back to article Supreme Court silence seals Thomas-Rasset's file sharing fate

The Supreme Court has once again declined to hear a file-sharing case appeal, leaving Jammie Thomas-Rasset facing a $220,000 fine for sharing 24 MP3 files nearly a decade ago. Thomas-Rasset, a Minnesotan single mother of four, was the first person to challenge a legal claim by the Recording Industry Ass. of America back in 2007 …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Bronze badge

Only 10k per song?

I thought $250,000 per mp3 was deemed legal, or at least that is what the FBI states. So why just 10K? Oh wait, because none of the presented fines should be legal but are, and none of them are logical but are still presented as such. I'm not saying copyright infringement should be legal, but these ridiculous fines should be.

Notice how my government doesn't even bother to make comments on such fines? They just let citizens take it up the ass for "campaign contributions".

8
1
Silver badge

Re: Only 10k per song?

It always did seem rather arbitrary. Something closer to cost of track X number of copies made by others x up to 300% (as punitive damages) would have more legitimate and have more precedent in law. Higher than 400% is bordering on unconstitutional

I'm not attempting to comment on how appropriate it is or isn't to copy music, just that the legal recourse sought seems hideously unconstitutional.

6
0

Re: Only 10k per song?

The problem with the level of fines is that those were supposed to be set for commercial infringement, not private individuals. And, for the USA anyways, that is what copyright is SUPPOSED to be set up to do, protect copyright owners from commercial infringement.

5
0
Silver badge

Re: protect copyright owners from commercial infringement.

And when your average person couldn't crank out 10,000 copies of a song, that made sense. The problem is that now the average person can, and peer-to-peer networks do that, so the average person now runs afoul of those laws. Because while it might not have been you intention to inflict commercial damages on the copyright owner when you put that song on the file share, that's exactly what you did. From the commercial standpoint, tape didn't have that impact. Each generation degraded it so it had a limit. CDs upped the ante because they didn't degrade, but you still had person to person and time constraints. Peer-to-peer does away with that - perfect copies and unlimited distribution, so you're right up there with the old style pirates who had pressing plants making thousands of vinyl copies of records.

Which isn't to say the actual creators of the copyrights aren't being screwed by the copyright holders who are pressing the court cases.

1
0
Silver badge
Meh

Bully Boys will always club together.

The disproportionate punishment is reflected in the fact that the Supreme Court refuses to get involved and actually put right a wrong.

But hey, just goes to show the lobbying power and bribe money thrown at the political masters to pressure the courts to take a back seat so they can get what they want.

America land of the free where nothing is free....... And justice can be bought at a price.

12
2
Silver badge

@LarsG

"The disproportionate punishment is reflected in the fact that the Supreme Court refuses to get involved and actually put right a wrong."

Could you perhaps explain the logic underlying this statement, because I far as I can tell, there isn't any.

Evidently you do not know that there have been extremely harsh penalties for copyright infringement for well over a century. Also you will have to explain exactly *how* politicians "pressure" the courts, considering that it is almost impossible to remove federal judges once appointed.

"America land of the free where nothing is free" - and you feel that music, films, software, photographs, and anything else that can be digitized *should* be free. Let me know when you are willing to work for "free".

And as for Jammie's situation, it's all Jammie's fault. She knew that file-sharing was illegal, she lied about it, she destroyed evidence, and, as a matter of fact, although she was only found guilty of sharing 24 songs, she was actually sharing 1700.

4
12

Re: @LarsG

I suspect that to an extent at least she was also encouraged in her foolishness by the EFF's posturing. Perhaps if they'd kept their noses out the stupid woman would have called a halt long ago.

2
4
Silver badge
Meh

Re: @LarsG

Maybe if she was white and middle class she wouldn't have suffered such a disproportionate punishment.

America land of the free refers to the fact that everyone is supposedly equal infront of the law. Unfortunately in this case they are not.

Judges are political appointees, they tow the line especially when so much lobby group money is involved. She has the human right to expect to be proportionately punished for her 'crime'.

Instead this is a Salem Witch Trial and she is being made an example of to others. How much will the next fine be for a mediocre American country and western song? A billion dollars?

You say she was guilty of sharing 1700 songs yet found guilty of 24, but you still infer she was guilty of 1700?

That comment alone tells me all that I need to know about American justice.

Are you American? Figures.

0
2

This post has been deleted by its author

Anonymous Coward

Embarrassed by being an American?

You should be.

11
2
Silver badge
Pint

I wonder

I wonder if she even still likes those 24 songs that she's been fighting over all these years. I know my own listening habit over the years was to buy music, and a few weeks later decide that it's crap, and toss the CD in an old shoebox with a bunch of other dead music, and stop listening to it.

