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Song File Sharer Gets Penalty of $222,000
engine




msg:3469870
 11:41 am on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

In a crucial legal victory for record labels and other copyright owners, a federal jury yesterday found a Minnesota woman liable for copyright infringement for sharing music online and imposed a penalty of $222,000 in damages.

The verdict against Jammie Thomas of Brainerd, Minn., brought an end to the first jury trial in the music industry’s protracted effort to rein in piracy with lawsuits against individual computer users.

Song File Sharer Gets Penalty of $222,000 [nytimes.com]

That's a lot of money!

 

tigertom




msg:3470649
 12:34 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Every argument I've heard in favour of 'file sharing' (in reality, illicit copying and distribution), is bogus.

The true reasoning is:

"I want that software;
I can get it free rather than paying for it;
I know this is illegal;
So I think up specious reasons to salve my conscience."

I remember the first time I downloaded Kazaa. I'd heard about 'file sharing'. I thought: "How wonderful. Other people can now download _my_ original music, and I can try out their stuff!". (I am/was a musician).

Then I used the software.

I imagine that lady got hammered for distribution, rather than simple possession. And maybe they were going for costs too.

Just had a funny thought: I suppose people who host sites about this sort of thing could hardly complain if their sites got scraped? [grins evilly]

vincevincevince




msg:3470650
 12:42 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

The judge made a big mistake in not requiring evidence of downloading. The Kazaa software clearly states that they do not permit the use of their software to download content made available in a way which violates copyright law.

Therefore, just making the files available does not indicate intent to have others download the files; as all those in a position to download the files had already agreed not to violate copyright law.

If I leave my curtains open and a stranger looks through my window to watch a DVD I am playing, it would not be reasonable to say that I am engaging in public performance. In just the same way, I would not be violating copyright laws if a guest in my house, unknown to me, copied my music CDs during his visit.

This poor victimised woman did not duplicate or delibrately distribute the music; that was the individuals who did the downloading, and it is them - if anyone - who should have been the subject of these proceedings. The person who actually located the file on her computer and directed their computer to duplicate it is the one who violated copyright law.

Deletable personal opinion:
Personally, I hope that filesharing becomes more widespread as time goes by so that the record labels all go out of business and bands can rise, fall and be judged not on record company advertising spends and distribution deals but upon true talent; leaving them to make their money out of concerts, tours etc. And if any politicians are reading; there are far far more votes to be gained by passing a 'Media Sharing Rights Act' permitting non-commercial redistribution of all music and film over three months old than you would lose from the outraged staff of a few stuffy record companies and film studios. Doing what the man on the street wants is democracy so get with the programme.

maccas




msg:3470652
 1:02 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

1) The riaa/mpaa lobby congressman, buy buying music/movies you are supporting corruption. 2) creative accounting, where the MPAA weasel there way out of paying the artists what they are owed 3) artists only get about 10% of the royalties, the studios get the rest 4) interpendant artist are shut out of mainstream radio by the major studios

[edited by: lawman at 2:11 pm (utc) on Oct. 6, 2007]

centime




msg:3470657
 1:12 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I rather enjoy being paid for my product and recieving a return on my investment,

surely the safe guarding of property means something to everyone here

or is

plaigarsm or scraping, or ,,,,,,

now acceptable practice

maccas




msg:3470662
 1:20 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

So centime you wouldn't mind if your webhost took 80% of your income, you could go independent but google, yahoo, msn won't list you as the big 5 webhosts won't let them.

tigertom




msg:3470665
 1:38 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Heh, heh, I have to admit it's fun when the fancies of internet users are tried out in the cold, hard light of a court of law.

A judge has heard every weasel excuse for 'why my breaking the law was right'. And sometimes, in the case of novel situations, they make new law, and set a precedent.

Ignorance of the law is no excuse. Whatever 'legal' notices file-sharing sites put up trying to avoid prosecution cut no ice in court.

If you every want to know if something is right, ask yourself quietly and honestly "Would I be happy if this were done to me?". And accept your conscience's answer without arguing with it.

As a musician and a webmaster, I'd be hopping mad if someone copied my work without permission, and was actually distributing it.

A student of the philosophy of logic and morality would have great fun with the specious reasoning surrounding piracy.

ytswy




msg:3470690
 2:46 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

The really bad thing about the RIAA's strategy is not this case - the woman at least knew what she was getting into when she took this to court.

