Jury Slaps File Sharer With $1.5 Million Penalty Over 24 Songs

The third time was not the charm for Jamie Thomas-Rasset, who has spent the last several years wrapped up legal wranglings with the Recording Industry Association of America over 24 songs she downloaded through Kazaa back when people still used Kazaa. The latest development — a jury in her third trial has found her liable for $1.5 million ($62,500/song) in damages to Capitol Records.

Said a Cylon rep from the RIAA:

We are again thankful to the jury for its service in this matter and that they recognized the severity of the defendant’s misconduct… Now with three jury decisions behind us along with a clear affirmation of Ms. Thomas-Rasset’s willful liability, it is our hope that she finally accepts responsibility for her actions.

Earlier this year, the judge in the second trial had reduced the “monstrous and shocking” original $1.92 million judgment to only $54,000, with the RIAA willing to cut that to $25,000. Thomas-Rassett, however, rejected the offer and opted for a new trial.

This trial is not the end of the road, said Thomas-Rasset’s lawyer, “We intend to raise our constitutional challenge again before Judge Davis… The fight continues.”

Jammie Thomas hit with $1.5 million verdict [Cnet via avclub.com]

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  1. obits3 says:

    “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive FINES imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.”

    Keep up the good fight and hope for smarter juries =)

    • wrjohnston91283 says:

      The RIAA was willing to cut the fine to $25K or about $1,000 per song prior to this most recent trial

      • Illusio26 says:

        $1000 per song for something that sells for 99 cents on itunes. Yeah that’s pretty fair.

        • SG-Cleve says:

          The issue is not that she downloaded 24 songs. The issue is that an unknown number of uploads occurred (anywhere from zero to thousands per song), where other people obtain the song from her computer. So your calculation should be 99 cents times 24 times the number of uploads.

          Since the number of uploads is unknown, the law provides for statutory damages which is what happened here.

          • Kryndar says:

            Who has a 1000:1 upload download ratio? Yes more than face value seems fair but 1000X more is ludicrous. In addition how many people went out and bought an albulm after sampling one of these songs and liking it?

            • foofad says:

              I think one of the arguments was that because of how torrents work, small chunks of the file could be uploaded to tons and tons of people, so she’s an enabler even if she doesn’t have a thousand to one seed ratio.

              • Kryndar says:

                This may be the case, and I would still argue against it as she is not transfering a full song to anyone in that case therefor a diffent methodology would be needed to determine a suitible increase over market value of the music for the fine, but she was using Kazaa not a a torrent program.

        • p. observer says:

          I might be wrong because i don’t know exactly how kazaa works but if its p2p part of the punishment is for the uploading ergo she only downloaded each $0.99 song once but she may have uploaded that song many more times. However i find it hard to believe she uploaded each song 62500 times

          • ShadowFalls says:

            The “may have uploaded” is the point. At no time has there been proven that a single song was uploaded to anyone buy in an interested party of the RIAA. How can you get damages if you can’t prove anything that caused said damages? That fact alone eludes me. I am guessing all the jurors are just incredibly dumb for not a single one of them to understand this simple logic.

            • DanRydell says:

              Maybe you’re the one who is really dumb, because you don’t understand what statutory damages are.

              • Difdi says:

                Being fined $62,000+ for stealing something that sells for, at most, $25 (assuming you like only one song on a CD and have to buy the entire disk to get it) is clearly an unconstitutionally excessive fine.

            • Billy says:

              The jury was not dumb. The jury was required to find that way because the judge ruled that those were the rules (ie. if the songs were in the shared file, it’s sharing).

          • dolemite says:

            That’s the problem. IMO, she’s only liable for what they can prove. They can prove she downloaded each song once. What kind of world do we live in when people are sentenced and fined for hypothetical crimes? “Well, she MIGHT have uploaded the song 50,000 times…or maybe none…we’ll just have to imagine she did it …ummm 10,000 times? How about 20k? What’s the biggest number someone might believe?”

            • sagodjur says:

              “What kind of world do we live in when people are sentenced and fined for hypothetical crimes?”

              We don’t live in that kind of a world.

              This is a civil trial in which she was sued by the plaintiff for copyright infringement. There are no criminal charges involved. In such cases that actual damages are not able to determined, statutory damages are assessed.

              And in this case, the statutory damages are absurd.

              • Groanan says:

                ” In such cases that actual damages are not able to determined, statutory damages are assessed.”

                Actually the plaintiff gets to decide anytime before the end of the trial whether to ask for their normal damages or the statutory damages, and whatever they decide they have to live with.

                $150,000 for a single willful infringement of a copyrighted work might not be enough if what was infringed made the owner lose millions in profit.

    • evnmorlo says:

      The judges are the ones who are supposed to enforce that. Unfortunately it is a common law statute that judges must have an IQ lower than the lowest juror, bailiff, or gavel.

    • Big Mama Pain says:

      This isn’t a fine, it’s a judgment for damages. Haha, don’t you think that if that was a defense, you definitely wouldn’t be the first genius to think ok it?

