The State of the Art
Ambulance chasing in the 21st century. $80k a track. Who was the jury. The CEO and their kids of the fortune 500?
Faced with a $1.92 million fine, convicted file-sharer Jammie Thomas-Rasset's is seeking to undergo a third trial or have the "excessive, shocking, and monstrous" verdict against her reduced. The Minnesota mom of four was found guilty of copyright infringement last month for downloading and sharing 24 songs through the Kazaa …
Ambulance chasing in the 21st century. $80k a track. Who was the jury. The CEO and their kids of the fortune 500?
Jammie lied and lied through two public trials. Now she wants a third?
The RIAA shouldn't get a cent - the fine should go to the US taxpayer. And Jammie should be tried under a different law:
(1) having taken an oath before a competent tribunal, officer, or person, in any case in which a law of the United States authorizes an oath to be administered, that he will testify, declare, depose, or certify truly, or that any written testimony, declaration, deposition, or certificate by him subscribed, is true, willfully and contrary to such oath states or subscribes any material matter which he does not believe to be true; or
(2) in any declaration, certificate, verification, or statement under penalty of perjury as permitted under section 1746 of title 28, United States Code, willfully subscribes as true any material matter which he does not believe to be true;
is guilty of perjury and shall, except as otherwise expressly provided by law, be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. This section is applicable whether the statement or subscription is made within or without the United States.
Isn't this the person that wilfully destroyed evidence and lied to the court? While the fine is excessive, it's lucky she isn't in prison on a pretty serious contempt or perverting the course of justice charge.
You'd think she'd realise that the time has come to cut any deal she can, but I guess she's got idiot lawyers behind her who tell her "this time we might win". The story seems to be that the juries are so impressed by her lies, hiding evidence and all the rest of it that by the end of the trial they'd be happy to sign her up for a long fall and a short rope...
... is that the courts need babysitters so bad that the ludicrousness of this award amount didn't occur to them at the time.
On the other hand, if the damages are actually incalculable as claimed then we have no option but to fall back on the current market value which was supposed as $1.29 each, or in the face of a staggering $1.92m alternative, round it off to $0 per song.
What the content holders still sorely lack is not just evidence they suffer any losses from filesharing, but the balls to suggest that if filesharers didn't get these tracks from Ms. Thomas, that they'd have just said "oh well" and given up.
It's high time we face that fact that no one individual filesharer who is sharing things already released to the wild (even if by illegal sharing), is actually causing damages so long as other sources remain present. You can't punish one person for what others do and pretend you are upholding justice for very long.
Whether or not she owned the CDs is irrelevant. The issue is that she shared them -- she distributed them without permission. If the prosecution did download 24 songs from her, then she willfully distributed 24 songs without the rights-holders consent. The law allows for up to $250,000, AND I believe a 5-year prison sentence, PER ITEM, so the possible outcome was up to $6mil and 30 years in jail.
And the RIAA is correct. It *IS* literally impossible to calculate the damages because Kazaa doesn't keep track of how many times you uploaded a file to someone. Even if it did, there's no way to know how many times those people then uploaded the file to someone else, and in turn how many times those people uploaded it to someone else, etc.
Is $1.92mil excessive? I personally think it is. But don't forget that it was a jury that settled on that amount. Are they trying to punish her? Quite possibly. And if so, then it very well may have something to do with the fact that she lied under oath about the account not being hers and that it was someone illegally using her unsecured wireless access point (despite the fact that she didn't have one), and her willful destruction of evidence (having her hard drive replaced before it was allowed to be examined) and lying about that.
Make no mistake about it. This woman is not the poster child for David taking on Goliath, or for the meek and defenseless taking on The Man. This is a conniving, manipulative bitch who blames everybody else instead of taking responsibility for her own actions. She broke the law, and she got caught. The plaintiff tried to settle before initiating the lawsuit, but she refused to settle. Now she must face the consequences of that decision.
if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen.
Don't mess with a bull, you might get the horns.
If you can't do the time, don't do the crime.
To make sure the system works she needs to file a counter-suit for harassment, claiming this has destroyed her life and mental health unfairly.