The real problem is all the settlements that hundreds of people, many of them students, have been forced into. A letter comes from the RIAA alleging copyright infringement and offering to settle for a few thousand dollars.

Given the scale of the operation the law of averages says some of them must have been innocent, but the way the legal system works, even if they win the case it will cost more than the settlement. So they pay up - borrowing from parents or dropping out of college to fund it.

Sure, most of them probably did share files, but there's going to be some who have their life screwed over because someone piggybacked on their unsecured wifi connection or something. And even if they have a good case, it will still cost them more to prove it than it will just to pay up!

I understand a lot of people round here are always instinctively on the side of the copyright holder, but I don't understand how you can condone this sort of behaviour.

gibbergibber




msg:3470693
 2:55 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

-- I have to side with the record companies... I'm shocked at all of you. With CD prices under $10 at amazon.com - full album download at $10 to songs at about $1 each in most cases... stealing is rubbish. I--

I'd agree that what she did was illegal and she should be fined, but I do NOT agree that she should be fined $222,000.

It's a huge sum of money for an average individual and totally disproportionate to her crime. $222,000 is the kind of fine companies have to pay for a worker being killed due to negligence.

It's also a huge enormous political blunder by the copyright authorities as it makes them look like the bad guys, while the file sharers are made into martyrs. Trying to make examples of offenders is not going to work, especially when the recording industries biggest stars earn that kind of money from a single concert. It makes it look like the rich stealing vast sums of money from the poor, which is oversimplistic but that's how it will look.

If they really want to go down the route of fining people they ought to make it a reasonable size, something people could conceivably pay, perhaps with a similar scale to parking fines. That would seem far more acceptable to the general public.

john551




msg:3470706
 3:20 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well it's time for Open Source Music!

vincevincevince




msg:3470708
 3:22 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Well it's time for Open Source Music!

Which you could and probably should charge for, just like Free Beer (look it up if you're unfamiliar).

JS_Harris




msg:3470757
 5:26 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Doesn't Britney have a number one song on a cd thats not even out yet? Seriously, number one without having been released.

The record companies can't have their cake and eat it too. They rely heavily on mass media to pump up albums before they come out.

If I want to record what the radio spits out, or borrow someone elses recording, i'm going to and theres not a thing the companies can do about it except NOT make a song available without buying the cd or download access.

I just don't feel sorry for the big labels who shove songs at us but try and slap us if we don't buy them later.

JS_Harris




msg:3470759
 5:34 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just as I posted that the FRONT PAGE of Yahoo! is showing the video for that britney spears song. You've gotta know that hundreds of thousands of people will see it there and some savy enough viewers will just copy the song file and never buy the CD.

To the music industry - if you give it to us for free on the Yahoo! front page in hopes the hype makes us buy the CD next month when it comes out, be prepared for some of us to keep the free sample and never buy. Its that simple.

tigertom




msg:3470761
 5:49 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Here's a tip for the young: try to keep out of courts, whether as plaintiff or defendant. You may or may not get justice. What you certainly get is LAW, and it can be extremely expensive, in time, money, stress and lost reputation.

If you want to break a man, tie him up in lawsuits.

centime




msg:3470784
 6:13 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am still waiting for some advocate of the free everthing society to put up their web content, all their secret programing tricks, the PPC keyword list they've been working on for 5 years,

up for free download , scraping etc

:) :)

Yes th fine does sound harsh but we probably don't know the specifics of the case

MatthewHSE




msg:3470803
 6:49 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

If I want to record what the radio spits out, or borrow someone elses recording, i'm going to and theres not a thing the companies can do about it except NOT make a song available without buying the cd or download access.

And possibly fine you a couple hundred thousand dollars! ;)

But actually, nobody's complaining about sharing songs that the record companies are already giving away. It's the ones they're trying to *sell* that nobody has the right to give away for free.

I am still waiting for some advocate of the free everthing society to put up their web content, all their secret programing tricks, the PPC keyword list they've been working on for 5 years,

Are you kidding? They worked hard on that stuff! :)

europeforvisitors




msg:3470870
 9:13 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Two points need to be clarified:

The woman wasn't "found guilty," and she isn't being required to pay a "fine."

