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back to article RIAA hits paydirt: wins first music-sharing jury trial

The Recording Industry of America today won its first jury trial against an individual accused of illegally downloading music. A federal jury fined Jammie Thomas, 30, of Minnesota $220,000 in damages to the six record labels suing her for copyright violation. Thomas will pay $9,250 for each of the 24 songs the prosecution …

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Money can't buy me love

Oh yes the 6 record companies will feel the love of the public for this.

100,000 pounds for sharing a small section of songs.

Wow.

Unbelievable.

She's not exactly terrorist hacking mom. This punishment doesn't fit the crime.

Boo RIAA.

Boo jury for letting this happen.

Boo indeed.

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Time to cut out the parasitic middle-man...

Time to cut out the parasitic middle-man organism that is the RIAA. Its initial purpose was to supply the technology that enabled production and transmission of artistic content to the customer, enhancing their enjoyment of life. This parasite has spiralled out of control, now taking the majority of artist's profits, driving up the cost of their works, and unilaterally treating their *customers* as criminals.

We now have the technology for artists to easily record, mix, and distribute DRM-free audio and video media themselves for reasonable prices through a storefront the web (excluding iTunes, another fat cat...). All profits go to the artists (who can donate a portion to charity if they so wish instead of lining some RIAA fat cat's pockets). Artists win through more cash, tax deductions, and advertising benefits related to supporting charities, charities win, consumers win by being involved in a non-toxic transaction and by being treated as a person of value (not a criminal).

People would most likely participate in such a scheme, particularly for artists who do some donation to charity (what dedicated fan is too lazy to type their favourite artist's name into Google?). It's time to purge the disease, it is out of control.

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Okay then.

Okay then. I will NEVER EVER purchase another CD or music DVD or any other format. NEVER EVER.

I haven't bought more than a couple in the past few years, but from now on - NONE. Nada.

It makes me sick to even look at a Music CD. All I think about is the RIAA and their scummy lawyers. Yuck. I need to take a shower even after just walking past the CD section at the big box store.

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What happens next when the bully wins?

<quote> "This is what can happen if you don't settle," Gabriel said.</quote>

The gloating has started. You pay us your bribe on time and we will not beat you some more.

The question is: Will that money go to the poor starving artist who "lost" all those sales when these songs were uploaded? I think not!

Oh, and where is the Paris Hilton angle?

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appeal?

Surely she will simply appeal?

Also how could her attorney (or whatever american is for solicitor) allow the case to descend to where it did?

analogy:

You are guilty because you put the items in your pocket, and may have been intending to steal them. - i.e. probably guilty but not proven.

In the UK a store has to wait until you've actually stolen things by taking them from the store - is it not the same in the US? Is the possibility of committing a crime enough?

Presumably the fine took into account all 1,702 songs, including the 1,678 which she wasn't even formally accused of sharing - in which case $1,200 per song seems entirely reasonable (this is IRONY) assuming that she shared each one 500 or so times to cover the loss to the record company. Assuming a 3 MB song that's just under 2.5 TB - in which case surely the ISP would have sued her long before the RIAA got around to it, just for the bandwidth.

In the UK damages generally fit the losses - in this case there wasn't even evidence of loss - how can there be compensation. I understand about punitive damages, but this seems excessive.

Good old RIAA thrashing on the floor in it's death throes, as more and more new music comes up through technology, never actually bothering to sign a contract. You can see why.

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So making things *available* for sharing is now illegal?

Fine. So I have to keep all my CDs locked in a safe to which I only have access? And woe betide me should my mp3 player with legal non-DRM files on be left around where someone could perhaps, should they wish, copy them.

What a f*cking joke. This is right up there with the UK's current speed camera laws - guilty until proven innocent.

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This post has been deleted by its author

The song you hear is Taps

Clawing at society's weakest and smallest in some bid to exhibit industry superiority will only hasten the moribund recording industry's long-foretold funeral.

Music will survive. The free market will survive. Monopolies bring nothing to music. Eventually, the musicians and the audience will realize that cutting the big-fat-parasites out of the middle will improve the product.

