently stated was stealing? If people were judged by the RIAA’s definition of stealing, everyone in America who has ever recorded a song off the radio to a tape is a thief. We should all turn ourselves in and fill up the prisons with millions of petty crooks.

  92. Mr. Cynical says:

    I hate the RIAA. Always have. Vowed never to buy a CD back in 1999/2000 during the whole Metallica-Napster stuff.

  93. Stan LS says:

    @Frequent Flyer:

    Yea, man. How dare people demand to get paid for their work! Unbelievable! You work for free, right?

  94. Anonymous says:

    So how many of you are up for a year long ban on music purchases?
    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, until we as consumers are willing to band together and collectively tell RIAA to kiss our rumps, they will keep on doing exactly this.
    We need to get organized, get enough people mad enough, and have someone draft a petition to RIAA and the major labels that tells them we will no longer buy ANY music until they stop with the lawsuits.
    That wont happen and you know it.
    Which is sad.
    We have the power to shut down RIAA and send a major message to the record companies and most folks aren’t willing to do it because they just can’t wait for the next crappy album from their favorite crappy band…

  95. TechnoDestructo says:

    Well, I guess my boycott isn’t ending anytime soon.

  96. mechanismatic says:

    @Stan LS: Apparently the artists work for free because the RIAA rips them off just as it rips the consumers off. If the artists were in control rather than the business suits, you could make more of an argument for getting paid for “their work.” As for “their work” in reference to the RIAA, all it seems to produce are lawsuits.

  97. Stan LS says:

    @mechanismatic:

    But that’s between the artists and the RIAA, isn’t it?

  98. Keter says:

    The only music I have purchased in the past three years was purchased directly from musicians who made their own CDs. This trend will continue until RIAA dies in it’s own spew, and DRM chokes the life out of whatever companies insist on continuing to make it impossible for consumers to enjoy the content they purchased without having to tote around a stack of CDs (an albatross around the neck). Vote with your $…it’s the only thing they understand.

  99. wring says:

    what if she doesn’t pay up, is she going to jail?

  100. mechanismatic says:

    @Stan LS: So you’re saying we shouldn’t boycott companies that use sweatshop labor either? That’s just between Kathy Lee Gifford and the low-wage laborers she exploited.

  101. mechanismatic says:

    @wring: We don’t have debtors prisons. It was a civil trial. Most they could probably do is garnish her wages. But I’m imagining this is the final word on the matter. Ray Beckerman doesn’t think it’s over either.

  102. sslman says:

    I can’t believe people are even siding with the women in this case. The fact that Consumerist is playing the single mom gags me. If anything this women should be ashamed for setting an absolutely horrible example for her children.

    Illegally downloading music is the largest, faceless crime in America. Because of this, people accept it, which is in utter absolute crap. People have to remember that there are others in the music industry besides the ‘suits’ and the ‘greedy artists’. There are studios, studio owners, studio managers, session musicians, vocal coaches, recording engineers, assistant recording engineers, record producers, programmers, mixers, photographers, etc. Whenever ever ANYONE illegally downloads music, you are STEALING food off of my table. I AM a recording engineer, and since the introduction of wide-based file sharing, I have witnessed a vast decrease in overall business, and so has everyone else.

    Do you have any idea what it’s like to have YOUR work, something you’ve put as much as you can into, STOLEN!? Do you know what it’s like to watch you friend struggle because of something as ‘harmless’ and illegally downloading music?

    I can’t believe America, or even the world, feels like this. My parents brought me up to be fair to others and to have a core structure of values. I can’t believe others have not had this same sort of background. How can anyone, with any self respect, steal from others?

    I, just like everyone else in the world (unless you live in a socialist society) can not work for free. I live a humble and modest life, just like the vast majority of people in the music industry. Not everyone has mansions on each coast and brushes their teeth with champagne. Most of us are just like everyone else, hard working, honest people trying to make ends meet.

    I have a question to pose to EVERYONE who has, and will, post in defending illegal downloading.

    How can you steal my work, steal my food, steal my health care and live with yourself?

  103. waldy says:

    I have to agree with Zaky and Javert on this one. Sharing music you haven’t paid for is stealing. You don’t have to like it, but trust me that it’s critical to ensure that the majority of people who work in the industry–engineers, songwriters, musicians–get paid. You stop paying artists, they stop doing what they do. First lawsuits that rest on any new legislation-or, as in this case, on any new interpretation of old legislation–are often harsh, as the $220,000 here. But if that’s what it takes to get folks to stop stealing intellectual property from artists because the consumers feel entitled to it….

  104. cde says:

    @sslman: Easy, you never had it to begin with. I have never purchased a song you have edited, and probably never will. If I didn’t download the music, I would never have bought it either. You can’t steal what is not there in the first place.

