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back to article File-sharing mom begs US Supremes to void bloated RIAA fine

Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Minnesota mother of four facing a $220,000 fine for illegally downloading and sharing 24 songs, has petitioned the US Supreme Court to hear her case. Thomas-Rasset's lawyers have filed a petition for certiorari (from the Latin verb 'to show') that asks the court to review the charges of $9,250 per MP3 …

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Meh

She is obviously an unlikable person that she so annoyed the jury they stuffed her three time.

Lady, get over here and have your case hear in a UK court, it will be a £5,20 fine per song but with the added bonus of getting a free flight home when being extradited. You can then claim in humane treatment and live happily for the rest of you life on benefits and have all you housing costs paid for!

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WTF?

What really happened?

I don't agree with your sentiment, but the same thought struck me: what happened that made the juries impose such absurd fines each time it came before them? Was it to censure her legal team for some reason? Does anyone know more than what's in the article, please?

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Facepalm

Re: What really happened?

I am guessing the absurd fines are due to the absurd idea that sharing a song is subject to a fine of at least $8k and at most $50k. :O

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Unhappy

Re: What really happened?

That's the kind of nonsense law you get when you allow the beneficiaries to create the law and fines. In most places, this would be called a conflict of interest, but not the good old USA. Not that the UK is that far behind really and many other countries seem to be following the same route.

How can it be $8-50k per MP3? Stupid money. The only purpose that kind of fine can have is not restitution, but ensuring the person is f**ked for their entire life.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What really happened?

And here I thought fines had to be comparable to the crime. On Kazaa (not that i ever used it >.>) if you had a really really popular song it downloaded at a rate of say 10, and uploaded at a rate of 1. You were asked to seed until a 2:1 ratio was met. So the fine should be double the tracks individual cost + expenses. Sometimes things got seeded to 20:1 ratio if they were very popular, or higher, lets say a maximum of 100:1

With the average song on iTunes costing lets say. £1 for roundness, that'd be a £100 fee per track downloaded, plus... £5000 for court costs? That seems a little more reasonable.

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Anonymous Coward

And how much so far

Has this selfish woman cost the US taxpayer and court system with her endless appeals?

Now we know who Apple and Samsung are copying, appeal, re-appeal, appeal again until you get the verdict you want and stuff the cost to the taxpayers

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WTF?

Re: And how much so far

So access to the courts should be limited by your ability to pay?

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Re: And how much so far

So, once you've gone a certain distance in the legal process, you should be stopped, regardless of the merits of your case? Effectively, there is a point that says regardless of merit your case shouldn't continue because it's costing some money? Why not just cut out the middle man and say whatever companies want they get?

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FAIL

Re: And how much so far

That's either a pretty sad attempt at a troll or you have a very strange view of justice. You're suggesting that bad law/rulings/awards should go unchallenged?

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Re: What really happened?

The case has been pretty widely reported here and elsewhere. http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/09/11/thomas_rasset_loses_filesharing_appeal/

As I recall she did an awful lot of stuff to destroy evidence and the like, but the conclusion has to be that both she and her lawyers propounding of bizarre legal theories hacks off the juries so much that they ratchet up the fines.

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Re: What really happened?

Actually, if you have even a cursory knowledge of the law and read the Reg article, you'll know how the jury reached the fines they did. Key word: Kazaa. That makes it piracy and distribution under the law. When the original statutes were written piracy and distribution meant you had an illegal factory somewhere that pressing vinyl (you do remember vinyl don't you?). Which meant you were running a serious criminal organization and fines on the order of $8,000 to $50,000 per track were not only reasonable, but probably far less than damage inflicted.

Should the laws be updated? Probably but I'm truthfully conflicted on the point of how. On the one hand, I don't want to see a typical mother thrown under the bus for 24 songs. On the other hand, given the nature of digital media and the internet, that otherwise innocent mom has the potential to inflict even more damage than criminal enterprise did in yesteryears who were at least limited by geographic transportation adn distribution issues.

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Re: Has this selfish woman

The selfish woman hasn't cost the US anything. If she couldn't afford the fine, she couldn't afford the lawyers either. Someone else paid that bill. Probably one of Soros's tendrils.

That being said, she certainly has a reasonable claim for the court to adjudicate.

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Mushroom

Re: What really happened?

Reasonable? This is the RIAA we're talking about. This is the entity created in order to use legislation to uphold a decaying business model. An entire system of artist exploitation is in jeopardy and you can't have that! There are sleazy asshole record execs to protect! Thats why they call it the RIAA, after all...