This was a civil lawsuit, not a criminal trial, and the $222,000 represents damages for copyright infringement (presumably statutory damages, which are higher than real damages in most cases).

lawman




msg:3470885
 10:04 pm on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

This was clarified on page one. Thanks for reclarifying it. :)

justageek




msg:3471133
 2:07 pm on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

>>She didn't steal anything. She simply made the songs available.
If she facilitated someone else stealing the music, in most jurisdictions she would be an "accessory" or "party to a crime" making her guilty of stealing.

Perhaps. Which is the scary thing and why I said half the pages on the Internet today should be worried.

Look at all the social sites that allow people to post their 'favorite' playlists for others to hear. Are those people guilty being a party to a crime?

And how about the radio stations themselves? Just playing the music can allow some to record it...are they guilty?

Or maybe the movie theaters. People record off the big screen and distribute illegally...are they guilty?

I have no idea about all the legality of this since I'm not even close to being a lawyer but it does raise some interesting questions and perhaps more importantly to all web users is the concerns they should feel now.

JAG

tigertom




msg:3471168
 3:02 pm on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Radio stations pay fees for every song they broadcast. If you make a copy of said broadcast for your own, personal use, you won't be prosecuted. If you start distributing copies, you're liable to be.

I think copyright and publishing law is fairly explicit as it stands. It's just that the internet is a fairly new medium, which makes anyone a distributor or broadcaster if they want to be. It's still faintly perverse how many of those who do so think said laws shouldn't apply to them.

lawman




msg:3471170
 3:03 pm on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Hello justageek. The following is generalized. Since I only do criminal defense, a lawyer engaging in civil practice might be able to provide further illumination:

US civil courts determine liability. Liability means damages (money) which can be proved. It can also include smart money (punitive damages). No jail time is involved. It is possible to avoid liabilty via bankruptcy.

Criminal courts determine guilt. Naturally, jail time and/or probation is a likelihood. Fines are set by statute. However, restitution can be required (actual, not punitive, damages). This cannot be discharged by bankruptcy and is enforceable as a condition of probation. That means if you don't pay it, you are in violation of probation and could be sent to jail.

Yes it is possible to have both a criminal and civil case from the same set of facts. Since the burden of proof is stricter in a criminal case, the civil action generally is withheld until the criminal case is over. If a criminal conviction is obtained, since the burden of proof is easier in the civil case, the verdict in the criminal case is admissible in the civil case.

Why procede in a civil case if you already have non-dischargeable restitution? To get other damages that could not be obtained in criminal restitution; e.g. loss of consortium, punitive damages, etc. Just make sure the defendant isn't judgment proof. :)

Oh, I forgot, another difference between civil and criminal matters is that criminal cases almost always require intent. That's not required in civil cases.

justageek




msg:3471182
 3:24 pm on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

So lawman, tigertom or anyone else - I'm still unclear as to whether or not people should delete songs from their playlist on social sites for example?

Does this case open the door to some liability issues for a lot of individuals who simply have music on their pages whether anyone listens to them or not? It seems to me that the jury has said it would?

JAG

gibbergibber




msg:3471190
 3:36 pm on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

--Two points need to be clarified: The woman wasn't "found guilty," and she isn't being required to pay a "fine." This was a civil lawsuit, not a criminal trial, and the $222,000 represents damages for copyright infringement (presumably statutory damages, which are higher than real damages in most cases). -

You're 100% correct, but the general public will not see it that way.

They'll see an average person being told to pay what most would consider an unreasonably large sum of money to a huge wealthy corporation.

This is an awful public relations blunder by the US record industry. Rightly or wrongly it provides lots more ammunition for those who criticise the industry as being greedy, self-centred and money-grabbing.

What she did was wrong, but if the record industry is perceived as over-reacting to this, people will forget about what she did wrong and focus on what they did wrong. The record industry is martyring this person and hurting themselves.

lexipixel




msg:3471272
 6:47 pm on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Were the "damages" substantiated?

Were there logs showing the number of people who obtained their ill-gotten copy of the song from her hard-disk?

What I find more interesting -- is that so few people understand the mechanics of peer-to-peer file sharing networks.