    • kujospam says:

      That isn’t a fine. A fine is when the government charges you with. This is a tort or civil penalty. To make up the harm for what she did. Now do I think it is right or even remotely accurate to what she really did? No. But that doesn’t mean the laws around it are bad.

    • Leksi Wit says:

      She should have paid the $25,000 for being a thief. I don’t like the music industry but copyright infringement and taking of other people’s which earns them a livelihood content is still stealing. This has cost the RIAA a ton of money to go into retrial. As far as I’m concerned, the defendant got exactly what they deserved. Now it’s time to take responsibility for your actions and pay up, Ms. Thomas-Rasset.

  2. areaman says:

    $62,500 per song for stealing a recording. $0 (for Wells Fargo) for taking a car. And yes the car was given back.

    I’m sure Thomas-Rasset will be happy to give back the shitty music as well.

    • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

      Not even for stealing a recording, but simply for obtaining a COPY of that recording without paying. Thereby depriving the rightful owners of a possible dollar or so per song and absolutely nothing else.

      • Billy says:

        Well, it’s actually for downloading and sharing (according to the article).

        • ktetch says:

          actually, its for POTENTIALLY sharing. they could only prove one copy of each song distributed… to the investigators

          (I’m thinking about writing a book on this, but i’ll wait at least another year until it’s sorted, because this will go to retrial, AGAIN)

          • Billy says:

            I understand, but that was sort of a big issue with the case in the first place (ie, the definition of “sharing”). Because the judge ruled that placing the files in a shared folder=sharing, she was liable for sharing in addition to downloading.

            I’m sure that issue will be appealed.

      • craptastico says:

        the cost primarily comes from the sharing aspect. theoretically she could have given it to a billion people, depriving the artist of a lot of a billion dollars.

        • Difdi says:

          Theoretically doesn’t hold up in court. If she did share it back out, then of course the RIAA can prove it, right?

        • RvLeshrac says:

          Theoretically, I could’ve sold 48 trillion tonnes of black-tar heroin yesterday. And you could theoretically have mailed a bomb to LA filled with enough nuclear material to wipe it off the planet.

          Fortunately, our legal system is supposed to ignore what could have *THEORETICALLY* happened, in favour of the crimes that were *ACTUALLY* committed.

    • AngryK9 says:

      You forgot $0 for all of the Wall Street thieves and jackass politicians who cost this country trillions becuase of their unbridled greed.

  3. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    Can’t find the words to describe the injustice. Even if she was willful, snarky, and sharing these 24 tracks with everyone, $62,500 is not justice. It’s disgusting.

    • Groanan says:

      Wait, if she was sharing to everyone she would be undercutting the copyright holder’s ability to make any profit.

      If they can legitimately prove that she cost them 1.5 million dollars worth of sales, then that should be the penalty.

    • Griking says:

      Is this fine for stealing (downloading) the songs of for sharing them with the world?

      I do believe that the person should be punished for stealing but the punishment for stealing the 24 songs online via Kazaa really shouldn’t be any higher than if she went into a Walmart and stole 2 CDs.

    • The cake is a lie! says:

      I agree. The fine for sharing the files is higher than the fine for other artists who steal the work and use it as their own.

  4. brianisthegreatest says:

    Talk about beating a dead horse. Something needs to be done to protect her from getting these judgments against her from the jury. Call file sharing stealing, terrible, unmoral or whatever you can think of. It’s still not evil enough to have to owe 1.5 million for 24 songs.

    The debate grows old.

    Honestly, it makes me want to fall back to old habits. Any real file sharer could put her infringement list to shame. I don’t want to give them the excuse that their business model is failing because I download songs, so I don’t. But, seeing things like this make it so very tempting.. hell, at the least it could be worth their while.

  5. kcarlson says:

    Make the music free and charge for concerts/posters/etc.

    Goodbye RIAA!

    • Griking says:

      While we’re at it lets give cars away for free too and just charge for gas.

      • coren says:

        Because that’s not a specious argument at all.

        Car manufacturers =/= oil companies
        Costs per car are far far higher in proportion to money made on sales of cars when compared to cd manufacture v cd profits

  6. Daggertrout says:

    What would the punishment be for stealing 2 CDs?

    • frank64 says:

      What would be the civil fine for wrongful death? Or causing someone to lose an arm. I think it would be cheaper.

      • aloria says:

        OJ Simpson was ordered to pay $33,500,000 in the wrongful death suit for Nicole Brown, so I guess $1.5 million for a regular person sounds about right.

    • farker says:

      Probably a few thousand dollars…..pretty equal to using Kazaa right?

    • ktetch says:

      In the state of California (and i know shes in Mn) it’s $1000 max, and I think 30days jail.

      with copyright infringement, it’s per track, so even the minimum for copyright infringement ($750/track) would be WAY above that.

    • Incident8 says:

      Death by Milli Vanilli.

    • JiminyChristmas says:

      You mean what if one stole two actual CDs from a retail store? That would qualify as petty theft. A maximum penalty for that would be something like up to 90 days in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. In practice, a first time offender with no prior record would probably have to complete a diversion program and serve a short period of probation.