RIAA stands for Really, Its About Assholes

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Re: What really happened?

Its time to get the industry out of our music.

Support local and independent artists!

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Someone will want to locking up all our young people next !

If this lady had shop-lifted an album containing these songs ( and perhaps un-attributably copied the disc and shared it with a bunch of friends who then did whatever with the files so what haven't we all ), then been picked up for her light-fingered-ness, she might have done a couple of hours CS and scored a slap on the wrist . Given that the internet has pushed all sorts of shiny at gullible clickers, including historically the likes of Kazaa, Limelight et al which bestowed no benefit other than the files any penalty greater than the retail value of the songs might only be justified as punative damages is outright extortion.

If there real culprit be

the clickbait beneficiary

might be he.

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Gateway crime

File sharing must be the number one gateway crime among young people in the US. If the RIAA would manage to lock away all 150 million criminals, crime rates would surely fall across the board. High time to start a war on IP terrorists!

Not.

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Thumb Up

Re: Gateway crime

Sure, it's a Gateway crime - but don't forget Dell, Lenovo, et al!

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Anonymous Coward

Anyone who gets fined for downloading copyrighted content is an extremely unlucky individual.

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Stop

No one in the US gets fined by the legal system for downloading illegally shared content - only for actually sharing (distributing) it.

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Angel

Can we send money?

To help pay for the lawyers?

And she should counter-sue. For terrorizing her. Emotional distress and mental damage. Not the RIAA, but the people there. Try to get them behind bars.

I would send money.

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Re: Can we send money?

If you do, be sure to be an anonymous donor, via untraceable paths.

Otherwise, if not afraid, and if reasonably clean, set up a crowd funding campaign to build a clearing house/escrowed donation system to pay for victims of excessive court or lawsuit-driven fines and fees.

Just, don't make payouts on behalf of the vict, umm, the accused until the lowest likely fine has been set, lest the attackers come back for even *more* money and blood.

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Pirate

Yarr.

Does anyone remember when CDs cost just as much?

The musicians must be paid!

And lawyers, executives, producers, et al.

Screw the musicians. Show me the booty.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yarr.

I remember they rapidly escaled the prices a long time ago to approx 14.00 UKP per CD regardless of number of tracks and with no connection to inflation, and then EVERYONE started using Kazaa as soon as it was available. Nice work, guys.

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Anonymous Coward

The punishment does not fit the crime.

That is all.

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Anonymous Coward

we are the human power elites :)

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Anonymous Coward

Piracy just isn't fair

This Mum is a moron. She had a trial and was convicted of piracy. She filled an appeal and he conviction was upheld. The Supremes should send her to prison because she's a moron and life just isn't fair.

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Re: Piracy just isn't fair

Try reading the article before name-calling.

She's not appealing the conviction, she's not arguing her guilt. She's appealing the asinine amount of the penalty.

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Re: To be fair ...

... she spurned the opportunity of a $25k settlement. Not sure how much lower everyone expects this to go...

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Re: To be fair ...

The $25k settlement is still manifestly unfair, and by continuing to fight she at least keeps open the possibility of a win, saving others from $millions of unreasonable fines in the future.

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Re: Piracy just isn't fair

Interestingly, the state have mostly set the penalties for writing a fraudulent cheque to be "pay it back, plus three times the amount punitively to the state". That's be an perfectly reasonable fine, IMHO, and probably something that most people could afford for the even hundreds of tracks they're accused of sharing, but it's enough to make people actually consider how "free" the downloading actually is.

I don't think the recording industry will think that's worth the attorney's time, though.

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Anonymous Coward

Fined for 220k, upped to 1.92m then 1.5m

WTF IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE!?

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Anonymous Coward

No worries, they probably just pick random ludicrous numbers out of a hat each time. Who would the money go to anyway, bearing in mind possibly some of the record companies and artists might be overseas? the judge's dog's beautician's retirement party charity?

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Didn't some dude named Kafka write about this insane case?

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Pirate

Kafka's Trial and peonage

I've read it, and it's a depressing book, describing circumstances seen through the paranoid imagination of someone suffering a severe mental illness made worse by cruel parenting. What they are putting her through is similarly inhumane, but unlike Kafka's imagined trial, this one is really happening outside of her head.

