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  1. deathbecomesme says:

    “We are pleased with the appellate court’s decision and look forward to putting this case behind us,”

    We are glad the money packages got to the right people and will be glad to do “business” again in the future

  2. Bsamm09 says:

    If she can’t afford to pay, how is the attorney getting paid? I think I’d drop him and hit a bankruptcy attorney up.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      Pro bono? It does happen.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Yeah, especially in a case like this. If that lawyer was the one to “Take down” the RIAA, he’d be a superstar…double or triple his rates the rest of his life.

    • Pants O Doom says:

      Yea, since it says attorney, plural, I can only assume a local law firm is taking the case for free because of the publicity, or something.
      Or, you know, because they are human beings like everyone else and have a smidgen of empathy.

    • thomwithanh says:

      I’m 99% sure this type of judgement cannot be discharged in bankruptcy – it’s more along the lines of restitution because it relates to a crime (theft/ copyright violation).

    • st225 says:

      Often others kick in because they want Thomas to win. There are some big search engines, for instance, that think they’ll make more money if the web is as unencumbered as possible. I’m not saying that’s happening. I just know that it has happened in the past.

      She’s meat on a stick for some very rich people.

  3. AtlantaCPA says:

    How much pirate downloading did she do to be ordered to pay 220k (or 1.5 million)? Sounds like more than just a college student using napster.
    Also, I wonder if she had the option to settle for 3,500 like the other folks and thought “nah, I can fight this and win!” That would be kind of funny/sad.

    • AtlantaCPA says:

      I guess if I RTFA I would have seen that it’s 1,700 or 24 songs depending on what you consider. Still no info on my second question though, I wonder if she passed on settling b/c she thought fighting it would turn out better?

      • Hi_Hello says:

        she thought fighting it would turn out better.
        $54,000 was the settle price is she agreed. $54,000 for 24 songs. they might as well make it 1.5 million. She doesn’t have that kind of money.

        Which you put a number so high, it doesn’t even matter that actually amount anymore. It’s too much for her.

      • who? says:

        In the AP article it said that they offered her a $25k settlement.

    • daemonaquila says:

      I’m sure she did have the option, but I’m very proud of her that she fought. There needs to be a total overhaul of copyright law on this country, to make sense in the context of 20 years of evolving digital media. Also, anyone who’s out to stick it to shakedown artists like the RIAA is to be commended. Do people really want to live in a world where everything they do online is monitored, they don’t even own the CD they just paid for and get docked for putting the content into a different format, and making a mix-tape for a friend is a criminal act?

      • cigsm says:

        You never owned a CD you paid for. You own the license to use it for personal use.

        • Chuft-Captain says:

          Wrong. You purchased the physical media, you own that CD and may do with it as you please. Anything to the contrary is null and void.

          • luxosaucer13 says:

            Wrong again. I encourage you to read the “fine print” on ANY media purchase you make, whether it be downloadable, CD, DVD, blu-ray, Kindle/Nook content or video game. You buy a LICENSE to use the content. Whether you own the media or not is irrelevant; it’s what’s ON the media that matters and is licensed. You violate the terms of the license agreement and you’re no longer able to legally use the content. For most folks this is a non issue, as your average CD player does not connect to the internet for updates and such. For game consoles, downloadable content, PCs, Kindles/Nooks and blu-ray players, though, that’s an entirely different story. There have been incidences where licenses have been revoked to use media content, and not always due to the fault of the purchaser. When the license gets revoked in these cases, the media is “bricked.”

            • luxosaucer13 says:

              addendum: What you were referring to with regards to CDs was called “fair-use”. “Fair-use” was revoked with the passage of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act:


              • eldergias says:

                “Fair Use” was not “revoked” it was “amended”. There are still “Fair Use” exceptions. Check your own link and see case “Lenz v. Universal Music Corp.”

            • spamtasticus says:

              Wrong again. If you where actually buying a license to listen to that song and not the CD itself then if you where to loose that CD and still prove you once bought it then you should be able to order a replacement CD (only a distribution vehicle for the licensed work) or download another copy. Neither one of these options is possible. Their business model does not follow any real acceptable standard. I know this first hand because I had $2000 worth of CD’s stolen from me and could prove ownership of all of them but not a single one of the record labels was willing to ship me a new CD (I offered to pay a nominal fee. They wanted me to “re buy it”.). When I asked if I could copy someone else’s CD to replace my own they told me that was illegal. When I asked if I could download the songs I had paid for……. ILLEGAL! Screw the RIAA! and the MPAA

    • fatediesel says:

      She declined an initial offer to settle for $5,000, and in 2009 turned down a settlement offer of $25,000.

    • ablestmage says:

      There is no such thing as pirate downloading. All RIAA/MPAA/etc suits have been against people who specifically shared out, or uploaded. Downloading is the opposite of sharing, and I’m frankly baffled as to why media outlets keep using it. You cannot be sued for downloading. All suits have been specifically against uploaders, and all suits that *include* downloading as charges, only specify penalties against the uploading charges, but never against downloading.

      • frank64 says:

        All peer to peer downloading is really sharing bits. Could all people who use these networks be considered as uploaders?

        • who? says:

          To my knowledge the RIAA has never gone after someone who’s simply downloaded something purely for their own personal use, but yes, the RIAA has gone after people who were sharing via peer to peer sites like Napster. Some of the time, I think the people who were sharing were not computer literate enough to realize that they were actually sharing, but they were, and they were sued.

  4. dolemite says:

    I simply do not understand this, from a legal standpoint. She “stole” 2 dozen songs. That’s a value of $24, max. They have absolutely no proof of how many times they may or may not have been distributed to other people. If you catch me with an ounce of pot on me, you can’t charge me with distributing 100 kilos based on the average pot usage in the country. You have to have proof I did that. If she stole a CD, she wouldn’t be charged with burning 1,000 CDs and giving them away, without proof. On every forum I’ve posed this question, I’ve not seen a satisfactory answer.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      That’s because there is no answer. This is fascism.

    • Hi_Hello says:

      From what I read… not sure where… but the record company has someone downloading the musics from the user. Basically they are stealing their own music to prove that the user is illegally giving it away.

      1 song is all they need to fine the user for a few thousands. So the record company downloads a few songs from the users, just enough so the amount is crazy high and charge them.

      In their view, it’s not like you can steal a candy bar, get caught and offer to pay for the candy bar. You going have to pay for the crime, which is a lot more that the cost of the song.

    • jebarringer says:

      My understanding is that they’re going after her not for downloading the songs, but rather making them available to others. In other words, it’s like distributing them without paying the licensing fees to do so.

      • Bsamm09 says:

        I believe that it right. Or at least the argument they are making. Distribution doesn’t mean that someone money exchanged hands. In retrospect she probably should have sold them. Help pay off her judgement.

    • ConsumeristAlly says:

      That’s because you’re using common sense.

      Two things to note: First, as someone pointed out, they’re probably accusing her of distributing. As with drugs, if they show you’re giving it away, they can hit you for a tougher penalty than what you would get for simply having the material. Second, though: I think the DMCA (the statute that permits these suits) gives them automatic damages of a couple of hundred or more *per song*. You may thank your Congress for that; it was a total sellout to the music industry. I’m not up to speed on copyright and statutory damages, so the situation may be much worse than what I have described. The bottom line, though, is that Congress has automatically given the recording industry (and the media-producing industry generally) automatic statutory rights to recover far more than anyone with common sense would ever give them, even for an intentional theft. It’s essentially a statutory punitive damages provision: if you figure each song’s worth $1, and we’re giving a *minimum* of $200 (plus attorney’s fees, probably–which really slaps on the award), that’s 200 times the original harm. If they tried to recover that much without the statute, it would likely be slapped down as an unconstitutional punitive damages award.