  7. Bativac says:

    Good grief. A million and a half dollars over 24 songs. I wonder what songs they were?

    I can’t understand where they dug up a jury that felt $1.5 million was a reasonable penalty. Is that supposed to represent actual damages? Punitive? The article doesn’t say.

    The abusive scare tactics of the RIAA worked, in my case. I buy all my music now thru either iTunes or (preferably) Amazon.

    • Groanan says:

      Statutory damages for copyright infringement do not require a showing of lost profits, it is a choice where the plaintiff can choose either to go for their actual damages or to go for the statutory damages.

      For standard infringement the statute grants plaintiffs $750 – $30,000 per song, and if it is willful infringement (as it is here), the max goes up to $150,000 per copyrighted work.

    • Not Given says:

      If you follow http://twitter.com/amazonmp3 they are always giving away free downloads.

  8. EverCynicalTHX says:

    This is an outrageous fine, I might expect this sum to be asked for by RIAA – but what kind of jury of supposed peers would justify a 1.5 million dollar fine for downloading 24 songs that cost less than $25.00 online?

    • frank64 says:

      Maybe they are forced to by what the law says. It might be they aren’t for it either, just following the law? Short of jury nullification, they may have had no choice.

      • kujospam says:

        Jury’s are force to do very few things. One of them is to obey the law for other people. If the person murdered 50 people, they do not have to say guilty. Otherwise we would have computers being jury’s and not people.

  9. njack says:

    Guess she should have settled for the $25k or ~$1k/song.

    I wonder if they were able to directly correlate how many people downloaded from her and if they put a value/download. Based on an iTunes model of $1/song (from similar timeframe) that would be 62500 downloads of each song. This is the only way I see that this makes any sense, but even that is a stretch. This is blatantly ridiculous.

    • Applekid ┬──┬ ノ( ã‚œ-゜ノ) says:

      It’s a perfect example of standing up for justice. The catch with the settlement was that it would have required the case to “vacate” the judge’s decision, where the original $1.92 million judgment was described as “monstrous and shocking”.

      She put herself back on the firing line to make sure the judges comments made the record about the excessive punitive damages of copyright law.

    • ktetch says:

      no. the only distribution they could verify, was to the investigators themselves.

  10. Groanan says:

    My injustice sense tingles whenever the legal remedy looks like it far exceeds the harm committed by the individual.

    Whatever happened to no more than an eye for an eye?
    Or putting parties back to where they would have been if no injustice occurred?

    I have to assume we are following the might makes right theory of justice here, with those who pushed these statutory damage laws through the legislature being those with all the power.

  11. aloria says:

    …but I thought the web was public domain? Cooks Source said so!

    • scoosdad says:

      I like your avatar picture. It’s now up on 10,000 billboards selling dog food. :-)

      ….I know, you were being facetious. But just in case someone took you seriously.

  12. Arcaeris says:

    “Earlier this year, the judge in the second trial had reduced the ‘monstrous and shocking’ original $1.92 million judgment to only $54,000, with the RIAA willing to cut that to $25,000.”

    This is not entirely correct. They were willing to drop it to $25,000 if and only if Jammie agreed to vacate the judge’s ruling. They weren’t offering her a deal, it was that they didn’t want the judge’s “monstrous and shocking” claim on the books, and were willing to give her a break to get it removed.

    • Beeker26 says:

      This. She continued to fight because otherwise the record regarding the judge’s complaint about the statutory damages in copyright law would have been lost.

      The problem here isn’t the jury, it’s copyright law — law that was NEVER designed to be applied to individuals. The statutory minimum per offense is supposed to be a deterrent for businesses, so of course it’s going to be monstrous when applied to an individual.

      I for one am glad she continues to fight. Maybe, just maybe, once it gets to the Supreme Court there is a small chance of the laws being finally deemed unconstitutional, or at least not correctly applied against individuals.

  13. ericfate says:

    Pretty sure that Capitol Records is never going to see a dime of that money. But they sure as hell going to need to fork over a huge sum to their legal counsel. Aces!

  14. Duckula22 says:

    Good luck collecting.

  15. golddog says:

    Point of clarification…most media outlets report this as the result of her downloading the songs, when it is actually that she shared the songs after they were downloaded – a small but important distinction.

    To my knowledge no one has ever been sued for just downloading. It’s the sharer’s they go after and have the much clearer legal precedent.

    • Hrustar says:

      WIth most services (Napster, Limewire, Vuze, etc.) As you download, you are also in the process of sharing (default setting). So anyone who downloads, also shares.

    • Groanan says:

      Are you sure? All the articles I have read focus on the amount of songs to calculate statutory damages, which makes me think that they are only going after her for copying the songs from the internet, onto her computer, against the rights of the copyright holders.

      She was only dinged 62,500 per song, which is somewhere between the $750 and $150,000 per a song she could be dinged for each wrongful copyright infringement.

      The result should be the same regardless if she uploaded or not.