Peonage is all too depressingly a real form of debt slavery which keeps being reapplied to vulnerable people in order to exploit them for profit. "I own my soul to the company store" is part of a song describing this bookkeeping trick being used to keep vulnerable workers in a lifetime of servitude to their exploiter. It's a systems used by loan sharks very openly today, and by those pimping off illegal immigrants and child prostitutes also.

Effectively the US courts are saying to her that the RIAA own her, and everything she ever earns in her lifetime belongs to them. It's a form of slavery brought back in arbitrary manner reinforced by the US feral courts, and entirely at odds with the intentions behind the US Constitutional Bill of Rights. I hope she wins a legal battle against the form of slavery described as peonage more generally.

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$9,250 per MP3?

W.A.B.O.C.

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Part of a swarm

If 1000 people use p2p to take a track, the RIAA can fine one for distributing 999 copies, then fine the next for distributing 999 copies and so on until they get paid for 999,000 copies when only 1000 were distributed. I could understand fining Jammie Thomas-Rasset for her part in the unauthorised distribution, but not for the actions of the entire swarm.

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Why the hell

does the jury get to decide on the fine anyway? Are these people qualified to make such decisions? The average person has little to no clue about the nature of intellectual property, as evidenced by the blind parroting of the record companies' "Piracy is theft" mantra that you can find in any internet forum.

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The Founding Fathers are Confused

The Copyright Clause of the US Constitution reads "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."

Our (the USA) Founding Fathers would probably be confused about how can a company claim copyright, when the constitution only gives it to the person(s) originating the work? They'd likely be even more confused about why copyright can be claimed for such a long time, when the original length was 14 years, with a 14 year extension if the original author(s) was still alive.

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Re: The Founding Fathers are Confused

Simply Awesome! You've hit the nail on the head.

That's probably why the fines are so excessive - they don't want people to find out it's a massive scam.

You should be on her legal team.

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so its like a house

jack up the price to several million then wonder why no one is buying any these days???

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nothing left to lose

she already owes more than 200k so what's a few hundred thousand more?

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Devil

Extortion........

"This is not just. It is unfair, it is not due process, for an industry to sue 12,500 people and threaten to sue 5,000 more, wielding a statute for which they lobbied, under which they can threaten hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in statutory damages, where the only way to resist is through modern, complex, expensive federal process, so that the only reasonable choice is to pay the settlement and be done. That's extortion, not law," the brief states.

This is not extortion - it's corporate crime.

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Riddle me this

The verdicts against her range from $54,000 to *33 times* as much ($1.8 mil). What the hell is that all about? Do they just spin some kind of RIAA donated roulette wheel to determine the verdict?

I respect Americans for many things but their "justice" system is a case of getting the best verdict you can afford. Great if you're the RIAA and can afford to hire battalions of lawyers and buy law-makers. Blows pretty hard if you're merely a citizen. I wish it could go without saying... but it really shouldn't be like that.

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Re: Riddle me this

Because jury selection is even more perverse. Only the least competent are allowed to hear cases.

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WTF?

Surely they should have to prove damages?

Why don't the copyright holders have to provide evidence of material loss? I know I'm in blighty but if I take someone to court I have to provide evidence of some loss (earnings/reputation etc.) should this not always be the case?

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Re: Surely they should have to prove damages?

Morally, yes, they should, and in a well-crafted legal system they would, however the US passed law to set the costs at this ridiculous level, unrelated to the amount of harm done

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Boffin

Re: Surely they should have to prove damages?

If the punishment was restricted purely to direct losses...

Consider the scenario:

I sell illegal copies of a physical CD for £10 each. If all I'm ever going to be fined is the £10 per CD sold, where's the dis-incentive??? I can only ever be fined for as many as they can prove I've sold, and since it is likely they will only be able to prove a subset have been sold, I win.

There needs to be a punitive element to the fine to discourage illegal activity (and I'm not making any statement on the value of the punitive element, just pointing out there needs to be a punitive element)

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Re:There needs to be a punitive element

That's why the courts tend to award triple damages. I guess you missed that.

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I wonder what punishment...

... she would have received if she had shoplifted three albums?

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Holmes

$25,000 donated to charity

She had the option to settle at 25k, of which the RIAA would not have received a penny.

Her bad.

That doesn't excuse the frankly ludicrous fines in the first place though. I have to ask...what calculation did the jury use to get to this figure, given the RIAA is happy to give awards away to charity (ie implying there was no direct financial loss to them or their stakeholders)? hopefully one that didn't include figures plucked from thin air...

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