Win the trial for a large sum and the system will have meted out the justice we all want. I think a $3-$4m dollar figure sounds about right. And getting the RIAA award down to about $10k.
Go USA justice system. WOOT
63,000 times the price of the song on iTunes does seem a bit excessive... unless 63,000 people downloaded them.
She was fined $220K, but won a retrial on the basis the judge's direction to the jury that the RIAA didn't have to prove actual downloading was wrong. Presumably with correct direction, the new jury awarded the RIAA $1.92m? Now she's going for another trial - what's the damages from that going to be - $5m?
I read the other day that someone who lost three family members in a car crash managed to sue for $75,000, that's worked out at only $24,000 per person. Meanwhile the RIAA sues Jammie Thomas ( who I personally think is an idiot but good luck to her for proving the law is as usual an ass! ) for something like $150,000 per MP3 file. So offering a computer file that harms no one directly, is worth six times a person's life.
The other fact was that if the average MP3 is worth $1 to buy, then she would have had to uploaded 2 million copies of these files in the space of a few weeks, average size 4MB, that works out at 8TB uploaded on 256k ADSL line!
Way to go RIAA, put things into persepctive!
A few thousand dollars is a better deterrent than millions of dollars that everyone knows she cannot afford to pay. The record companies now look like utter bastards and the record buying public feels sorry for her even though she is a thief.
... if she gets a third trial and the fine is increased to $4 million and ten years in prison - for her stupidity.
Some years ago I was working at a company where a trainee engineer died in an unsafe work environment. The company was fined $50,000. Still, that's $30,000 cheaper than daring to put a single song on Kazaa.
Yes, I know it's apples and oranges to an extent. And I l know that the $1.92 million would never actually get paid. All the same $1.92 million for sharing 24 songs is absurd. The politicians who voted this law into effect were not considering the welfare of the people first and foremost.
Well yeah......$1.92 million is rather fucked up. I cannot see how more then a Dollar 92 will make it to the artist themselves. *shrugs* As much as I feel for her I really gotta say our legal system is retarded to let damages of that amount be awarded in the first place.
And yes I know this comment runs the risk of the flametards attacking me because of it but fuck it, FLAME ON *goes and draws a large flaming number 4 in the sky*
/Beer beer beer is good its grain and protein, it's a meal.
"Get 'yer copy of the motion right here (PDF). ®"
Shouldn't that read "Get yer motion's Copyright here (PDF)"??
I bet you can hear the shitty, mass-produced songs for free on the radio, which you could then record on a tape deck. Nobody knows, nobody cares.
But because they can trace this instance of it happening? LITERALLY INCALCULABLE DAMAGE.
Just like they are inflicting on their own public image.
Perhaps if artists were only paid royalties it would make piracy seem more like stealing, instead of the record companies paying small royalties that only supplement the million dollar deals that get signed before any music has even been produced.
I prefer to buy from the label direct online, then at least I know most of the money is going to the people that have provided a service. I'd rather buy from the artist direct, but whatchagonnadoeh?
All the RIAA are going to achieve is lots (more) poor American people declaring bankruptcy and them still not getting shit all.
So.... 63,000 times the value must mean each song was uploaded to another user 63,000 times. At about 3MB per song (and could easily be more), that'd be 63000 * 3 * 24 = 4536000MB, or /1024 = 4430GB of uploads - just over 4TB.
Assuming her upload speed was 256kb/s (typical for ADSL) and ran continuously at that speed for 24 hours per day, then in one day she could upload 21GB per day. Therefore it would have taken 210 days of constant maxed-out uploads, assuming she could do 256k/sec continuosly and that her PC was never switched off for this to be the case. I kind of think her ISP might have noticed....
@ Ian 45: Technically, she's not a thief, just someone infringing copyright. Theft implies the original owner no longer has the item in question (like a CD from a record shop).
The whole copyright of music is crazy beyond imagination. For example, CDs usually contain in the small print a clause to prevent public performance, so I technically broke the copyright by using the track in a pass-the-parcel game at my son's birthday party. Copying it to my iPod is an infringement I believe.
These fines are designed to deter people from running their own CD pressing facility churning out counterfeits.