      • Groanan says:

        I wrote that last sentence wrong:

        Whether or not she uploaded appears to be inconsequential as it was not a part of the lawsuit.

        Each upload could be used as another infringement, but I don’t think they did that here.

      • golddog says:

        Pretty sure, from my reading at EFF and such (which is purely academic…).

        From the original lawsuit brief: “Accused of encouraging the illegal sharing of more than 1,700 songs, Jammie Thomas, 30…accused of sharing music through the use of peer-to-peer service, Kazaa. Thomas was ordered to pay $9,250 for each of the 24 songs that the RIAA concentrated on. She was initially accused of sharing 1,702 songs.”

        As Hrustar points out, most of those P2P services force you to share as you download unless you work around it. I’m guessing what she did was download a couple dozen songs not having a grasp of how the technology worked, left the program running and those couple dozen songs were subsequently downloaded by others 1,702 times.

        • Groanan says:

          Actually I think those other songs were other songs she also already owned on CDs, why they dropped from the case I do not really know as I do not think there is a defense of “I could have copied with permission for free onto my computer if I wanted to.”

          They also dropped songs from the case that they didn’t actually own the copyrights to.

          • Groanan says:

            /sigh

            I was confusing this case with the other case with the 30 songs and Joel Tenenbaum.
            Ignore anything I ever right form now on, or have ever written.

            Same case though really, just different people.

      • ktetch says:

        Exactly correct. The case originally started with 27 songs, and was ‘Virgin V Thomas’ then Virgin dropped out, so it went to 24 songs and became Capitol V Thomas. The screenshots in evidence allege some 2000+ tracks, but only 27 tracks were actually downloaded.

        Of course, the majority of ‘evidence’ in these cases is trivial to fabricate. I once set a challenge when giving a talk, to give me a list of 8 files to show as ‘proof’ of downloading, I’d start it as soon as I’d finished my talk, and spend only 1 hour doing it (the next speaker). It looked authentic, and I’m NOT a graphic artist.

    • evnmorlo says:

      Just downloading a file onto your computer is harder to detect, but it doesn’t sound like they had to prove that she actually uploaded anything.

      • golddog says:

        That’s generally how they prove infringement. They download a copy of their own material via P2P and record the IP address(es) they got it from. If they get a whole song from a user in the US, bingo!

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      So would illegal distribution be a more accurat charge? Is that what Capital is basically arguing that they lost revenue because the sharees didn’t buy anyting from them.

      That’s an assumption onto itself. Just because sharing was free or highly accessable that doesn’t mean they would’ve forked over 16$ for a new CD.

      • Groanan says:

        The tort is copyright infringement, which means you did something with someone else’s copyrighted that is reserved only for the owner and those the owner authorizes.

        This includes copying it, distributing it, performing it, or making a derivative work from it (like turning a book into a movie).

        It makes no difference legally if she copied a song off the internet, without permission, or if she uploaded a song from a CD that she had own onto the internet without permission. The statutory damages are the same, and are codified in 17 U.S.C. § 504.

        This is a very important note for people to get from this posted article, as if you think “I only download songs illegitimately – I should be safe” you are dangerously wrong.

        The only way you can be safe is if you are bankrupt with no assets.

  16. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    How does this make our country safer, stronger, and better from yesterday?

    Oh wait, it doesn’t. This is just grossly excessive.

    • VashTS says:

      Actually by scaring citizens, improving the banking infrastructure, strengthening the airline industry, giving tax relief only to the rich, and putting cameras on every corner and giving more tax breaks to corporations and allowing bribing of government officials, and killing innocent Middle Eastern people for oil and the sake of the economy, we are fighting terrorism and defending the American way.

      But ground zero is the war on people who share with others for non profit but enjoyment. That’s why a known cocaine user Angelina Jolie represents us as a good will ambassador for the US.

  17. jennix says:

    Poor Columbia Records. I feel SO sorry for them. They are really getting screwed here. How will they ever collect their millions?

  18. itsjustmarty says:

    this is why I listen to a lot of local and underground bands. No label means no RIAA. most of the “indie” bands WANT you to share their music because they are in it for the art and not for the $$$. Major FAIL. This will ruin this poor person for years to come and the Riaa will not even notice. $1.5mil is pocket change to them.

    • mistersmith says:

      No dude, no indie band is in it for the art and not the money. You can’t eat the art, and the art can’t keep you from freezing in winter. Maybe on the whole indie bands are more understanding that a very small amount of income comes from recordings, as opposed to what you can make playing out and selling merch, and many recognize that for many listeners BitTorrent is the new version of borrowing a record from a friend, but the band that advocates filesharing and gives stuff away for free is largely a myth.

  19. DerangedKitsune says:

    This is always my favorite thing to point out regarding cases like this:

    http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20091207/1201017234.shtml

    I really want to see how that finally plays out. They deserve nothing less than to have to pay the same prohibitive level of judgement that their foist on the general public.

