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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Anonymous Coward

driving us into the arms of the rebels

I am a copyright owner, being a writer who has posted a lot of articles on websites. I have some stuff copied and plagiarised and I was really gutted. So I am very, very *for* copyright protection.

However, the RIAA's insistence that we all stick with their 19th century version of customer service is like forcing us to use horse-and-cart when we are all wanting cars. They won't update their business model and hope to stop the world from getting beyond their own comfort zone. It is not attractive of them to crush a little file-sharing ladybird under a tank. It makes people like me, who respect copyright, decide to deny them further earnings on top of their court winnings by going to file-shaing sites and getting my next albums from these. A sort of f*ck you gesture, until I personally feel that justice has been served.

Has anyone set up a 'help jammie' website where we can all donate $1.00 and help her out? It would be nice to show the RIAA. that folks generally stand against them. I would like to think they would choke on every $. </dream>

What I *do* know, being an originator of creative work, is that originators of this music 'shared' will get barely a nibble of all that money, if any at all.

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Anonymous Coward

Play the record backwards....

If you carefully arrange the titles of the 24 tracks they picked (out of over a thousand and a half) then you get a strange cryptic message... if anyone knows what the middle bit means or who the mysterious Iris might be then let us know:

Welcome to the Jungle, Basket Case.

Here We Are, Rhythm is Gonna Get You. Let's Wait Awhile, Save the Best for Last.

Don't Stop Believing Different People, Possession Hella Good Coming Out of the Heart. One Step Closer... Bathwater Run, Baby Run, Somebody Cryin' November Rain. One Honest Heart Building a Mystery.

Bills, Bills, Bills: Now and Forever.

Faithfully,

Iris.

p.s. Pour Some Sugar on Me

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This story is a joke, surely?

It has to be a joke, come on.

I can't believe that this kind of extortion can go in, in a courtroom no less.

Utter insanity.

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Anonymous Coward

Life-ruining

$220,000??? How on earth can the average person be expected to pay that? I don't care if she was guilty, that's way, WAY above what anyone should be fined for something like this.

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Good god...

How the f**k can this happen? How could they win this case? Does the US even have a legal system anymore? There were so, so many holes in this case and so little clear evidence that the woman had actually done anything wrong.

I can't believe her lawyer didn't do a better job and I can't believe any judge, outside the US anyway, would have found her guilty. The RIAA had better stick to US cases because I hold onto what little faith I have in the legal system by believing that this wouldn't fly in the UK courts. I'm afraid to find out though.

The RIAA might be proud of having bullied this poor woman through the court system, but I find them even more disgusting than I did before.

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Proven content

Sorry to burst the Blockbuster/library bubble, but they are in fact licensed to lend out the media. They pay for this ability. If you lend a CD to a friend, you're using the fair-use area of copyright law to do so. If you've made a copy to play in order to preserve the disc from damage, you're again attempting to employ fair-use, but in an area some copyright holders don't seem to believe in. If you do both at the same time, you've contravened any option of fair use; the original item can't be played in two places at once except by broadcast, which you also aren't licensed for with a standard purchase.

That's the area this case was won on; the allegedly available media could only be copied by third parties, not borrowed, and the third-party copying is not licensed. Making the things available for (only) copying is an identical fault. However, I do feel that this needed absolutely to be proved for each song brought to trial - that they had obtained from that system the song in question. As Chris has already said, names are meaningless. Proven content is the only thing they should be able to mount an attack with. A serious band fanatic may own or be able to find dozens of different recordings of a single song, which can all have different rights attached to them. Montages, parodies, samples, and so on all even have different applicable laws ... including the 'creation' of a 'new', self-copyrighted work made up almost exclusively of bits of others' copyrighted works with a bit of allegedly creative cutting and pasting applied. Chart songs have been sold in this way. Without knowing the content, it is simply not possible to say what rights have been abrogated.

The case wasn't tried on her *claiming* to have (copyrighted) works for download, it was tried on the premise that she *did* have them. Yet this doesn't seem to have been shown in the court. Without proven content this case has to be viewed as a joke verdict delivered on hearsay only. Either that or everything the Sunday Sport has ever printed must in fact be true, because an RIAA lawyer can apparently stand up in court with a page thereof to be used as an unimpeachable witness.

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Guilty? How?

I have absoutly no idea how this person was found guilty in a trial by jury?

I was of the impression that, in such a trial, there needs to be overwhelming evidence to suggest that the person is guilty?

All they seem to have as evidence was a piece of paper listing songs that were aparently being shared from the defendants computer.

What if this person actually IS innocent? Regardless of whether or not you think sharing music should be a crime or not. They don't seem to have any evidence that this personal actually was sharing any files. Was the defendants computer inspected? Not as far as I am aware.

How about I find someones IP address, print it on a piece of paper, list loads of my software that they are aparently sharing and take it to America to sue people without any proof.

Makes you sick doesnt it

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Silver badge

@TAO, @yeah, right

Perhaps Blockbuster pay an agreed fee for each rental.

You sure?, for how much longer?

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Anonymous Coward

lost this customer

We should have been having an internet market for music for a decade now, but 10 years down ther line all we have is a strapped-down, no-rights crappy iTunes shoved with DRM. The RIAAAsholes have lost any sympathy and a lot of future sales. Their reason for existence ended about five years ago and they're just clawing on for dear life.

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Crikey!

I shall live in fear for the rest of my life! What if they find out I copied my brothers Ace of Base cassette when I was 7.

I was thinking of moving to the US, though there are pros & cons,

Pros – Escape the £1 a litre Petrol

Cons – They are all mentalists.

Well I figured I would get done for libel too ;)

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Python's Dirty Knife

This reminds me of the Monty Python sketch where someone mildly complains about a dirty knife in a restaurant. Ends with Cleese as head waiter screaming 'You Bastard!.etc.' (if I remember correctly) at the complainer, after the person ultimately responsible for the dirty knife commits suicide.

Questions of guilt aside, if the fine had been 'reasonable' - most people would not think that much about it, except they would probably be a bit more circumspect about sharing files using peer to peer. As it is, with this daft fine, everyone's screaming 'Bastards' at the RIAA. I think this type of comedy is generally (though rather incorrectly) termed 'surreal'.

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Anonymous Coward

500-fold-dipping?

So are the 500 people who downloaded the files OK since the fine has rectified the situation? Or are the Recording Ass. going to go after them too and reach a 500-fold payment for their "product"?

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Anonymous Coward

This is perverse

In the words of a certain band...

"The lawyers get fat while the law gets bought."

Nobody needs these organisations except these organisations themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

hmmmm

So I am liable for putting the music I have a license for (As i didnt buy the music I only purchased a license to it) on to my network enabled pc so that I might make use of that license to listern to the music, thus making that music accessible to anybody with the skills to hack into said machine and copy the music, or use teh resoruces of said pc to upload the music.

So I am liable???

How is that possible, surely the person that is liable is the maker of the OS, on the pc for not providing a secure system, surely as a non-techincal pc user all I can do is ensure the pc is as secure as I can make it?

Perhaps the RIAA should realise that they are on a very narrow ledge, that with each move they make just gets narrow. Perhaps, they should actual look at the sales figures of music, and notice that all sales of music are down and then ask why?

Then perhaps they will figure out that it is the labels producing crud that is causing the down turn in sales, and perhaps they will start taking action against teh labels for bring the record industry to its knees?

Perhaps they will realise that they are "protecting" the wrong person, that the labels are no longer needed by the artists, and perhaps they should do their job, and inform the artists of their options, and help them the artist to realise their vision with the new technology.

Nah, that would be sensible and in the public and artists interest!

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Hang on a sec

They wanted to consider 1702 songs, with a fine of up to $150,000 per song (as ordered by the judge).

If my abacus isn't letting me down, that comes to over a quarter of a billion dollars that she could have been fined.