  105. cde says:

    @waldy: Every song that was brought up in the trial was Record Company IP, not artist IP. The artist NEVER owned it. Not even for one second.

  106. sslman says:

    @cde: The post I made was directed and ‘me’ being everyone in the music industry. So surely someone out there has worked on the music you download

  107. Stan LS says:

    @mechanismatic:

    Dude, you can do whatever you want. But which part of “boycott” involves stealing???
    As for the sweatshop labor… Vast majority of factories in the third world are what we would consider “swetashops” here in the West. Whoever boycotted Kathee Lee and caused those factories to close down did those poor people a disservice. What do you think the consequences were? What do you think happened to them after they closed down? All those people magically got good paying/non exploitive jobs elsewhere? If they could do that, they wouldn’t be working at a sweatshop in the first place.

    People like you need to use their brain first before you get all emotional.

  108. $222,000? For 24 songs? Shit you’d have a lesser punishment for just trying to sneak out the store with the cd under your shirt.

  109. sslman says:

    @Papa Midnight:

    Totally different things you’re talking about. The store can prosecute you for stealing the physical disc. That’s larceny, which is a criminal act.

    Illegally downloading music is a copyright violation, hence the civil penalty.

  110. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    There should be a law banning the abuse of the judicial process with penalties between $7 billion and $7 trillion. And that includes RIAA and people like fancypants pearson.

  111. mechanismatic says:

    @Stan LS: I never said I supported “stealing” music. You and I and everyone posting here didn’t hear all the evidence, so we can’t conclude that the woman actually did distribute the music (rather than “steal” it as everyone seems to think the case was about…). I’m not defending the woman’s supposed actions. I’m just condemning the injustice of the result of the trial. Even if the woman were guilty of doing what the RIAA accused her of, the penalty does not fit the violation.

    So you’re saying it’s okay to exploit people as long as you’re improving their lives by some small percentage? What should have happened is that the sweatshops should have had their conditions improved, their workers’ wages brought to decent standards, or else never have set up shop there in the first place. The analogy is the same for the recording industry. If the artists, the actual creators of the work, got a larger portion of their labor, I might be more inclined to patronize the labels. If the industry spent less money on pushing crappy music, paying off radio stations to push crappy music, paying their suits more than they pay the people who actually create the music, and stop calling their own customers criminals, thieves, and pirates, much less stop treating them as such, it would be in a far better position.

    But while we’re on the topic of “stealing,” music is not a physical object. You can’t steal it. You can steal a copy of a medium on which it is recorded, which would rightfully be called stealing. You can download a copy of a recording of music, which is copyright violation. But if you weren’t going to spend money on something in the first place, you can’t be stealing from the people who made it. Before filesharing was available, this was called listening to the radio. Do you also think it’s stealing if you read a book from the library that you would never purchase a copy of from a bookstore?

  112. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    What’s next? Armed guards at Barnes & Noble to force people to buy every book that they read? I go to Borders pretty often to read (sometimes buy) books that I might not have bought had I not been able to sample it at the store.

    This is all a slippery slope. And it needs to stop NOW.

  113. Stan LS says:

    @mechanismatic:

    “You and I and everyone posting here didn’t hear all the evidence…”

    Agreed. But the jury did and they made their decision based on that.

    “Even if the woman were guilty of doing what the RIAA accused her of, the penalty does not fit the violation.”

    Sure it did. We are a nation of laws and the law was applied here.

    “What should have happened is that the sweatshops should have had their conditions improved, their workers’ wages brought to decent standards,”

    Maybe the standards are decent. Not comparable to western standards, maybe, but decent for where they are. 20 cents an hour might not sound a lot to you, but these folks are not paying $3k a month rent for a small one bedroom in manhattan.

    “…or else never have set up shop there in the first place.”

    …and the workers would’ve either ended up prostituting or turning to crime to feed themselves. But you didn’t think of that, did you?

    “If the artists, the actual creators of the work, got a larger portion of their labor, I might be more inclined to patronize the labels.”

    Why do you care? The artists seemed satisfied enough to work with these labels. Nobody put a gun to their head to sign contracts.

    “If the industry spent less money on pushing crappy music, paying off radio stations to push crappy music”

    If you think certain music is crappy then don’t listen to it and definately don’t buy it. Again, nobody is putting a gun to anybody’s head to force them to listen to anything. If there weren’t a market for crappy music, it wouldn’t have been made, cause it wouldn’t have been profitable.

    “paying their suits more than they pay the people who actually create the music,”

    But these very suits are the ones who have made the industry where a succesful musician can ride around in $300k cars and live in a multimillion dollar mansion, etc. Surely, if the musicians thought they could do better then to deal with these suits they would have done so. Is their decision to make, and they are free not to sign up with labels.

    “But while we’re on the topic of “stealing,” music is not a physical object. You can’t steal it”

    Sure, and you can’t steal an idea, per se, but we still have patent law don’t we?

    “But if you weren’t going to spend money on something in the first place,”

    Ah, I see. So if some dude makes minimum wage and he steals a lamborghini, then its not really stealing, cause, obviously, at his salary he would’ve never bought a lamborghini in the first place, right? Solid logic right there.

  114. vladthepaler says:

    RIAA does a lot of things they shouldn’t, attacking fair use in various ways etc. But sharing music with anyone who wants to grab it from your computer is clearly not fair use. It isn’t even a grey area. If she really did do that (and the linked article really doesn’t do a good job conveying what the evidence was) then she deserves to be found guilty, and she ought to pay the statutory penalties.

  115. mechanismatic says:

    @Stan LS:

    “Agreed. But the jury did and they made their decision based on that.”

    Actually the jury made their decision based on the instructions the presiding judge gave them, which may have altered the decision they would have made otherwise. We’ll see if there’s a successful appeal.

    “Sure it did. We are a nation of laws and the law was applied here.”

    And Nazi Germany was a nation of laws and it was not against the law to kill Jews. Not all laws are just. Not all applications of law are just.

    “Maybe the standards are decent. Not comparable to western standards, maybe, but decent for where they are. 20 cents an hour might not sound a lot to you, but these folks are not paying $3k a month rent for a small one bedroom in manhattan.”

    Relative standards aren’t very comforting if you’re options are starving while making 20 cents an hour or starving while making nothing. They’re not paying $3k a month rent because they can’t afford that much, or anything close to it. If they were making decent wages they might be able to pay decent housing costs. Improving a group of people’s quality of living 1% while improving your company’s bottom line by 10% is not ethical. Exploitation of anyone is never ethical.

    “…and the workers would’ve either ended up prostituting or turning to crime to feed themselves. But you didn’t think of that, did you?”

    The white man brings the jobs that save the poor from having to prostitute themselves or turning to crime. Amen! Yeah right. The wages are low enough that the workers might end up doing all three of those things in order to make enough to not quite get by. You think the people running the sweatshops are that high-minded? If the owners of the companies have no qualms about exploiting poor workers, why do you think the managers at the sweatshops are going to look out for people? You don’t think there are other forms of exploitation going on as well? Child labor, prostitution, sexual exploitation, drug dealing…?

    “Why do you care? The artists seemed satisfied enough to work with these labels. Nobody put a gun to their head to sign contracts.”

    Doesn’t seem like the artists are satisfied enough. Many of them don’t seem to think they can make it without getting signed. Luckily this trend is changing with independent music being more accessible via the internet and recording being cheaper with technological developments. The labels themselves seem quite intent on perpetuating the idea that they are the only way to go. Maybe nobody put a gun to the artists’ heads to sign contracts, but even then, there’s an extensive history of artists getting ripped off by the labels. Look at the Bay City Rollers…

    “If you think certain music is crappy then don’t listen to it and definately don’t buy it. Again, nobody is putting a gun to anybody’s head to force them to listen to anything. If there weren’t a market for crappy music, it wouldn’t have been made, cause it wouldn’t have been profitable.”

    Crappy music is profitable because many music listeners are drones who will actually buy the popular album. But with Payola schemes, the recording industry influences the charts, influences the perception of what’s popular, and essentially buys airtime that otherwise might have been used to play less popular songs that could by all standards become popular if it got enough airtime. The place where this is happening is the internet. People are told what to listen to on the internet. They’re not told what to buy.

    “But these very suits are the ones who have made the industry where a succesful musician can ride around in $300k cars and live in a multimillion dollar mansion, etc. Surely, if the musicians thought they could do better then to deal with these suits they would have done so. Is their decision to make, and they are free not to sign up with labels.”

    The suits made the industry using unethical business practices such as payola schemes and price fixing. And only the very successful musicians are riding around in $300k cars and living in mansions. The rest are still touring because the labels charge them for advertising and everything else, eating into the artist’s profits. It is their decision to make, and more and more of them will make better decisions in the future.

    “Sure, and you can’t steal an idea, per se, but we still have patent law don’t we?”

    Are the songs that are being “stolen” being patented by someone else? Are these “pirates” claiming the music was their inventions? No. They’re violating copyright law.

    “Ah, I see. So if some dude makes minimum wage and he steals a lamborghini, then its not really stealing, cause, obviously, at his salary he would’ve never bought a lamborghini in the first place, right? Solid logic right there. “

    If you could duplicate a lamborghini without depriving the car dealership of the original car, no that wouldn’t really be stealing. That would be copying. And if the lamborghini were copyrighted, then that would be a copyright violation, not stealing.

  116. waldy says:

    @cde:

    Regardless of who the song belongs to, the people who worked on it still make their living from its legal sales. Distributing or taking the music for free is stealing from those folks. I think SSLMAN said it quite eloquently.

    While I don’t work in the music industry, I too am an artist, and want to make this point very, very clear: if you stop paying those who make art, they will eventually stop making the art. (Or, they’ll get day jobs, and the quality of their work will necessarily worsen.)

    Do you do YOUR job for free? Well, we don’t want to, either.

  117. @zaky: So if someone steals five bucks from me it would make sense for a jury to award me $500,000 in a civil trial?

    Since when did all kinds of theft become equal?

  118. EmmaC says:

    While I am sympathetic on the high price she must pay (automatic copyright case loss means she has to pay other side’s legal fees), the ruling is fair. She was warned to stop by the RIAA in an IM and she continued. Copyright law protects artists, writers, musicians, painters, photographers, etc . . . Copyright laws were needed because, as evidenced by some of the posters here, people are willing to steal from them. When someone writes a song, hires musicians, rents a studio, pays a producer etc . . . then they own the song and can post it online for free. Until then, they do not own the song or have permission to post the song! Just as copying and posting a book online is violating that author’s copyright, so is posting a song online that one does not own.

  119. EmmaC says:

    Copyright violiation is stiff. The standard penalty for breaking the copyright law per song is between $750 and $30,000 per song. They do not have to prove actual and potential damages. If she had made a profit off of this, the fines could have been as high as $250,000 per song and she could’ve faced jail time. Copyright law is stiff but it’s made that way to prevent people from violating other people’s copyrights. It was clear she knew she was doing it (was warned), continued, and that is why the jury was probably unsympathetic with her.

  120. EmmaC says:

    zaky, she wasn’t penalized for stealing the songs. She was penalized for violating copyright. The penalties are not in correlation to the value of what she stole–those are standard statutory penalties–fines that are set the way speeding tickets are set. And there is currently legislation in Congress that would increase the statutory fines for violating copyright. My best advice for anyone sharing copyrighted music online, posting it or allowing others to download it, is to stop doing it!

  121. Stan LS says:

    @mechanismatic:

    “Actually the jury made their decision based on the instructions the presiding judge gave them…”

    …and that’s exactly how it works in every other case. The judge instructs the jury. Nothing different here.

    “And Nazi Germany was a nation of laws and it was not against the law to kill Jews”

    Comparing nazis killing Jews to the breaking of copyright could’ve been offensive if it wasn’t so laughable. Seriously, man, try that defense next time you try to get out of a speeding ticket.

    “They’re not paying $3k a month rent because they can’t afford that much”

    Uh, no, they are not paying that much because the cost of living over there is different. My brother went to Egypt in mid 90′s, and his hotel stay was a few bucks a night, a decent sandwich ran 25 cents, and a coke was something like 8 cents. And he was probably getting ripped off as a tourist.

    “Exploitation of anyone is never ethical.”

    Unless people are being forced to work, no one is exploiting anyone.

    “The white man brings the jobs…”

    Why does race have to do with anything? Most of factories in the third world (ran by “white man” or by a local) are what we would consider here a sweatshop.

    “The wages are low enough…”

    The wages are decided by the market. If the workers can get jobs that pay better, they would. Again, you don’t know how much food costs in the third world so you can’t really say if the wages are low or not. I live in NYC and here, if you are single and make $100k a year you are barely middle class, else where in the states you are upper middle class. So again, it all depends on the cost of living. 20 cents an hour might sound nothing to you, but that’s only because you are thinking in terms of US prices.

    “Doesn’t seem like the artists are satisfied enough. Many of them don’t seem to think they can make it without getting signed.”

    Ok, so here you admit that the “suits” provide a service that artist think they need. Services cost money.

    “there’s an extensive history of artists getting ripped off by the labels. Look at the Bay City Rollers…”

    …and there’s an extensive history of people gettingg ripped off by used car salesmen. i guess that makes it ok to go still cars out of their lots. Look if artists get ripped off, they should go to court and make their case there.

    “The suits made the industry using unethical business practices such as payola schemes and price fixing.”

    Sure, there’s has been a case of payola here and there, but it still doesn’t rpove that the whole industry has been made based on that. If you have proof otherwise you should take them to court.

    “because the labels charge them for advertising and everything else, eating into the artist’s profits”

    That’s a laugh. That’s like saying that Pepsi’s advertising/marketing department is eating into the company’s profits. Hah! Advertisement/marketing is done to promose revenue which has a direct impact on profit. If you suggest that marketing is not essential then you have very little business sense.

    “No. They’re violating copyright law.”

    Thanks for admitting that she broke the law.

    “That would be copying. And if the lamborghini were copyrighted, then that would be a copyright violation, not stealing”

    Which is stealing. If it wasn’t, then no one would bother copyright anything.