  20. VashTS says:

    Actually by scaring citizens, improving the banking infrastructure, strengthening the airline and banking industry, giving tax relief only to the rich, and putting cameras on every corner and giving more tax breaks to corporations and allowing bribing of government officials, and killing innocent Middle Eastern people for oil and the sake of the economy, we are fighting terrorism and defending the American way.

    But ground zero is the war on people who share with others for non profit but enjoyment. That’s why a known cocaine user Angelina Jolie represents us as a good will ambassador for the US.

    Well have to go to my minimum wage job. Cannot afford toilet paper, let me use my Bachelor’s Degree and my extra three years of college to wipe.

  21. jiarby says:

    Well, if you read past the headlines and sound bites you will discover that she was targeted initially (and sent a cease & desist) because she was SHARING over 1700 songs… These 24 were the ones that Capitol was interested in and filed suit over. She didn’t just download… she interfered with Capitol’s ability to do business by distributing (sharing) these titles.

    How many people downloaded the files she was sharing? I don’t know, but Capitol is entitled (like any business) to defend itself from people stealing & illegally distributing their products.

    She is not just responsible for the 99­¢ she should have paid to download them illegally, but also for the damages caused to Capitol by making the songs available for others to download too. Statutory law 17 USC 92 § 504(c)(2) allows for damages for EACH infringement of between a minimum of $750 and as much as $150k.

    That’s the law… feel it burn!

    So, in summary..

    She illegally downloaded & made available for distribution 24 copyrighted works owned by Capitol.
    They caught her and offered a settlement.
    She declined.
    Capitol sued for Statutory Damages, and Jury #1 awarded Capitol almost $2M
    Defendant appeals over technical item (jury instructions) and a new trial is set.
    Meanwhile, Capitol offers to settle for 25K (a significant reduction of their Jury award)
    Defendant declines AGAIN
    She also loses Trial #2 and a different Jury came to the same conclusion as the 1st one (GUILTY) and awarded damages of 1.5M

    Oh yeah…

    She also owes attorney fees (both hers and the plaintifs)

    Maybe she should walked into Walmart and just shoplifted the 24 CD’s? That would have been cheaper… but, after all, she’s not a thief… is she?

    • Anonymously says:

      If you were a naive user of Kazaa, as I’m sure most users were, simply installing the software with default settings would share stuff from your computer. The sharing might not have been malicious act and she may not have even known she was doing it.

      The crux of the matter is the ruling that “making available” is the same as distributing, (even without proof of distribution!), turning what is a petty crime into an unfairly serious crime. She was not profiting from this. She was not running a crime organization. She installed some software and illegally downloaded some tunes like so many of us have. Not even the purportedly heinous act of declining a settlement justifies the ruling.

      • jiarby says:

        If you feel that the 17 USC 92 § 504(c)(2) statutory penalties are heinous then what damages do you think are “fair” for willful infringement??

    • evnmorlo says:

      Capitol sells CDs with artwork. An mp3 ripped and re-encoded isn’t even identical. Even if you don’t buy that, statutory damages shouldn’t have been applied since they were probably able to accurately track her distribution. Or if by some twist of fate we have ended up in 17 USC 92 § 504(c)(2), that subsection allows for a $200 fine if the infringement isn’t “willful,” which should apply to Thomas-Rasset since she was hardly trying to set up a business to compete with Capitol and had not received legal fore-warning that she should cease sharing.

      • jiarby says:

        The damages are up to the jury… They chose 1.5M. Two juries heard the case and determined that the infringement was willful. They were there, they heard the case, we weren’t.

    • EverCynicalTHX says:

      Those are good points and ones I didn’t know not having followed this from the start.

      However, answer me this:

      A. How much money did she make from distributing these songs?

      AND

      B. What was her intent, was it profit motivated?

      Those are two critical elements to any jury award from my perspective.

      • jiarby says:

        No…this idea is just wrong, the defendant does not have to have made money or be trying to operate a business to be shown to have caused damages to the plaintiff. The jury (two of them!) decided that she willfully infringed on the rights of the property owners and they are entitled to damages for each instance of infringement (between $750 and $150,000).

        So, you see, the jury decided the damages were $62,500, about right in the middle of the range.

        She does not have to have profited in teh deal, just to have intentionally interferred with the commerce of the rights holder, which the jury believes was proven.

        Elections have consequences… and so does stealing!

        • TardCore says:

          I hope your sick and incestous business continues to crumble and you’re soon out on the street. You make me ill.

    • Groanan says:

      You are missing the point Jiarby.

      Yes, she WAS sharing over 1700 songs, but the case, and the jury award, is only about the 24 songs.

      24 songs -> 1.5 million dollars? Do you honestly think that the companies infringed would actually have made that much money if she had not infringed on their copyright?

      What about evidence that persons who illegally download songs do so as a method of sampling, and eventually end up buying the CDs/DVDs because of it? What if her infringing use actually increased their profits?

      The law is the law, but when the law is unjust, it is silly to just say “we’ll it is how it is.”
      The constitutional challenge has merit evidence by the earlier ruling that the judge gave, and the fact that the plaintiffs were willing to settle for $25k to get the defendant to get rid of the judges ruling, for fear of what it would have on their ability to exhort money from people.