Maybe she got off lightly :-)

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burn the witch!

its absolute madness, this all smells pretty unrealistic to me, was this punishment means tested? how on earth is she ever going to pay back $220,000?

is this the price of her life? could you or anyone you know reasonably cope with that kind of financial demand being placed upon you? will it also have interest added to it?

Is this acutally going to be enforced?

This is begining to sound like a marketing excersize, I wonder if Louis Thereoux would be up for doing a documentary on this?

I wonder what the tracks were, and what the artists in question feel about this?

its all wrong.

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1720 records = around 170 cd's

The person should get the same penalty as walking into a record shop and shoplifting 170 cd's

I think getting away with a fine is extremely lenient, they should be doing jail time and should have restrictions on computer access during any probationary period.

When will people get it into their heads that a record company can charge anything they want, make as much profits as they want, if you steal from them you are still a thief

If you don't want their product dont buy it

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Madness

Well in this light, long live Sweden, and the shanty town markets of China and India...

The ruling is disgusting, as is the compensation. I as a few others, will NEVER purchase another CD. Screw the music industry (not radiohead though).

I prefer singing in the shower anyway. Maybe the RIAA will probably put a stop to that too. Next on the list maybe?

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Anonymous Coward

Well....

...I was going to write a well reasoned, calm, decent response. Seeing as how the Judge, jury and the RIAA seem to be lacking in intelligence I think I'll respond in kind.

You are all a bunch of fucking cunts. I hope your parents awaken one night to find themselves drowning in the fecal matter of household pets and that your children live in shame for your wholey illogical judgement, cast out from society due to the leeching and conniving ways of their parents. Please, remove yourselves from the gene-pool of our species you cretinous little turds.

Best go lock-up all my CDs, flash storage, external HDs, DVDs, VHS (Still got some! Retro!), tapes, disks, books, access to my radio etc ... all copyrighted for personal use but not broadcast or sharing etc.

Tossers.

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PeerGuardian & Blocklist Manager..

..I'll be updating my blacklist on a daily basis from now on then :) Resistance isn't futile..

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The Library

Libraries have special agreements and often protection in law regarding copyright and the lending of material, so the things they do do not apply to you.

While it would appear that she done it, and so should probably be punished. The fine is outlandish. I'll take a wild guess that she doesn't have a quarter of a million dollars knocking about, so what happens? Are they going to lock her up for copying a few records?

The response here is to just stop buying the music.

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Knee-Jerk reactions a go-go!

Knee-Jerk reactions a go go!

Posted Friday 5th October 2007 13:13 GMT

At the end of the day, current copyright legislation was infringed and a just punishment was issued.

What's the problem?

I'm sick of all you idiots who moan and moan whenever there is a mention of the RIAA or someone getting a slap on the wrists for downloading illegally.

If there's no need for the music industry "cartel" why are the shops full of their wares (no Z)?

Anyone who actually want to change things should be buying Radioheads’ album and paying more than 46p for it. Send the message that kind of retail model can work. Or are you happy to sit behind your computer happily mashing the keyboard whenever someone mentions the evil RIAA, wondering if you'll ever be the one that gets fingered?

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Anonymous Coward

The comment by the RIAA lawyer

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

Kind of sounds like a protection racket to me. Where's RICO? "You'll give in if you know what is good for you ... see? see?"

And then there are still those here in the US (where I, sadly, am trapped^H^H living) who still wonder why our legal system is viewed as a huge joke by citizens of other countries.

The US system of law and order is truly dead.

(I'm sure we'll get a few RIAA mouthpieces inserting "Oh? Oh yeah? Move to China!" - save your breath - at least there I would *expect* this kind of justice)

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'Analogy'

"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."

I hate the RIAA as much as most, but that analogy is rubbish. The music content was specifically linked to (even if from a BitTorrent or P2P site) and made available to a global audience, with the implicit intention of BT/P2P as making a copy for oneself. Blockbuster, as far as I know, does not advertise content that's for the intention of copying. Furthermore, Blockbuster et al have a special license to rent out copyrighted content - consumers do not, hence the 'you may not copy, rent or publicly show' message that accompanies all videos and DVDs.