    • Jawaka says:

      If you’re only going to be sued for the actual value of the product that you steal then what’s a person’s motivation to not steal?

      “Gee,I’ll just take my chances and steal this. If I get caught I’ll just pay what it would have cost me anyway. Nothing to lose I guess”

    • PunditGuy says:

      Okay, there’s two element to this. Bear in mind that these are explanations, not excuses.

      First, copyright laws give copyright holders certain rights, which are clearly detailed. One of those is the sole right to distribute. A copyright holder can give away his/her copyrighted material, sell it for a reasonable price, sell it for an unreasonable price, not sell it at all and not make it available to anyone — it’s solely up to the copyright holder. What Thomas did was distribute songs without the permission of the copyright holder. This is plainly against the law.

      Second, as a remedy, the copyright holder may seek actual damages or statutory damages. It’s up to the copyright holder to decide which. There’s a very good reason for this. Imagine a guy selling fake Mickey Mouse t-shirts out of the back of a van. Assuming that guy doesn’t have the best of accounting practices and accurate books displaying his total input/output of shirts, there’s no good way for Disney to show how much actual harm was caused — and it’s not really fair, when you think about it, to have the aggrieved party be the one who has to go through time and effort (and possibly money) to try to figure that out. So there’s statutory damages, which range from $750 to $30000 for each infringing act, with the possibility of going up to $150000 if the act was “willful.” Juries and judges have a lot of leeway in figuring out how much penalty to serve.

      That penalty serves as both compensation and deterrence to future copyright infringement. So “value of $24, max” would never logically equate to a $24 fine. 24 acts of infringement, times some judicially determined value between $750 and $150000 for each act, equals a lot of pain.

  5. YouDidWhatNow? says:

    Proof positive that our justice system is utterly corrupt.

    Ban the RIAA. Charge this woman *exactly* what the cost would have been for each and every verified download of her songs, based on their cost on or whatever (prolly a dollar a song).

    And then make sure that every red cent of that money goes to the actual artists…not the RIAA. Who loves to whine about how the artists are being damaged by these actions, but never actually give any of the money to the artists that they collect anyway. They’re organized crime.

    • TheUncleBob says:

      While I don’t disagree that the amount is unreasonable, I disagree with your idea that she should be charged only the value of the songs. In spite of your (and my) dislike for the RIAA, it is fair that they be allowed to recover court costs and other incidental fees associated with the research and investigation to determining somoene’s guilt. Also, charging the defendant with the bare minimum sets up a situation of “Pay $1 or Pay nothing… unless I get caught, then only pay $1.” A substantial amount of folks would just start taking their chances.

      • guaporico says:

        Agreed. A clear succinct answer, very different from your barrage of comments of “free speech” on the volume level consumerist article …

      • daemonaquila says:

        In the U.S., you DON’T get court costs if you win. A party may be sanctioned by the judge – it happens rarely – by paying some part of court costs or expenses if they were involved in misconduct in how they were pursuing the case (using the court system to harass, filing briefs with no reasonable basis in law, stonewalling discovery, etc.). So, they are due absolutely not one red cent for their trouble in pursuing her, and that’s the way it should be. Instead, the RIAA should be sanctioned for its strong-arm tactics, especially its discovery overreaches (mostly denied by judges, thankfully) in trying to ferret out downloaders, and more.

        • ConsumeristAlly says:

          As a technical matter, you often *do* get *court* costs, but court costs are usually minimal: a few hundred bucks. I think what you mean is attorney’s fees. You usually don’t get attorney’s fees. Though, in copyright, I think the DMCA or the copyright act may allow the winner to get fees. Also, for things like this, you can often use declaratory judgments or other means, depending on where the infringer is (and state law) to get fees. It *really* depends, and you can get fees a lot more often than you think.