    • th3v6cann3val0s3 says:

      You sound like you work in the industry. How does it feel being part of one of the dumbest and worst-run enterprises in the history of business?

  22. ElizabethD says:

    I hate that she got slapped so hard. But on the other hand, these big fines seem to be the only thing music downloaders pay attention to. I know my son’s teen friends have all stopped downloading music without paying since these suits were pursued so rigorously by RIAA.

    • evnmorlo says:

      That’s what they tell you…of course if the parents are willing to pay $40000 to fill up the ipod, might as well let them since it gets them warmed up for college expenses

  23. NotEd says:

    Defendent was Jammie, not Jamie.

    (Insert crazy corrections hashtag here).

    Over.

  24. Buddha says:

    Absolute waste of our legal system.

    • jiarby says:

      Not if you own the work being stolen & illegally redistributed…

      • ktetch says:

        except it is not (and never has been) considered theft. if it were, it would have been a criminal case, where some real evidence would have been required, and max damages would have been about $700

        • jiarby says:

          Maybe it does not legally fit the definition of criminal theft like shoplifting…. BUT, in civil court a business can defend it’s trademarks and copyrights.

          You can’t really believe it is a waste of the legal system to defend the rights of an intellectual property holder… can you?

  25. MB17 says:

    A kid steals two CDs from Best Buy and get caught.

    Would he be forced to pay 1.5 million? Of course not. That’s how you know this is GD stupid.

    • jiarby says:

      Nope.. he is guilty of misdemeanor criminal theft. Could be a felony if the dollar amount exceeded a threshold that varies state by state.

      The kiddie shoplifter also was not willfully duplicating his stolen plunder and giving it out to his friends. If he decided to do that, however, I would recommend not putting your online user name, hostname, and IP address on the plundered copies (as the defendant did in this case, at least digitally).

      How many CD’s could the defendant in this case have to have shoplifted to amass 1700+ songs? Would that amount be a felony?

      Many folks have been arrested and/or sued back to the stone age for stealing, duplicating, and reselling copyrighted works. Not just digital stuff… but knockoff purses, shoes, clothing too.

  26. gman863 says:

    Aside from the obvious issue of attempting to collect blood from a rock, it seems the lobbying industry for the entertainment industry has worked some pretty sweet exceptions into standard civil tort law.

    Although it varies by state, a typical model used by personal injury/accident attorneys is “The Rule Of Three”: Take the actual damages (car, medical bills, lost unpaid work hours) and multiply by three: One third of a settlement covers the actual damages, one third goes to the attorney and the remaining third is “pain and suffering”. Although this is not an actual law, it is common demand when the attorney negoiates with the defendants/insurers prior to filing suit.

    Although civil judgements per plantiff can hit Powerball jackpot size numbers when death, disability, extreme negligence or anti-trust issues are involved, most go into an endless appeal process and are eventually settled for a fraction of the verdict.

    Breaking down the issue of file sharing, it basically amounts to cyber shoplifting. If the same “Rule of Three” was applied, the plantiff’s actual loss would be a fair estimate of the number of times each song was downloaded from the defendant’s PC times the fair market value of each download times three.

    Example: 25 songs times fair estimate each was downloaded 10 times from the defendant’s PC = 250 losses times $1 per paid download = $250 x 3 = $750. In most cases, the requested damages would fall into small claims court with a minimal attorney fee for the plaintiff. The RIAA would still make its point and would have a realistic chance of being paid (versus the defendant declaring bankruptcy).

    The RIAA doesn’t realize people are figuring out that – based on the number of judgements reported in the media when compared to the millions of people using file sharing – it appears the odds of being caught and sued do resemble those of a Powerball jackpot.

  27. dolemite says:

    I’d love an answer to this question by any lawyers or legal experts:

    They have proof that she downloaded 24 songs. They have no proof that she uploaded thousands upon thousands of songs. How is it she is liable for something that has not been proven? If I throw a candy wrapper on the ground, a policeman can’t arrest me and point to the entire city and say “I bet all that litter is yours isn’t it? I’m taking you in for 5 million counts of littering”.

    Unless they show how many times each song was uploaded by her..to whom it was uploaded to…with IP addresses, dates, names, etc…IMO they have no case beyond she is on the hook for .99 per song.

    • lucky13 says:

      “If I throw a candy wrapper on the ground, a policeman can’t arrest me and point to the entire city and say “I bet all that litter is yours isn’t it?”

      Actually, that’s the plotline of “Alice’s Restaurant” in a nutshell. But Officer Odie could get away with a lot more in the 60s than he could now.

    • jiarby says:

      no, you are wrong…

      She is “on the hook” for between $750 and $150,000 worth of statutory damages per infringement. The plaintiff only has to show that she willfully & intentionally violated the copyrights that they own.

      Read the law, and read the case file.