The music "industry" will be more vivacious and creative when those within it are more likely creators and performers than lawyers.

Until then, the corpulent menace will have its legal victims (this poor woman). The rest of us, however, are just as much its victims.

And what can be said of this jury? The education system, the victimhood culture, megalomania, and a whole host of evils can be blamed, but these people will one day realize they were duped into legalist sanctions that will eventually hurt everyone. There would not be a soft enough bed in which my conscience could rest had I participated in this travesty.

We rot from the inside while our mercenary institutions goad us downward.

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Judge and jury should be executed

I'm not a violent person. Never have been, and I hope I'm never driven to the point where I have to be. But this judge and this jury should seriously be executed. The judicial system is in place to uphold the law, NOT to fill the pockets of greedy corporations. And the judicial system is SUPPOSED to require EVIDENCE of wrongdoing. Not hearsay, not sleight of hand or illusion, but real, solid evidence.

Even if the law says that making a copyrighted work available without prior consent is illegal (believe it or not, I believe this is actually true), how can you determine if a copyrighted work is "available" without downloading it to verify? It reminds me of the university professor with the last name of "Usher" who decided to share his lectures. He was sued because the RIAA/labels accused him of sharing copyrighted material made by the artist known as "Usher". My point is that showing a list of files doesn't mean jack. It's the actual content of those files that is important. I could have a file on my PC called "Metallica - Unforgiven.mp3", but that doesn't mean that's what it is. It could be a file filled with me saying "Fuck Metallica and fuck the RIAA" over and over again.

This judgement is a *VERY* dangerous precedent, handed down by a judge and jury who have no idea how the technology works. Worse, given the "damages" awarded of $9,250 PER SONG, I would guess a fair amount of jury tampering occurred. But hey, what could be more American than bribing a jury to get the outcome in your favor?

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TAO

This success will become a huge failure. Why? Because the judge screwed up very, very badly.

This case’s appeal is going to put a busted ostrich egg in the face of both the judge AND the RIAA. The instructions were clearly outside of the scope of the law, and on top of that, the RIAA never actually proved that DAMAGES occurred. Also, why has no one argued that the DOWNLOADER is responsible for infringement rather than the person “making available?” In the real world, if you make a copy of a CD for someone else, you’re infringing, but if someone makes a copy of a copyrighted item that you, the library, or a rental chain like Blockbuster lends or rents to them, THEY have committed the infringement. There is no feasible way to defeat this analogy. The actual copyright violation occurs not because of the (potentially accidental) availability of the file, but rather because the downloader, copier, or ripper willingly and intentionally chose to make a duplication of the file that would not fall under a fair use exemption.

The jury has essentially made you liable for infringement if your friend borrows a CD from you and decides to rip it without your knowledge or consent before returning it.

I would expect Blockbuster to file an amicus brief for the appeal, because if this ruling is allowed to stand, Blockbuster is “making available” a TON of copyrighted media, and they commit copyright infringement with every rental that chooses to duplicate the rented item. They made it available, after all.

The utter stupidity of the instructions is easily found when the implications of those instructions are applied to all situations that would fall under the wording of those instructions, and that’s why this is going to be one hell of an EASY appeal.

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Anonymous Coward

This is stupid.

Someone needs to teach the little buggers that is the RI Ass A a lesson.

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This post has been deleted by its author

We have sunk to a new low...

As Isaiah puts it (chapter 10, verses 1-2, K.J.V.):

"1. Woe unto them that decree unrighteous decrees, and that write grievousness which they have prescribed:

"2. To turn aside the needy from judgment, and to take away the right from the poor of my people, that widows may be their prey, and that they may rob the fatherless!"

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If you're in the US, you're screwed.

If you ever make a mistake, allow any non-free copyrighted material to be accessed publicly from your machine, even by accident, this precedent could now be used to win a lawsuit against you. Welcome to the USA, land of the free, home of the legally liable.

I hope your operating system is REALLY secure folks. Damn I'm glad I live in a country with a little more brains and a little less litigation.

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Tom
Bronze badge

Appeal grounds

"Judge Michael Davis ruled the labels did not have to prove the songs were transfered for Thomas to be held liable." Wrong, very very wrong.

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Rob

Burden of proof

This was not a CRIMINAL trial it was a CIVIL trial with much less of a burden of proof on the prosecution. That probably has a lot to do with how such an atrocity was allowed to happen. Today I am ashamed (more than usual) to be an American.

From what I understand the defendant had been using a rather unique username online for a few years. The RIAA's snoop squad found that username on KaZaA and browsed the host, saw the files available for download, recorded the IP, and eventually filed suit. They might have even downloaded a few to verify the content, who knows. *shrug* Add that with the hard drive being conveniently replaced it creates reasonable suspicion of guilt and that's all the jury seemed to need. The thing that disgusts me is the fine.

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Re: Music boycott mentioned above

Hear hear. Same from me. The RIAA can blow me.

I wonder what's safer; the Mute network (no decent servents that I know of) or Tor hidden services? Hmm. I do not presently share copyrighted files but this has set me thinking about what might be the best method...I'll certainly never be buying any more CDs or legal downloads though.

The record companies are panicking because we don't need them any more, that's all this is. They'd like to keep us in the age of vinyl so that they could have the monopoly on the 'means of production' again but those days are gone.

By the way, reading the article closely the judge seems to suggest that if you make something available *without your knowledge* you are still liable. That's incredible. In a sense, didn't IBM make those tracks available by creating the x86 PC?

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Disgusting...

I have nothing really to add, but I want to register my belief that this is a horrible, disgusting, nasty, unrighteous, heinous, evil, foul, grotesque, sickening, atrocious, offensive, depraved, nefarious, repugnant, loathsome, villainous, wicked, sinful, vile, repulsive, egregious, abominable, dreadful, scuzzy, sleazy, no good, dirty, low down, filthy, rotten, putrid, mean, spoiled, god-awful, diseased ruling.

It sucks too.

To whom do I write letters nasty letters, and where is my thesaurus?

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Send em to Jail

Its about time they added some jail time for these file shares, they are nothing more than your common criminal.

If you share music which you didnt create what gives anyone the right to then distribute it.

Lefty nutters I think

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Mega Capitalism chewing its own leg off

This is the long foretold protectionist measures coming into play. Eventually this pathetic excessive form of capitalism will only have itself to live off. That will be funny to watch.

Everybody should move to Russia. They're less communist there.

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Anonymous Coward

Wait for the appeal ...

There _has_ to be one. Hopefully someone will help out with the legal fees - she should ask for donations if nothing else.

In the meantime, I too am thinking of buying the Radiohead album next week, and not paying 0.00 for it; maybe more artists will follow suit.

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Anonymous Coward

People will understand

From

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7029229.stm

"The US record industry said people would understand the verdict."

Wrong.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The only thing I understand is that the RIAA and all similar such organisations are parasites.

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Anonymous Coward

How did this guy pass the bar exam?

This guy's logic is quite flawed. That means that everyone is free to point the finger at anyone without any burden of proof i.e. RIAA can create a bunch of fake IPs and blatantly accuse anyone that they like as they have done so in the past. Maybe this guy was solicited by RIAA with kickbacks underneath the table. She should appeal with a better attorney.

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In Switzerland its legal to share

And god am I happy about it.

I thought that punitive damages ought to hurt but not bankrupt. What kind of legal system is that where you get to pay four years salary for sharing a couple songs.

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Anonymous Coward

Where's the wolf when we need him ?

"Once upon a time there were three little pigs and the time came for them to leave home and seek their fortunes." (s**t, was that copyrighted material ??? ...coat, taxi)

Those three greedy pigs named RIAA, MPAA, and BSA actually found their fortunes... now, where's the wolf who'll eat the little tards and put an end to our fortunes becoming theirs ?

Mr Wolf, just do the first two pigs in and we'll be very happy, as the third's house may prove quite a hassle to blow off...

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This is NOT good

I am quite dismayed that the RIAA got a judgment its way. Actually, I don't even care if the lady IS guilty, I just don't want the RIAA getting more gung-ho than it is already, and I can just imagine the smugness oozing from the guy's face.

I'm sure that, now that he's feeling so superior, he's going to celebrate by beating up a grandma.

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Phew!

I can sleep safely at night now. Thank you RIAA. The world is a safer place.

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Anonymous Coward

The real profiteer is the RIAA

So, the RIAA now has $220,000 it didn't have yesterday.

Can it honestly say that 99% of that $220,000 will be shared between the composers of the 24 songs that were allegedly made available?

No, it cannot -- no more than it can honestly say that 99% of any of the other money it collects from other sources goes to the composers of each and every songs that it collects royalties for.

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Anonymous Coward

Defendant also lied during deposition

The defendant also lied in her deposition about when she replaced her hard drive (thus removing the actual evidence of the songs). She claimed it happened in 2004, but in fact it happened in 2005 only after she received a message informing her that she was violating the law. It doesn't help your credibility when you lie under oath...

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Anonymous Coward

Hmmm.

so if she wins on appeal, would that make her Jammie Dodger?

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Anonymous Coward

It's The Law

Do you like the law ?? No. Does that mean you can ignore the law ?? No. If she'd just gone out and bough the stuff she'd be about $198,000 better off by now.

Plus a CD's what, £8.99 these days, hardly bank breaking now is it.

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I am tired of this

And so I suspect that we may soon see that social engineering has hacking over for lunch.

And it wasn't me.

Whatever you suspect.

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Anonymous Coward

Sue Lovefilm next!

I've got a friend who gets DVDs from Lovefilm and then copies them. As it appears to be the person that is doing the sharing that is at fault, not the one actually doing the downloading, I suggest that Hollywood get onto Lovefilm pretty damn quick - they're sharing out millions of films! And charging for it!

On this basis and on this method of calculating fines, they should be sued for all the money in the world that ever existed and ever will.

What a joke.

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Ash

Much like JeffyPooh...

I'll not be buying any more CD's, DVD's, or other media from any of these large media conglomerates.

Sadly, though, I don't think they'll notice just us two.

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Will the WHINERS PLEASE SHUT UP?

When you buy a CD you have the right to enjoy the music, but NOT to distribute it to the world. (Local law may vary. Here in Norway it IS legal to share the music with family and close friends.) You also have the right to make a backup copy of it, no matter what the RIAA says.

Making the music available for download through a file-sharing program shows INTENT to share the music for ANYONE, which the owner of the CD/other media definitely does NOT have the right to do.

'I don't like the RIAA, so I won't buy the CDs, and I won't use iTunes because of DRM'

And how do you intend to get hold of LEGAL music?

Sure, the artists doesn't get that much of the proceeds, but using uTorrent, LimeWire or whatever results in the artist getting absolutely NOTHING!

Artists likes to get paid for their hard work...

Was the fine too large?

Probably...

Was the rest of the verdict correct?

YES!

Just because something is technically possible doesn't mean it's legal.

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What will they do with the damages?

Heres a radical idea...

Go to the RIAA site, google all thier directors and email them questions asking what happens to the damages. Im sure im not the only one who is fasinated with how they are going to "use" (pocket) their ill gotten gains.....

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Anonymous Coward

Ha ha ha ha ha

Like I said yesterday on a basic point of law this woman had lost this trial before it had even begun. The law is crystal-fucking-clear on file sharing of copyrighted material. She should have settled with the RIAA - they will deliberately set out to both humiliate and financially ruin anyone that doesn't want to pay up.

I don't know why so many of you chumps that post don't get it yet; this isn't a moral point, this is a simple point of law. You cannot give away the copyright of other people. Your puerile defence of file sharers indicates your total lack of understanding of property rights.

And of course you're all nauseating hypocrites. You unleash your pubescent rage about the record industry about how you'll never buy another CD which we all know is crap because you will and if you don't the music you want you'll just steal from someone else either through P2P, newsgroups or copying the CD off a friend. You all believe in some ridiculous fantasy that says everything you want should be free, it isn't dignified enough to be leftist or visionary enough to be post-capitalist, you're actually just a bunch or rapacious, freeloading parasites. You need to take a look at your own values before machine-gunning anyone else's.

Like the man said either pay up or piss off.

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Anonymous Coward

DBL STD

I remember when the record companies lost to a class action suit for price fixing cds. If I wanted re-imbursement, I had to produce a reciept with the time-frame of established price fixing just so I could collect a total of ten or fifteen dollars. Nevermind that I'd purchased about 800 of the overpriced pieces of plastic.

Maybe all of these people should get together in sort of a reverse class-action law suit and be allowed to pay each record company 20 dollars (inflation mind you) for infringement.

Why are dvd's much cheaper than cds, when there were more people that contributed to it, even the musicians???

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@Micha Roon

While I think that the RIAA are pretty shitty and using sledgehammer to crack nuts style approach to stopping priacy, I don't think that it is defensible to have states where it is legal to share copyright material (you give Switzerland as an example). It is up to the owner of the copyright material as to weather or not they want to give it away for free, not a private individual, that's the whole point of copyright.

I have several friends who have been in small bands that have had CDs out, let me make it perfectly clear that small bands are hurt by loss of income if their 'fans' don't pay for the music. It's all very well to site the Arctic Monkeys as an example of a band that made it due to their music being distributed by the Internet, but these are few and far between, most new bands spend years struggling to get anywhere, taking temp jobs to make ends meet. Also, it is very east to get the money together to form a guitar band, you really don't need that much kit, your most expensive item will likely be your drum kit, which can offen be hired. If you want to do stuff with more interesting instruments, synths, drum machines, strings, brass, you are looking at a professional studio and a load of cash.

Basically the point I'm trying to make is that distributing other's material isn't a victimless crime. But also fuck the RIAA, they are scum.

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What she did was wrong

It's about scale - it's a lot less OK to publish copyrighted content to the whole world than it is to slip a copy to your mate.

People do have reduced salary & job security because of file sharing.

Just as I'm pissed off with terrorists and nutters because I can't take my small penknife on the plane because of them; I'm pissed off with file sharers because the majority of us have to put up with DRM because of them.

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RIAA must have had rather a lot of evidence to get this one through

So, the prosecution had a list of the defendant's IP address(es) and dates/times online?

Which of course came direct from an independent source (i.e. ISP), not been passed to the prosecution for possible tampering with, or was verified by an independent source?

A list which had been cross referenced with said music files being available?

Those files of course having been checked - each and every one - to prove it wasn't just a different file which had been renamed?

And they've got proof that the user id used on the software was linked to an IP address that hadn't been spoofed in some way?

I assume they've also got proof the defendant was using her PC and willingly making the files available for download at the times these files are listed as available for download?

I suppose they can also prove the theory of "making available for copying" being the same as "copyright infringement" is different in some massive way to those companies who pay the RIAA money to rent out the same music to the public? Which can be happily copied by all and sunder?

This ought to have been blown right out the water. Either the RIAA have had some form of shenanigans with the judge and/or jury here, or the defendant's lawyer was rubbish!

I'm off to go download the Radiohead album in protest, although thats a double edged sword too - if people pay for the album, the RIAA will have a reason to pursue their current crusade (no doubt with the misguided and most likely incorrect theory of "if people are willing to pay for music, people will be willing to pay us for music"); if people don't pay for the album the RIAA will assume people are all pirates who want something for nothing, and they must continue their crusade for the good of the music industry.

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Anonymous Coward

she should countersue...

...and be awarded damages from the RIAA for the sheer inanity of the music they push out to consumers. $20,000/song should do it.

(and I won't be buying any new CDs either--it's just a shame that in such a boycott, the artists don't even get their pittance)

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Just bought Radioheads new album...

...for £5. A band that has the means to live of their own talent rather than let a bunch of executives take the majority.

As its now easier to just download an album direct from the band will this any knock on effects? If other artists follow suit and publish their music online could the RIAA's greed be blamed for hurting CD sales even more because the artists are fed up paying a huge percentage to them? I'm sure many artists dont like to see their fans ripped off by these bullies.

I would like to think that these artists are more interested in getting their gift out there for people to listen to and, as long as they can live comfortably of their sales, arent solely in it for the money.

If there are artists who are in it for the money then they can suck my fat one!

Has anyone considered setting up a donation fund so she can continue her case and appeal? This court case and the precedent it sets could mean many more of us face settlement or court cases even if we are innocent.

Wouldnt that piss off the RIAA if all of her 'damages' were paid by sympathetic supporters rather than by her?

Why not email your favourite artists website and point them to this court case, see if they'll do the same as Radiohead and fight back. They now have the means to do so.

Just a thought really...

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Anonymous Coward

Hanging's too good for them!

Quote: "Send em to Jail

By Damien JorgensenPosted Friday 5th October 2007 05:46 GMT Its about time they added some jail time for these file shares, they are nothing more than your common criminal.

If you share music which you didnt create what gives anyone the right to then distribute it.

Lefty nutters I think"

Why not string 'em up as well?

Can we have full disclosure by members of the RIAA, record company executives, musicians who support the RIAA and their parents, children and grandchildren about any music they have ever shared/copied? then will the RIAA use the full force of law against them. While we are at it what about politicians and their families?

The fine bears no relationship to any loss suffered. This judgment is unjust.

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Anonymous Coward

thats why...

I download music from a site hosted in Venezuela

Thats why i don't use p2p networks

Thats why i would never live in the US, land of the free.....yeah freely delusional

I buy the cd's of artists i like, but hell, i want to listen to an artists CD I ain't gonna pay for the priviledge, if i like what i hear THEN and only then will i buy the CD.

i hate listening to radio, there's not enough music on there anyway, just jumped up little DJ twerps talking about themselves.

i just wanna listen to the music and if i like it i buy it

proud to be a file sharing music lover !

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Appeal? Funding? Where do I sign up?

I would hope for an appeal. I'm not rich, but I'd be happy to contribute to a fighting fund if one is set up.

I've already seen our pledgebank pledges for the Open Rights Group help set up an influential campaign, so I'm becoming keener on putting my money where my mouth is on single issue campaigns.

Not sure about buying a Radiohead album though....

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Anonymous Coward

Easy solution

For f*ck sake, even if she is breaking the law the people downloading the songs aren't going to go out and buy the CD's anyway! Do you seriously think that these downloaders are on the verge of heading off to their favourite music store, cash in hand, when they stop and think "hey, i'll just check and see if I can get it free online"??? This means that there is NO LOSS to the r.i.ASS.of.a, they were never going to get that money anyway!

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She got caught

Nobody is innocent once they are of "legal" age.

Everybody is a criminal in one way or another.

You have all either copied songs or dropped litter or driven too fast or any one of thousands of other "crimes against society".

This is how our governments/corporations like it as they can get you whenever they want to. So called "common sense" has gone out of the window. And don't get smug about being British as it is heading that way here too, if it isn't already.

That said, if you are stupid enough to get caught breaking the law then you can expect to get punished. It's no use whining that it's not fair. If you can't live with it then you have two options. Change the society you live in or move to a different society.

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Set up a relief fund.

I suggest that we emulate the john smeaton fund for fighting global terror and set up a website where we can contribute for this womans legal expenses. Teach the IRA, whoops sorry RIAA a lesson.

This kind of judgement will only be the start. Their mafia style antics will NOT prevail if we actually do something about it.

IT literate of the world UNITE!!!

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mafia strong-arming ftw

Does this mean that anyone selling bullets is potentially liable for any murder that is commited using a gun of that calibre (whether or not those were the actual bullets used or not)? After all, they made bullets available irrespective of wether they were actually used to commit the crime or not.

Actually (well if this was in the UK), doesn't this make the police force accomplices to that murder as they provided the firearms license and did the security (background and premises) checks, does this not make them "enablers" by this logic - after all if they'd denied the person the firearms license he could never have got a gun now could he (shyeah, right)?

The sooner these tactics are recognised as the protectionist racketeering that they are, the better. Can't see the RIAA (BPI etc) going down on tax evasion charges though somehow - companies that big can afford REALLY good accountants so they don't pay (much) tax anyway.

I'm really glad that technology has moved to the point where people can create, and more importantly publish, their own work now - ok there's a lot of crap out there but no more so than the shite the major labels have been pushing on us for years.

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