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Want to do RIAA/MPAA some real damage?

How about you start to simply ignore them.

An artist publishes through RIAA? Fine. Ignore him/her. Don't buy the music, don't visit the concerts, don't show any interest whatsoever.

A movie comes from the MPAA studios? Same there. Simply ignore it. Don't talk about it, don't buy it on DVD, don't visit the cinema.

Why is this so damaging to RIAA/MPAA?

Their primary income is from heavily commercialised works. If people start giving a huge yawn to anybody doing business with them, their business WILL collapse. They have a large "war-reserve" of money, but not an infinite one. Start spreading the word that all media coming out of the companies behind these associations are to be ignored, and their power will diminish. Tell the truth that buying into this is just as immoral as buying products manufactured by terrorists, because what these organisations are doing IS terrorism. They are terrorising all Americans.

//Svein

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Anonymous Coward

@ Trygve Henriksen

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

yeah, just because something is made legal, doesn't make it _right_. very easy for you to sit there in your nice-and-permissive-digital-rights-country and point out that everyone who doesn't like an unfair scenario is a whiner.

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Anonymous Coward

Radiohead

To everyone banging on about Radiohead: It's all very laudable for them to give their album away for transaction costs+whatever you want to pay for it, but how do you think they are able to do this? They got lucky in that their talent was noticed and fed by a record company. The record company pumped a shit load of cash into them allowing them to produce seven popular albums, go on tours have publicity etc. Now they are out of contract with said record company the cash that they got from gigs/CDs/etc. allows them to pull this cheapass publicity stunt or 'experiment' as they are calling it. This has basically been funded by the record industry, because it's almost certain that you'd never of heard of Radiohead if they started out a la the Arctic Monkeys.

There are many bands with talent competing in the noise of the Internet.

PS. I am in no way suggesting that the RIAA aren't tossers.

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Totally disproportionate

A drunk driver who causes bodily harm to a pedestrian gets fined $2000 and 30 hours community service.

A woman who uploads 24 songs each worth $1 gets fined $200,000.

The legal system in America has gone nuts. It's no longer about justice. It's about protecting the interests of the powerful.

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Anonymous Coward

When are they going after Apple?

I was in a hotel a couple of weeks ago attached to their wireless network. Opening up iTunes showed several other users on the network 'sharing' their files (for listening only admittedly) via their iTunes - isn't this a 'broadcast' under the terms of the law?

Isn't Apple supporting this broadcast (and therefore illegal activity)

When will the RIAA be visiting Apple?

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Title

Time perhaps to begin creating some RIAA honey-trap machines. Logged, audited and sharing 'files' between one another with RIAA-provocative names. Come the court cases, there'll be a few short, sharp legal shocks about evidentiary procedure. Racketeering laws should enable the countersuit to better than match the intended RIAA gouging.

That way they might at least have to do some work to prove future court cases contain someone they can actually label a 'criminal' rather than just 'some bod off the street wot used P2P, must be guilty, eh?'.

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Thumb Down

to the people who think the fine is ok....

Unless I have missed something, there is nothing to prove that the defendant was actually sharing any files, its all down to a piece of paper with a list of tracks and ip addresses, the RIAA could have just made it up. Remember the previous cases where they have tried to sue 7 year old kids, 80 year old grandma's and even PEOPLE WHO DONT HAVE A COMPUTER!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Play the record backwards....

It means amanfrommars is involved.

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You missed a bit

In the words of a certain band...

"The lawyers get fat while the law gets bought."

..."I believe in getting the bastards, getting the bastards, getting the bastards, NOW"

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Paris Hilton

Can she win on appeal

Anyone know her chances on appeal, roughly?

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Anonymous Coward

Boycott means boycott

Svein Skogen has it completely right. If you want to boycott the RIAA, that doesn't mean you go out and show off the fact that you're the thief they say you are. That means you completely ignore their music. You don't download it, you don't listen to it, and you certainly won't have any motivation to buy it.