      • Kuri says:

        Well, if that were to happen, maybe the music industry would need to start taking a damn hint.

      • frank64 says:

        Handle the fine more like shoplifting. Maybe a little more because it is harder to get caught downloading.

        I thought the music industry changed how they handle this and aren’t suing like this anymore. They might be better off dropping this. There could be negative fallout.

        The politician passed this into law, I think they should look at this again. A smaller fine paid by more people would be fair.

    • JayTL says:

      They don’t go after people who download the songs, they go after the people who upload them. The ones who gave people the songs.

    • daemonaquila says:

      That would be very good legislation. Sadly, good luck getting anyone to sponsor it.

    • oldwiz65 says:

      Makes you wonder how much money the RIAA slipped to the various judges under the table? Do they use cash? drugs? hookers? valuable stock? livestock? money in swiss banks? vacations? cars?..all of the above?

  6. TheUncleBob says:

    Does the defendant claim in this case that she didn’t do it, she shouldn’t be punished for doing it or that the award is unfairly high?

    • Hi_Hello says:

      I think it’s the award being too high. The problem is, most people think any amount over $1 is too high.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Any amount over verifiable actual damages is too high. The problem is that the RIAA has no way of showing any significant amount of actual damages.

        • TheUncleBob says:

          This is an interesting idea. Let’s say a semi-truck driver has been on the road for 38 hours straight because his company demanded it and he was afraid to get fired. He falls asleep at the wheel and plows into the side of your vehicle. Your kids are killed, your wife is comatose and you’re paralyzed from the waist down.

          Should the driver’s company only have to reimburse you for the exact amount of damages you can prove and nothing more?

          Oh, and for those “They probably wouldn’t have paid for it anyway” folks – in this court where we allow hypothetical situations, the driver’s company also gets to claim that if their driver didn’t hit you, someone else might have anyway, so it really doesn’t matter who destroyed your family and life.

  7. benminer says:

    Was she sued for *downloading* or *uploading* (aka sharing) music?

    Those two terms are not interchangeable and mean different things.

  8. STXJK says:

    One thing I do not understand. Back in the days when we had cassette tapes, a person could buy a tape, and then hand said tape over to a friend to copy. Was that illegal? I have no idea. But no one got prosecuted for doing that that I know of. Heck, we used to record songs off of the radio, and there were Boom Boxes sold by the thousands that had that capability built in.

    Is it the burden of proof? Is the only difference in the digital age that they now can PROVE that someone shared music? Or what changed?

    I also agree that the punishment should fit the crime. 3X the value of the songs that were “stolen,” and court costs and fees. That’s what she should have had to pay up front. And if it encourages others to steal music, then the music industry model is what needs to change, not the consumers. Just like in the past when we boxed up our cassettes and CDs and bought iPods.

    • NeverLetMeDown2 says:

      Yup, bootlegging was (except in cases where the copyright owner approved) illegal. Wasn’t extensively pursued, since it was relatively small scale. If you were making thousands of copies of tapes and handing them out, that would have been pursued.

      • Kuri says:

        Um, wasn’t it illegal to SELL them, not just give them to friends? As I remember it was fine to give a tape to a friend so long as you didn’t make any kind of profit on it, since a lot of bands got popular that way.

        • STXJK says:

          I remember this too, making copies to share was fine. Isn’t that the premise Napster was going with?

          • who? says:

            No. According to fair use principles, you could always make your own “archival” copy of a something you bought, but it still wasn’t legal to make a tape and share it.

            Why this is a big deal now is because it’s so much easier to make perfect copies of the recording. If you were making tapes of your records, there were two problems. First, the copying process would add noise and distortion. Copying an original wouldn’t add that much noise, but making copies of copies of copies would quickly become unlistenable. The second problem was the logistical difficulty of making copies. Every copy had to be done individually. It took time, a new blank tape, and so on, so the number of copies that could be made was limited. With digital music, an infinite number of perfect copies can be made and shared practically instantly.