      Your arguement that she is only liable for 99¢ is ridiculous. You can’t go shoplift a TV, and then later when you get arrested offer to just pay for it and be off the hook. Illegal activities come with consequences

      She intentionally damaged the ability of someone else to do business by taking their intellectial property without remuneration, and then ALSO participating in a system that assisted others to do the same. That is a violation of the law, and the consequences for that are well documented.

  28. Kingeryck says:

    Yea, go ahead and ruin some person’s life because they shared a few songs, so that music CEO’s can buy another gold plated Ferrari. I’m sure that song wasn’t available anywhere else online and the damage is detrimental and irreversible, like what they are doing to the people they sue.

  29. Jack Handy Manny says:

    Isn’t this more about her sharing the files, rather than her downloading them?

    • dolemite says:

      I didn’t see anything in the original article stating they had proof how many times she uploaded them.

  30. OmniZero says:
  31. El_Fez says:

    But wait – I thought it if appears on the Web, it’s Public Domain?

  32. Mclick says:

    Must have been Metallica.

  33. sopmodm14 says:

    f*ck the riaa

    how on earth did they come up with that rate ?

    this is a travesty

  34. sopmodm14 says:

    if they can get away with this nonsense, then she should counter sue them for financially gang-raping her

    how on earth can she pay that much ?

  35. th3v6cann3val0s3 says:

    You sound like you work in the industry. How does it feel being part of an dumbest enterprise in the history of business?

  36. sopmodm14 says:

    how in the F does this make sense !??!

    if $1k per song was excessive how is $63k not ? the judge’s law school must be ashamed.

    just because its in a shared folder doesn’t mean it was distributed …. without proof and physical evidence, how can she be proven guilty ?

    ok, she was guilty of downloading a song, just charge her for depreciated market value

  37. chaquesuivant says:

    Well — some of my co-religionists are shmendriks.

    The RIAA and MPAA are dominated by these schmuck mamzer maryland-farmers.

    The actions of these very few are a ‘shande fur de goyim’ which to say, something scandalous non-Jews can use against the rest of us.

    These arses do not represent anyone but themselves.

    ~cdh

  38. TardCore says:

    The RIAA is why I no longer purchase ANY music at all. This cartel should be elimated immediately.

  39. Destron says:

    I haven’t used Kazaa in what feels like 80 years. Was shocked to see they are still around.

    That being said, I can’t remember, did Kazaa keep track of how much you uploaded? I mean there is no way out of 1700+ songs to know how much of that data belongs to 24 songs but they could still manipulate that data to get a rough estimate. There are ways of tracking uploads though if this person was using no protection what so ever.

    File sharers are the main target more so than the down loaders anymore. The cause is 2 fold, one it eliminates the source so you have nobody to download it from, but two, if people are scared shitless to upload it increases the number of hit and run down loaders. The will continue to torrent but won’t share it out of fear of uploading it. You find torrents die rather quickly this way, downloaders get pissed off cause that 4.2GB movie only has 2 seeders and 80 leechers, and up loaders eventually get sick of nobody helping them seed. P2P stands to have the same effect. If you so choose to share something you would eventually get sick of being the only one all the time, if 800 people download it from you and 2 are sharing it.

  40. SpendorTheCheap says:

    If only there was a way she could have avoided those files ending up on her computer.

  41. zibby says:

    Oh, man. The gnashing of teeth and impotent rage in these comments will sustain me if it’s slow today.

  42. ThatsWhatSheSaid says:

    if i was this person i would mail them a dollar a week, hey still counts as making a payment….i would never pay that amount of money, i dont see how 1.5 million justifies for lets say 30 bucks in music etc….just doesnt make sense

  43. PunditGuy says:

    I feel like I need to copy/paste this every time this issue comes up, because there’s a lot of confusion about stealing vs. copyright infringement, and actual vs. statutory damages.

    Go read the copyright law. It’s readily available. Here’s a link:

    http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/usc_sup_01_17.html

    Under U.S. copyright law, one of the exclusive rights the copyright holder has is over distribution of the copyrighted work. Thomas-Rasset distributed copyrighted work without permission of the copyright holder. This isn’t about illegally downloading music — this is about sharing music when you don’t have the right to do so.

    As for the statutory damages, those are in place because it is fundamentally unfair to have the victim in this situation — the copyright holder, see above — pay for the expense of trying to figure out just how damaged they were by the copyright violator. If actual damages were the only option, you would have to hope that the copyright violator kept detailed records of every violation or you would have to pay some forensic accountant (in cases of commercial infringement) or forensic computer/network specialist (in this case of non-commercial, digital infringement) try to piece together how big the actual damage was from whatever evidence you can find. Rather than go through that, the copyright holder has the option of choosing to pursue statutory damages, which in this case can range from $750 to $150,000 per violation depending on whether the infringement was willful or not.

    Two juries that heard all of the evidence decided that her actions were worth damages in the neighborhood of $1.5 million to nearly $2 million. Bear in mind that you didn’t hear all the evidence.

    So this is the way the system is set up to work. We should probably add a new section to the law that deals specifically with non-commercial infringing uploads, but I don’t see our corporatist legislature (both parties) making that a priority any time soon.

    • ktetch says:

      indeed they won’t
      (side note, I used to be a copyright enforcer for a music company)

      Things do need to change. Copyrights have been extended so long, that it’s generationg “creative stagnation” You can’t use old stuff, because its still under copyright. Nothing in the US has fallen out of copyright since 1997 (or maybe 1998, i forget when the SBCTEA came into force) and nothing will until 2019. At that point, stuff from 1923 will become available (if it had been renewed and extended)

      Side note, what do most of the big media companies have in common? they were all started around 100 years ago, when terms were short, and were often ignored for certain countries. So they could use all they wanted to become big. Now they want to stay big.

      The purpose of copyright is given in the Constitution. “To promote the progress of science and the useful arts”. With it all locked up, there is no progress, current copyright law hinders the progress of science and the useful arts.

      It needs reform, and it needs it now, just as we do with government accountability and transparency, and our personal privacy. Thats what the US Pirate Party stands for.

      Andrew Norton
      Legal Director
      US Pirate Party

  44. maruawe says:

    RIAA should not receive any more than the retail price for any song that is infringed,and have to pay the court cost themselves. This is a reflection of our times and the run away legal network of misjudgments. We are tying up our court system with this type of trivial lawsuits. Besides RIAA deserves to be infringed upon because of their greed and the lack of support for the artist involved. If anything the judgment should go to the artist and not RIAA . RIAA did not write or record the music…….

  45. FenrirIII says:

    What I want to know is the make up (age, sex, race, creed, religion, region they grew up, etc.) of the juries to study how information pertaining to theft of intellectual property is spread. I would be curious to see how the above details may play into someone considering this excessive amount in any way fair.

  46. diagoro says:

    The RIAA, and ASCAP, have a very noble goal (at least innately), as musicians should not be deprived of their earnings. No one will dispute that. It’s the methods to both enforce and intimidate that make them look foolish and greedy.

    I ran a club a few years back. It was based in a private social club, with members gaining admittance. As such we were able to avoid paying royalties. A rep from ASCAP showed up one day demanding some crazy amount per week, without any records of what was played, etc. In the process I overheard him discuss another case/victim. There was a sports bar that he had cited. He wanted royalties for the music that was playing over the televisions in the bar……the music in the commercials! I had always assumed the artists in a commercial were payed at the time or performance or production, not on a ‘per broadcast’ rate. Here it just seems ASCAP is going after every revenue source it can, kind of like traffic cameras or extreme parking rules to foster violations.

    The club never paid, mostly due to the extremely rude/rough/thuggish older English president of the club who literally told the ASCAP rep “F*&^ Off”……..

    • prizgrizbiz says:

      “The RIAA, and ASCAP, have a very noble goal (at least innately), as musicians should not be deprived of their earnings. No one will dispute that.”

      I will!

  47. peebozi says:

    goldman sachs was forced to pay 5 days worth of profits in lieu of going to court for actions that were deemed illegal enough for the SEC to threaten court action.

    if the lady can’t pay the bill they should hang her, then throw her off a cliff into shark infested waters, the recover the biody and have her drawn & quartered…then to the Guillotine!!!.

    oh right, civil vs criminal…oh right, corporation vs private citizen.

  48. peebozi says:

    as a juror i would have used my vote not guilty based on jury nullification rights. i don’t subscribe to theoretical “copyrights”, “licensing”, etc.

    in fact, i wonder if the judge included in his instructions their right to vote not guilty because they didn’t agree with the law.

  49. matkapnyc says:

    There seems to be a bit of confusion on some things, so here’s some additional facts.

    This was not her second trial – this was her third trial and she was found liable every single time.

    At the first trial, she was found liable for copyright infringement and the jury awarded $222,000 in damages. The judge ordered a retrial because he believed that one of the jury instructions (that “making [songs] available” is sufficient to establish a violation of the distribution right) was incorrect in light of new law.

    Notwithstanding the new jury instruction, the jury in the second trial came back with a $1.92 million award. The judge himself attempted to reduce the amount to $54,000, which was rejected by the RIAA and another retrial on damages was held.

    It was this third trial where the jury hit her again with a $1.5 million verdict.

    This is not the RIAA setting the amount of damages – this is a jury (or rather three juries) of her peers who determined that her actions were willful and that she should be hit with enhanced statutory damages. The judge had nothing to do with the amount – in fact, he attempted to reduce it.

    And, Thomas did nothing to help her own cause. She refused to accept responsibility for her actions, claiming that someone must have been using her router (even though it was proven she did not have a wireless router), then that it still must have been someone else (even though she used the same username for numerous other websites) and finally, during discovery, she produced a different hard drive than was in her computer at the time of the infringements. Failing to tell the truth to a jury is not going to endear them to your cause – it’s going to piss them off and you’re going to face higher damages awards for it.

    Statutory damages are included in the Copyright Act to both compensate plaintiffs when it is not easily provable how much damage was suffered, and to make examples of infringers to deter others from doing the same thing.

    Say what you want, but the jury acted within its rights, and within the statutory boundaries.