Was she aware that when she downloaded a song that it would in-turn reside on her hard-disk and that when the next person wanted to download a copy that it would actually be served via her internet connection and computer hardware? Probably not, (at least not at first).

I think if more people understood the mechanics, and that they are in fact providing bandwidth and processing for possibly 1000's of other people to copy the songs it would stop or at least slow down.

For anyone reading this that doesn't understand "music sharing" networks:

1. You sign up for an account and install the downloader software;

2. You pick a song from a list and download a copy.

3. The service records your IP info and what songs/files you now have on your computer;

4. Someone else picks the same song to download and the service "serves it" from your hard-disk.

5. You scream, "This computer (and/or internet connection) is so bleepin slow!"

lawman




msg:3471292
 7:27 pm on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

So lawman, tigertom or anyone else - I'm still unclear as to whether or not people should delete songs from their playlist on social sites for example?
Does this case open the door to some liability issues for a lot of individuals who simply have music on their pages whether anyone listens to them or not? It seems to me that the jury has said it would?

JAG

So, you want specific legal advice. Since I limit my practice to criminal defense, I'm not qualified to answer that. But a competent attorney, well, I'm sure for a fee . . . :)

justageek




msg:3471326
 8:53 pm on Oct 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

So, you want specific legal advice.

Ha! Not me but I'm sure there are lots of folks who should be wondering this. I personally do not do any file sharing and such but I'm curious as to whether the music industry lawyer type folks will stop going after sites like youtube and start going after the ones who upload the videos. Assuming they can find them and actually get a settlement to make it worthwhile.

JAG

lawman




msg:3471410
 1:08 am on Oct 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

By the way, somewhat related is a thread I started a little over two years ago about the difference between legal and moral guilt in a criminal case. If you care to read it go HERE [webmasterworld.com].

engine




msg:3471693
 11:10 am on Oct 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

There's an intersting commentary about the size of the fine.
[news.com...]

Copyright no longer abides by the fundamental principle of law, which is that the damages awarded should be related to any harm committed. No wonder Jammie Thomas got slapped with a $222,000 bill. (And I wouldn't be surprised to see attorney's fees add another $100,000 on top of it.)

"It doesn't strike a regular person that by passing a CD around the neighborhood, they should have their house taken away," says Lew Rockwell, president of the free-market Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. "And by electronic means it shouldn't be any different."

It goes on to explain that the relationship between the size of the fine and the potential value of loss is way out of line. Usually, in most of these cases, defendents settle out of court for sums in the region of those indicated in the article.

Clearly, going to court is likely to cost more in "costs" associated with the legal fees around a courtroom battle.

lawman




msg:3471720
 11:41 am on Oct 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

"The courtroom is the worst place to settle a dispute." - Old jungle saying

incrediBILL




msg:3472064
 6:51 pm on Oct 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Reading all these posts condoning theft and thieves make me weep for the future.

I sure hope someone steals all the web pages from every webmaster in this thread so we can see how you react to that reality when all your hard work is being used by others for free and you have to go back to flipping burgers to make a living.

ytswy




msg:3472104
 7:25 pm on Oct 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

I would strongly urge anyone who looks upon this issue in purely black and white, theft vs rule of law terms to read Free Culture [free-culture.cc] (full text available online under a creative commons licence) by Laurence Lessig [en.wikipedia.org].

I'm not saying it will change your mind, but it might reassure you concerning the "barbarians at the gate" view that some seem to hold ;) of those who are arguing for some reform of current copyright law.

Chapter 4 "Pirates" is particularly relevant to this thread.

rocknbil




msg:3472184
 8:45 pm on Oct 8, 2007 (gmt 0)

Strange to think that this poor woman was found guilty under laws passed by people who's job it is to represent, protect and fight for normal citizens just like her.

Well, I for one don't agree with most of the reactions to this.

So "normal citizens" steal? Just because everyone does it makes it right, or okay, or we should just slap them on the wrist and let it go?

Sure corporations are greedy. Maybe this fine doesn't fit the crime. But all of these emotional issues cloud two fundamental points:

Stealing is wrong. Just don't do it.

She had the chance to cop a plea and get off cheap. But she decided to fight it. You're wrong, and you're going against the big dogs with big dog lawyers, get a clue!

This 71 message thread spans 3 pages: < < 71 ( 1 [2] 3 > >
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