Unfortunately, the ones who "get it" have probably been doing that for a few years now, so not much will change.

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Making available illegal

Well as for buying the CD's that wasn't the issue of the court case, the woman could of purchased the music found. She was prosecuted for "Making available" the songs. The judges ruling could be used if effect to sue a library, which makes books available, especially if there might be a photocopier around.

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License

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

In the case of the torrent I seed of the Kosmic Free Music Foundations archive CD set, it has a license that says anyone is allowed to distribute it (put there by the artists).

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Donations

There really should be a way to donate some money toward this womans cause. It would be a fine way of telling RIAA to fuck off. For every 'case' they 'win', we can donate the amount of the fines between us, kinda like buying some of the songs we may download from p2p and the money going to a good cause.

To all those who are countering this with the fact that illegal filesharing is going on so therefore what's the problem, the majority of this thread and countless others across the net, share the same sentiment, the recording industry is behaving like a cartel, and we find it unacceptable. How would you propose that we stop these people from acting unacceptably? Perhaps you would front the money needed to take on these assholes? You are obviously such well-rounded(whatever that means) people, that everything in your life is fine and dandy and completely above board, sheep!

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Sick

It saddens me to think that this can happen to anyone. It's not as though she profited by her actions. The fine is totally out of line with any reason. How can any person be expected to pay such a huge sum. That would be pretty much game over for anyone on minimum wage for the rest of their lives. And for what?

It annoys me now that I once sent a demo CD from our band to these labels to see if they wanted to produce us. I am glad that I never heard back from them. We make music for fun not to fill the pockets of some sicko. In fact I have just made our demo available for download, and next time we go and record (at our own expense) I'll put that on our site for free too. How do you like that RIAA? Go download it if you want from killingamber.co.uk

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Ash

82 comments...

... and this isn't on your top 3 stories?

Somebody needs to sort out just what gets put up there. Nobody with a social life cares about YouTube, or what the hell some kid with a botnet looks like.

THIS is a story that has scope far beyond the IT world, and should be heard by as many people as possible if any change is to come about.

Plus, what the sweet buggery are these icons for?! Am I to pick a mood next? "Baffled" is my current state of mind! Should I write you a poem and post pictures of myself looking melancholy from a high angle?

www.www.emoregister.co.uk

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Thumb Up

RE: Judge and jury should be executed

ROFL! I would so tally download that 'Metallica - Unforgiven.mp3' if you shared it Chris. Thats is awesome.

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My tupennys worth

Although Jammie's gonna need a whole lot more:)

Fraser mentioned how the reduction of funds to small bands hurts them. I'm sure it may but I don't know anyone who shares the music of small bands. I also don't think the RIAA will be giving them any money.

The Artic Monkeys are a good example of how the internet helps people to choose. If the band are any good, people will want to pay for the music. Perhaps they should be looking at the model they created. People know good music when they hear it.

Personally, I can't see it as being a big deterent to file sharing. A quick scan of The Piratebay shows how much of a losing battle they are fighting. They need to reform the music and movie industry. The image of faceless money grabbing corporations who use bully boys is their biggest problem. People don't care about them. People won't think of piracy as stealing from the artists as long as the record companies act like idiots.

1720 songs = 170 cd's 170*£8.99=£1528.30

So thats about $3000 which the Artists and Record labels would have got and $217000 to the lawyers and the RIAA.

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Silver badge

Open your windows people.

Making them avaliable is enough to be infringement?

So If I play a CD with my window open and passers by hear it.. Im infringing copyright?

Or if I leave a CD in my car with the window open and the disk gets stolen?

How about if I have the current number 1 as my ringtone?

How about if my PC gets infected with a virus that shares my hard drive and connects me to limewire (without me actually installing limewire)? Whos fault is that? Mine for not having Anti Virus software? Maybe. If I have anti Virus is it then symantecs fault for not having a signiture for the virus avaliable quickly enough?

The recore company sold me the CD... and I share it... Isnt it really their fault?

PS. I do not condone sharing licenced material over the internet.

And after reading what I have written above I have come to realise that I need a dictionary because my spelling is crap.

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I have yet to buy anything produced by the craptastic labels...

I don't buy music... or dvds...

Music because it's mostly all crap...(other than the classics and last I checked they are in the public domain)

DVDs... I don't buy anything with DRM... don't touch DRM etc...

I also don't have any € 0.00 priced music around... All I have is music that is freely available...

and guess what... it's much better than the labels...

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Anonymous Coward

Twenty to one

I heard a stat on the radio today which claimed that for every legally purchased track, 20 are downloaded illegally. It sounded a lot to me at the time but having seen the comments here I can believe there are that many freeloaders out there.

I don't steal music. I don't steal anything. I either pay for things or do without them.

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Someone set up a support page.

I'll donate a tenner to this fine woman. We should John Smeaton her fine away. I reckon that there are several people out there with enough heart to donate a few bob, and don't forget that the pound is worth more than 2 dollars. that means that only 13500 of us need to donate a tenner and the fine could be cleared. John Smeaton tackled terrorism here in Glasgow and got a lifetime of free drinks at his local by a similar effort from online heroes.

I would also argue that maybe we should set up a secondary fund to pay for her TEAM of lawyers that we should get on the case. The first only being an insurance that this brave woman will not be burdened by fear of the RIAA terrorist thugs.

Now to speak metaphorically and hypothetically. IF someone on this sight was a damn good hacker, and they located the judges computer/the courthouse systems and further still installed numerous M$ software illegally and then reported them to the whistleblower hotline that awards $1million for reporting them, then maybe the judge might see how easy it is to be set up in these kinds of things. ;^ )

Alternatively, the hypothetical hacking team could target RIAA senior memberswith the same strategy.

I would never suggest this to actually occur (smirk) but IF it did I think that justice would sort of be served.

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Anonymous Coward

The sense of entitlement is larger than the damages awarded

The defendant was wrong, she knew it, she lied, she had a chance to settle cheaply and passed on it. She decided to roll the dice and play tough against very deep pockets, and she lost. No sympathy from me.

If you want copyrighted music, pay for it. Or do without it. Or keep on obtaining it illegally - but if you do that, please have enough guts to quit trying to rationalize it as a crusade of economic class warfare, or a battle against corporate power. Have the guts to admit that you are taking it for free, even though you know it is wrong, simply because you can. Period. Spare us your noble excuses.

95% of the responses so far are typical of the whiny entitled Me Generation. Gimme gimme gimme, because I want it and I shouldn't have to pay for it.

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Hearts and minds.

The real battle is the battle for public opinion.

This is a situation where legal authority and the common person's sense of what is right and wrong are in conflict.

What the RIAA seems to forget is that in a free society legal authority ultimately derives from the common person's sense of what is right and wrong.

Yes corporations can influence the law making process to run counter to the wishes of the people, but that influence is only possible when the voters are uninformed and apathetic about the issue.

The RIAA actions is forcing people to pay attention at a time when the consensus opinion is not in their favor.

Bad move.

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Silver badge

United Saudi of America

The USA legal system has gone insane.

I once read about a guy that had a tower in his backyard with a burned-out red light at the top (a light that he had installed just for laughs). Burned out light = one MEELEEON dollar fine from the FAA. They hadn't even told him that they'd logged his light and it was on FAA charts.

Recently some clever dudes tried to transport empty beer cans from a $0.05 deposit state to a $0.10 deposit state. They got caught and charged with fraud (maximum sentence five years). Okay. But the prosecutor also bitch-slapped with some obscure racketering charge with a 20-year term. For moving beer cans around. 20-years.

Extreme punishment is a very bad sign of where your country is headed.

Next thing you know they'll be lopping off arms for shoplifting, and beheading teenage boys for winking at cute chicks. Or whacking ladies a quarter of a MEELEEON dollars for joining a P2P network.

Civilized countries do not allow this sort of crap.

Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.

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