        • benminer says:

          If the bands gave their permission to do this, it was perfectly legal. Major record labels, who legally “speak” for the bands signed on to them, do *not* give permission.

          If I record a bunch of original songs and want everybody in the world to share and make copies, that is fine. As soon as I sign a $40 million 5-album deal with RCA that would no longer be legal.

        • Geekybiker says:

          Its the actual act of making the copy that is at issue, not if it is for profit or not. Non-commercial use makes it a bit harder to prosecute, but its far from an absolute bar.

      • DrLumen says:

        It was and is a larger issue than one might normally think. I have heard of some cases where they were making millions by bootlegging. Those were commercial operations though where the cover art and everything were duplicated to look like it was factory made.

        I agree that the fines seem excessive as RIAA can’t really prove damages other than the few songs that their spies download from her.

    • Kuri says:

      Hmm, I made a mix tape back in the 90s/early 2000s, so by recording industry logic, I should be doing time next to serial killers and rapists.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      Yes, that was illegal. Recording off the radio is legal. Just like recording TV on your VCR is legal.

      When you’re recording something that’s being freely broadcast, like OTA radio, there’s no issue. When you record something that normally costs money, like duplicating a CD, that’s legal only for your own backup purposes. If you give or sell it to someone else, now you’re a criminal.

      The issue there of course is that then the publishers started putting DRM on their CDs (and whatever), and then they bought a law that makes it illegal to circumvent DRM. So, while it’s legal for you to go to BBY and buy a CD and make a backup copy of it for yourself, if you have to break DRM to make your legal backup copy, now you’re a criminal again. DRM exists to prohibit people from exercising a right granted to them by law. The law that the recording industry bought is at direct odds with the original consumer-rights law.

      Just one more reason why DRM should be illegal.

  9. Kuri says:

    A nice reminder that you can be made bankrupt for not paying for what many charge all of a few dollars for.

  10. CosmosHuman says:

    If it was me I’d say screw it and file a BK 7….then let them violate the order and sue them!!! Hehehehehehe

    I know I have d/l something in the past I really could care less.

  11. ovalseven says:

    Why would the RIAA bother to spend money an appeal? If she doesn’t have $54,000, she certainly isn’t going to have a quarter million.

    Six years of court costs and they’ll probably never see a penny from it.

    • STXJK says:

      And the bigger issue – no one really cares anymore. Even just making an example out of her is worthless at this point. The consumer world as a whole has moved on to services like Pandora and Spotify. This who thing is tl;dr.

    • daemonaquila says:

      They probably won’t, but that’s not the point. They want to make legal precedent, so they can then pursue the next case(s) much more easily. They also want to make an example of her, to scare uploaders/downloaders. This is how big business changes the laws to suit their purposes. They get some legislation that’s somewhat in their favor, and then they look for test cases to take that inch and stretch it to 1000 miles. For every case that goes to court to scare the masses, thousands of scared sheep pay $3,500 each to make the problem go away. Believe me, they’re getting plenty of money, and every dime is going back into their legal fund rather than to the artists they’re pretending to protect.

    • Bsamm09 says:

      It’s not about the money. They want to have a well publicized case where they drag someone through the wringer and financially ruin them so they can put their head on a spike as a warning for all others that come next.

      That’s why the appeals and continued legal fight. The actual money from this case is a non-factor. Think of it like advertising, “Don’t fuck with me” advertising.

      • CosmosHuman says:

        Filing a BK 7 or 13 is not the end of the world. I had to file a BK in 2005 due to excessive medical debt trying to save the life of my daughter when my insurance company would no longer pay for treatment. It happens. I rebuilt myself and am better off financially now.

        She can fight longer if she wants. She files BK and they don’t collect a dime. You can’t get blood from a rock. I am hoping she has enough personal exemptions so she does not end up homeless. The recording industry only cares about themselves.

        • silverdreams says:

          Is it a sure thing that the judgment would be discharged if she files for bankruptcy? I’m not familiar with the regulations, and a Google search is giving me conflicting information.

          (By the way, did your daughter pull through?)

          • CosmosHuman says:

            She pulled through but she is disabled for life and now on SSI.

          • CosmosHuman says:

            I think if you have a judgement against you for say for drunk driving that can’t be d/c. I’m not a lawyer.
            I found this:
            While most types of debts, including judgment damages are dischargeable, there are exceptions. For example, under Section 523(a)(6) of the Bankruptcy Code, debts for “for willful and malicious injury by the debtor to another entity or to the property of another entity” will not be discharged. So, for example, while debts resulting from a negligent act may be discharged, but debts resulting from an intentional act may not. Additionally, Section 523(a)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code prohibits the discharge of any debts arising from the “death or personal injury caused by the debtor’s operation of a motor vehicle, vessel, or aircraft if such operation was unlawful because the debtor was intoxicated from using alcohol, a drug, or another substance.” Similarly, criminal fines are not dischargeable.

  12. TerpBE says:

    “Jammie” would be a good name for an online music-sharing service.

  13. El_Fez says:

    This is why I pirate all my music from the Library!

  14. Therulnig says:

    I concur that no one cares anymore. The types of distribution targeted in these cases (programs like Kazaa) are a thing of the past and would hold no precedent for new cases anyway.

    The endless appeals will just keep coming because the damages can always be disagreed on because to collect damages for copyright infringement you have to prove there was actual financial lose and be exact about it and no one can agree on how much the industry loses per song someone shared online.

    • who? says:

      Actually, Kazaa and Napster aren’t really substantially different from someone running torrent software today. The torrent sites go up and down, but the content is all stored on the individual user’s hard drives, and if they keep the torrent software running, they’re sharing.

  15. frank64 says:

    I think someone should organize a boycott of buying music until this is resolved in her favor. I don’t want to support illegal downloading, but this is way too far. We can make an effort to share music the old fashioned way, that way they wouldn’t be able to stop it.

  16. Mr. Bill says:

    Why is there no similar penalty on the recording industry for people they falsely sued?

  17. Aliciaz777 says:

    Why does the music industry go after individual downloaded instead of the people actually running the sharing website? If they want to stop downloading, they need to go after the websites themselves, not individual users. I think they go after individuals because they see more money in winning lawsuits that way. Without the websites, there’s no downloaders, and without Downloaders, there’s no lawsuits. Plus a website may only be ran by a handful of people, whereas each website could have thousands or even millions of users to choose from to sue.

    It’s stupid really, because anyone hit with a huge lawsuit could just file bankruptcy if they lose (I know I would).

  18. Jawaka says:

    So how many times can a person appeal a decision? Forever?

  19. NorthAlabama says:

    how much would lawyers, fines and court cost her if she had run into the local wal-mart, filled a cart with music, then dashed to her car and left without paying?

    that’s how much it should cost her, and she should be locked up if there are priors, period.

    i’m sick of people stealing, then trying to justify it with technology or ignorance. stealing is stealing, that’s why you didn’t have to pay anything, duh.

  20. Azagthoth says:

    Even if the record company win she will just file bankruptcy and wash her hands of this.

  21. Caddyshack says:

    Hard lesson to learn about stealing, but in the end, that is exactly what it is. Unfortunately for her she is being made the scape-goat.

  22. GHDave says:

    This case was why, years ago, I decided to never buy a piece of music again unless I buy it DIRECTLY from the artist.

  23. Obtruder says:

    And even if she can pay, the artists themselves won’t see a dime.

    The RIAA has moved out of the music business and into the lawsuits for profit model. Good luck with that when the Internet completely wipes you off the map in a few more years.

    I only pirate these days to spite them, RIAA is a cancer on the industry.