As for the 'incalculable damage' claim - if they were to actually try to work out the damage, they would have to admit, in a court of law, that a proportion of the shared files led to legitimate purchases, a proportion would have been listened to once and then discarded and the copier would never have bought the item anyway and only a small amount would be regularly listened to. Which of course they would never do.
This fine is just crazy on so many levels. As James O'Brien suggested, the artists probably won't see any of the fine since the copyright is held by recording company. So, the big companies screw two groups at the same time - artists and consumers.
"Perhaps if artists were only paid royalties it would make piracy seem more like stealing, instead of the record companies paying small royalties that only supplement the million dollar deals that get signed before any music has even been produced."
Um, you do know that a "million dollar contract" isn't actually free money to the artist? It's a LOAN. It's what the label is going to invest in producing the recordings / tour costs / advertising etc based on what they think the returns will be - and they fully expect it to be repaid. If an artist signs a "million dollar contract" and then only makes $100,000 back for the label he/she will be expected to pay back the remaining $900,000.
It's a common misconception (unfortuantely also amongst small new bands) that as soon the contract is signed they can empark on a spending spree...
Call it a "music mortgage". When the bank gives you that $150,000 mortgage they're not kindly offering to buy the house for you... they're just covering it until you pay it back.
"Are they trying to punish her? Quite possibly. And if so, then it very well may have something to do with the fact that she lied under oath about the account not being hers and that it was someone illegally using her unsecured wireless access point (despite the fact that she didn't have one), and her willful destruction of evidence (having her hard drive replaced before it was allowed to be examined) and lying about that."
So she should be prosecuted in a separate trial for perjury and the like. I suppose you believe it's alright to convict someone for any crime because you just don't happen to like them very much.
"if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen."
Let me correct that for you: if you think injustice exists in this world, just kill yourself.
"Don't mess with a bull, you might get the horns."
Let me correct that for you: if you're not a magnate, just do as you're told, whatever that may be.
"If you can't do the time, don't do the crime."
Let me correct that for you: if you can't do the time for murder don't shoplift.
"the RIAA sues Jammie Thomas for something like $150,000 per MP3 file"
No they didn't. They never asked for anything like that, that's what the judge decided. Take a look at the RIAA statements at the time and you will see that they were as startled as anybody at the size of the award.
Personally I think Jammie is making a mistake in going for a retrial. She's tried on some quite shocking lies with two courts already and had them (understandably) knocked back. To try it a third time would really piss the courts off, not only that but they may award costs for all three cases against her. No doubt the RIAAs legal costs would probably exceed what the courts have ordered her to pay this time.
Yes that amount is truly ridiculous and in no way reflects the possible damage caused to the RIAA by her actions, however asking for a retrial is asking to have costs awarded against you should you lose.
IIRC the RIAA were originally only asking for a few $K, it may be a wiser option for her to offer to settle out of court for that amount. She must surely realise by now she stands no chance of getting off scot free?
If the MAFIAA are saying that she uploaded 24 songs and then the people that got them from her uploaded and... etc etc
Well, surely if she uploads 24 tunes that's that. If someone who got them FROM her uploads them that's their infringement, surely, not hers? And presumably she downloaded the files from someone else so it's way more lucrative to go for the person she got them from too. Oh, they don't have a clue who that is.
If you're going to sue her based on that then let's sue Smith & Wesson, Browning, Armalite et al for mass murder, etc
"music for which she had already lawfully purchased the CD's, "
She already has a hard copy. She was downloading a digital copy for a backup. There is no laws broken here.......
"She's tried on some quite shocking lies with two courts already and had them (understandably) knocked back. "
Exactly. Some posters here still don't get it.
"Ambulance chasing in the 21st century. $80k a track. Who was the jury. The CEO and their kids of the fortune 500?"
Two juries of citizens (not ONE but TWO) were completely sick of her lying. She brought it on herself. It was Jammie's decision, not the RIAA's decision, to go to court with just a bag full of lies.
Was she hoping for a jury of 12 Freetards?
Eventually you get what's coming.
She'd be a Jammie [fine] dodger!
... If you're going to be dumb; you'd better be tough.
Funny, I was going to say the same thing about McKinnon. Maybe she and he should get together for a little computard session.