That would suck to go through years of litigation over music you didn't even like anymore. It would have to be something truly worthwhile to go through a long slog like that - something like "Ten Years Gone" by Zeppelin, or "Time Stops" by Explosions in the Sky, or anything off of Ulrich Schnauss's first CD, "Far Away Trains Passing By". I'd go through 6 years of lawsuits for music like that...

Beer - for Jammie - for fighting the good fight. I hope your songs were worth it!

3
2
Silver badge

If the record industry is smart (?)...

They won't allow copyright trolls to attack normal users. Then again, I am doing a bit of dreaming here.

p.s. A friend of mine just released a CD, so I really should know better (*SIGH*).

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: If the record industry is smart (?)...

" p.s. A friend of mine just released a CD, so I really should know better (*SIGH*). "

A friend of mine is a professional musician of certain renown in his native market. He specifically forbade me to buy any of his music (he will just burn a CD and give it away to anyone who asks), because of the pittance he and his band used to make out of every CD sold (around 2% if I remember correctly).

They used to make their money on concerts and other appearances, so had every interest to have his music distributed as far and wide as possible, and potential listeners having to pay like £12.- at the time for a CD did not exactly help his cause.

Just my experience, but if one of those "poor musicians" we were supposedly trying to help out by not copying music tells me to go ahead and copy it and *not* buy it no matter what, I figured he knew what he was talking about. Bit of an eye opener that was.

0
0
Silver badge
Devil

What's next...?

... Are the RIAA and MAFIAA going to try to bring back Debtors' Prisons??

7
1
Silver badge
WTF?

Re: What's next...?

She's still got a husband and four kids - can't she sell them?

You could argue that the answer is "No, that's slavery" but then a fine of that magnitude is simply financial slavery - no different really from actual physical slavery.

0
0
Bronze badge

The way out is... used CD's from second-hand stores

RIAA does not like me

I buy my music on CD

I buy them used and next to free

RIAA does NOT like me

My dialup line is far too slow

To download music don't 'you know?

My radio is on the air

For online music I don't care.

And in my player, decades old

I've folk songs, klezmer, Russians bold....

With obscure labels yet untold

My carousel is quite enrolled.

RIAA does not like me

I buy my music on CD

I buy them used and next to free

RIAA does NOT like me.

RUM tiddle iddle iddle RUm tim tum!

RUM tiddle iddle iddle RUm tim tum!

RUM tiddle iddle iddle RUm tim tum!

And now my little rhyme is done

Copyright (heh): ME

15
0
Silver badge

Re: The way out is... used CD's from second-hand stores

"C30, C60, C90 Go!"

2
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: The way out is... used CD's from second-hand stores

BPI does not like me

I buy my music on CD

I buy them used and next to free

They make no money out of me :D

0
0
Silver badge

Re: "C30, C60, C90 Go!"

And never, ever, C120

Although I suppose C-4 might be fun...

1
0
Anonymous Coward

RIAA

Retirement

Investment

Account (for)

Attorneys

6
0
Anonymous Coward

In the long run the RIAA was right

The year prior to the release of Napster (which heralded widespread automated music piracy), the music industry made 50 billion. Last year it "improved" from a previous low to a figure of 16 billion. There's no real reason to believe that the minute upward tick of the last year is the start of a trend of growth just as there is no real reason not to assume that the contraction won't continue.

What is clear is that a good part of an industry disappeared - not because like the buggy whip manufacturers they were replaced by a newer technology - but because a substantial number of us feel that we've got enough philosophical cover to allow us to have the option of not having to pay for stuff anymore if it's digital.

I read one commentator the other day say that the response of authors to widespread ebook piracy was that they should charge for signings and sell t-shirts while giving away the books for free.

So was the RIAA right to sue or should they have rolled over and died when they saw the steamroller that was going to flatten them coming.

The funny thing is that they did see what was coming. They knew that everyone that was saying "no, it'll be cool, piracy doesn't hurt anyone and you'll adapt" was full of it. They fought. They lost. But at least they didn't buy into the BS that you can make a profit giving away your work for free.

0
18

Re: In the long run the RIAA was right

Worldwide Music Industry Revenues:

2006: $60.7 billion

2007: $61.5 billion

2008: $62.6 billion

2009: $65.0 billion

2010: $66.4 billion

2011: $67.6 billion

I think they've been doing alright for themselves.

15
0
Silver badge

Re: In the long run the RIAA was right

In the years before napster, a lower percentage of the music industry was manufactured and contrived spinoffs from X factor's not got Talent TV.

In the years before napster computer games were cheap and didn't take a huge chunk of disposable income.

In the years before napster kids had heard of radio (and sometimes taped off it).

In the years before napster, "pop-stars" weren't *just* purveyors of softcore porn. Some of it was aimed at teenagers, rather than pre-pubescents.

In the years before napster, kids didn't hang out on facebook.

Yes, the RIAA should have taken her to court. But it should have been to the small claims court.