Yes, she is a thief. She took what wasn't hers and didn't pay for it. She took what wasn't hers to give away and gave it away depriving the lawful IP owner the right to sell a copy of it.
Acutally you're wrong. The metadata in the songs showed they were in fact ripped by someone else, downloaded onto her computer, and then made available for others to download.
For awarding a ludicrously high damages award for "incalculable harm" that'll never be paid out. Perhaps they were sick of her lying and wanted to make an example of her, but really, what was the point? They might as well have awarded damages of eleventy-billion-googolplex dollars because it's no less likely to be extracted from Ms Thomas than the near $2mil will be. If you want to punish her for perjury then throw her ass in jail FFS.
Hardly does the recording industry any PR favors, either, not that it deserves any of those after years of crap product and RIAA terror tactics. Serves both sides right if they come out of this looking like the worst sort of c**ts possible.
Actually it is generally a breach of copyright to obtain something you purchased in one medium in a different medium. I agree that this itself is rarely, if ever prosecuted, but check teh terms and you will find it is true.
Take this as an example: if you buy the books of Lord of the Rings does that entitle you to download the movies for free? Maybe you think it does but I guarantee right minded folk would disagree.
Also, with P2P software as you download you also upload. Which is certainly against teh terms and conditions of the initial license.
Look, freetards and assorted fuckwits. The punishment may be harsh, but it was not what the RIAA asked for and it would be entirely impossible to quantify the actual damages anyway.
I am well aware that the RIAA etc. view on downloading is unreasonable. Not everyone who could download a file does, and not everyone who downloads a file would have paid for it otherwise.
However it is equally as absurd to assert that as not everyone who downloaded a file they had no right to do would otherwise have purchased it then the loss to teh RIAA etc. is zero.
Look, if you sneak into the cinema without paying and watch a film then you haven't actually cost the cinema anything (ignoring extremely negligible wear and tear), and you may well not have paid to see the film if you couldn't get in for free, but any right minded person would conclude a form of "theft" had occurred in your doing so.
there is no difference in uploading / downloading shit you have no right to load in either direction. Given the lack of empirical data it is equally as valid to assume that teh actual downloading is 0 per song as it is 6 billion per song.
Just because the RIAA cannot prove their figures it doesn't mean that your [also unproven] counter-figures must therefore be correct.
And to top it off Jammie Thomas is a lying, stealing, perjuring, justice-corrupting, evidence-destroying, whiney freetard who is lucky not to be in prison.
The jury did find her guilty of sharing those 24 songs. They probably weren't entirely happy with her arguments either. I don't have any problem with that - I'm very much from the "if you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen" school. Fair cop guv etc.
However, I do feel there are two instances where we've lost a bit of perspective:
1) everybody does it and it's extremely easy to do
It's a bit glib, even puerile. But I guess, as a liberal (bordering on freetard), I believe the law should be shaped by social behaviour as well as social values. It must be frustrating for record companies to see their profit being undercut by what they perceive as people stealing from them, but I believe that they have not done enough to anticipate this, they've massively missed the boat on DRM, and have then not provided an adequate incentive for moving away from piracy. Even notwithstanding evidence both for and against piracy having a measurable impact on profits. Society as a whole doesn't believe distributing mp3s is as bad as the record companies think - the RIAA certainly hasn't helped here - and I believe it is the duty of the state to recognise this fact.
How would a parent feel if they found their child happily scoffing cookies from the jar they had left open? Or if they found that their eldest son had found daddy's magazines he had hidden under the mat in the toilet?
2) existing copyright law is inappropriate for the crime that Jamie has been convicted of
Although existing copyright law may be applicable, I don't believe that it is appropriate when it comes to mp3s. People have hundreds or thousands of mp3s, not just one or two. The scale of the projected damages is now so enormous as to lose significance against the crime, especially given the accessibility of the crime. How can a jury of Jamie's peers understand the sort of amounts they've been asked to award, even if it is only for 24 mp3s?
Perhaps we should have some sort of amnesty or honesty scheme, where people can pay a certain amount a month they feel represents what they're taking from the music industry. At least something that is more progressive than trying to shoot the cat they've let out of the bag.
Flame because people are going to flame me