5
0
WTF?

Just more proof of how broken/corrupt the USA legal system is.

9
0

RIAA - EPIC FAIL

I'd expect the RIAA paid her lawyers just so they could get the case pushed as far as it can go. In this respect I imagine they're disappointed they never got to the Supreme Court.

As for collection, I don't think the RIAA was all that interested. It just wanted a decision from the Supreme Court. So, in some respects, the RIAA 'lost'.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Jammie - the last thing she's turned out to be in this case

0
0
Anonymous Coward

What percentage of people . . . .

. . . . would be fined if they tracked everyone back 10 years? In UK it must be at least high 80% of households. Kids don't seem to pay for their music these days. More curious, what percentage of iPods, smart phones, tablets etc owned by the offsprings of MPs, Senators, . . . if audited would contain at least 1 pirated song? Would they be happy to be invoiced at the measly rate of $10K or would the law find a pitiful exception whilst continuing to allow others to be prosecuted?

Brings to mind the cannabis argument: Dangerous drug cannot be legalised EVER.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_British_politicians_who_admit_to_cannabis_use

When they did that they were just experimenting of course, others were committing a crime though. Now they are reformed no doubt and don't do drugs. House of commons is full of alcohol!?!

If music tracks are so expensive then what about movies? Do a youtube search for full movie HD English. Google can't stop that?

Governments ultimately determine laws. I saw a stupid comment on a Beeb HYS: ". . . at least if we don't like the government we can vote them out . . .". WTF?? Do you think that's air you're breathing now?

4
1
Silver badge
WTF?

"it may embolden copyright trolls who stepped into RIAA's shoes and have no good reputation to protect"

Sorry, the Recording Industry Ass. of America has a good reputation now?!

2
0
Anonymous Coward

I don't get this, how can a court deem this kind of fine reasonable?...

I am pretty sure in the UK if this went to court, the damages would be negligible.. Last time I read (but I might be wrong) damages paid are actually related to the damage caused, which of course would need to be proven first... so think about it.... you download 1 song, then share it maybe 10 times... damage is £11 based on 99p per track average price...

Try getting a UK court other than a Small Claims court to see a case such as that...

even with movies, a single Digital download (of a film already on Blu-Ray/DVD), say £9.99 damage per copy, unless you share thousands of times... most would only share once or twice, so damage maybe £30-£40 per download...

That is why I don't get 22k per track, or even 1K per track.. unless there is PROVEN losses caused, surely its a negligible matter and really they should go after the file sharing sites more than the consumer who probably does it down to financial(can't afford it) & practicality(want it in another format) reasons rather than maliciousness...

Now where I do understand the copyright holders going after pirates, is films still at the cinema and unreleased tracks.. that is a clear violation of copyright in a way that will severely harm their business... and people who do 'cams' in the cinema are just harming the industry! maybe a few years ago when it was 6 month between cinema release and blu-ray release it was worth it, now its like 3 months....

0
0
Pirate

Crime & Punishment

My object all sublime

I shall achieve in time —

To let the punishment fit the crime —

The punishment fit the crime;

The Mikado, G & S

Obviously the RIAA's lawyers have never wandered through their client's back catalog.

As there's no Mikado icon, we'll have to make do with the Pirates of Penzance.

3
0
Mushroom

It's what you wanted; now take it and be happy with it.

""There's no way that they can collect," she told the Chicago Sun-Times. "Right now, I get energy assistance because I have four kids. It's just the one income. My husband isn't working. It's not possible for them to collect even if they wanted to. I have no assets.""

Then tell your husband to get off his useless butt and head on down to the nearest fast food joint to start flipping burgers. Let's see, the national U.S. minimum wage is $7.25/hr, and she has a $220,000 fine to pay. Should take...around 7 years, working 12-hour shifts each day (no vacation time, of course)...her "energy assistance" is apparently enough to carry all of them through these times, so her husband shouldn't see a single penny of the money he's earned--he married her, and according to their main religious philosophy, when two people are married, they become one person...so he's also responsible for her crime. I mean, she helped vote in a government that could be bought by political interests--she did vote for the other guys/gals, but she didn't campaign enough for them, so it's all her fault-- so this IS what she wanted, right?

Man, this planet sucks.

0
0
Bronze badge
Thumb Down

I am NOT an RIAA shill

But you do understand, don't you, that the RIAA originally offered to let her settle for only $3,000 ?

Yes, that's right....only $3K (which she still didn't have; no argument there). And if she really had 1700 songs she had downloaded and was sharing; that's less than $2 apiece in "penalties" and she blew that off.

I don't work for the RIAA (or like them in any way), but she's been a jerk through this and so has Joel (he tried to throw his whole family under the bus as "the downloaders"). Sorry, no sympathy here.

1
0

Single mother...

...with a husband? huh?

1
0
This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums