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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!

 

WiseWebDude




msg:3469992
 2:11 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

That is absolute BS! I buy my songs from iTunes, but now I am so mad over that I actually FEEL like stealing some now, LOL. Think that is going to scare people? Nope, it will create even more resentment and make people HATE the record companies even more. I could see maybe $2200, but $220,000 for 24 songs is asinine!

vincevincevince




msg:3469994
 2:16 pm on Oct 5, 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.

Hugene




msg:3470010
 2:37 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I just read this on BBC World, and I jumped to this message board right aways, cause I felt so angry and I knew I could vent here.

Something needs to be done! Do the artists know about this? Are they the ones getting the money?

250 000$ is unbelievable.

I am not buying a single CD ever again.

And as soon as my internet is back at home, I am seeding my whole collection on Torrents. That will teach theses greedy *&%*%

timster




msg:3470027
 2:57 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I never steal music, but these days I don't buy music either, because the RIAA is so vile. I listen to public radio and spend my money on other stuff. My iPod's gotten pretty dusty.

Gomvents




msg:3470039
 3:08 pm on Oct 5, 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. If you can afford internet you should be able to afford to buy some music as well if you can't you don't deserve free music - it's nobody's right. I assume most of you are webmasters, designers or programmers... how would you like it if everytime you spend hours on a hard work some one else ripped you off, got all credit and made all money from the work and you got nothing. Work is work! If you feel they are overpaid then don't buy their stuff but don't steal it! Stealing is illegal - would you walk into a store and walk out with a TV? Why not? People who work for a living deserve all the money they can manage to earn.

edit: typo

[edited by: Gomvents at 3:08 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]

WiseWebDude




msg:3470044
 3:16 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Stealing a TV certainly wouldn't get you a $220,000 fine either. The fact is this is BOTH are wrong...stealing music IS wrong, $220,000 for 24 songs IS wrong, unjust, and cruel punishment.

hutcheson




msg:3470052
 3:33 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I've already sworn off of buying CDs. And I agree the penalty is especially absurd.

You could commit serial aggravated sexual assault of minor children without even being liable to a penalty like that.

I believe people have a right to get paid for work they do. But the performers aren't going to get a bloody penny of this award. This is about people who didn't do any of the work getting paid for work other people do. And that's just vile.

Hugene




msg:3470082
 3:56 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree with most of you: stealing music is not right, but the penalty is way over the top. And then again this topic is very complex: maybe we RIAA should be the one sued because it steals from artists. Maybe when you're stealing music, you are like Robin Hood, was Robin Hood a bad person? Truth is, when you steal music, when you steal a musicians work, you don't make "all the money" (cause it for personal enjoyment) and the artists isn't starving, they look pretty healthy to me compared to the poor blooke that works 12 hours at minimum wage, I guess he should listen to music if can't afford it, right?

Bottom line is: artists that are poor are choked by the industry and not by the online thieves (go look up a band called Broken Social Scene and read how they made it); artists that are rich get free advertisement from stolen music.

Maybe the RIAA should pay me to steal music and make my friends discover it and go to shows.

And maybe I'll sue the RIAA for killing the record format and choking creativity.

Enough is enough. You can bully people but now they went too far.

Action shall be taken.

grelmar




msg:3470087
 4:00 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Something needs to be done! Do the artists know about this? Are they the ones getting the money?

I doubt the artists are going to see a dime of this. My guess is that the money will go straight into the RIAA's investigative/legal/enforcement budget (but I don't know for sure).

Like a lot of people here, I'm a bit of a statistics fiend, and there are a few numbers I'd like to know.

Out of the thousands of songs this lady allegedly made available for sharing, how many of them did she rip from CD herself? How many were simply the result of her collecting songs from other sharers?

How many of the shared songs are in active distribution? At any given time, less than 10% of most label's library is currently in distribution. There's a huge amount of music out there that is currently "vaulted" - not available for purchase. I used to have difficulty believing that such a large % of music was out of circulation, then I started digitizing my wife's vynil collection. For anyone who's done this, you know it's a lot less effort to just go out and buy the CDs than go through all the hoops of recording, cutting, editing, and cleaning tracks off old vynil. Almost none of these old records were available, even though they reside in the collections of major labels.

What was the penalty based on? Was it a $ value per song? Or was it a lump sum "You been a baaaaaaad girl," amount?

As an aside, the timing of this is amusing, just days after Radiohead released numbers on the success of their "pay what you feel it's worth" [blog.wired.com] scheme for the download of their new album. On one side, you have a band abandoning the old model and labels for a listener orientated distribution scheme. On the other, you have a consortium of the big money labels lashing out against a "pirate" who likely never saw a dime in revenue from her activities.

Thoughts come to mind about winning battles and losing wars.

lexipixel




msg:3470090
 4:01 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Before Napster, Kazzaa and other music "sharing" services, CD's sold for almost $20.00

The bulk of the profit went to the record companies -- they didn't mind stealing the music from the artists, (although they did it "legally" by having their lawyers write lopsided contracts)...

You can be sure the woman will never pay any of the $220,000.00... it will be tied up in appeals and bankruptcy, and her soon to appear physical and mental health problems that will develop from the stress --- and all for what? So the record companies can scare teenagers into thinking there will be repercussions if they download music?

Teens (and 20-somethings), the target of the witch hunt are not afraid to drive 100 miles an hour, drink and do drugs, have unprotected sex, or a myriad of other "dangerous" behaviors.

The ruling will backfire in the RIAA's face. Kids will "steal" more music than ever to look cool by living dangerously. Older consumers who might have actually spent money on CD's will retaliate by not spending on "big label" music.

I think there should be a class action suit by people who bought albums and CD's that had a dozen songs on them and only 2-3 worth listening to. I want 75% of the money back for every album I ever bought that had the name of "hits" in bold letters on the cover but were filled with 10 more tunes that would not fly on the "B-side" of a 45.

MatthewHSE




msg:3470116
 4:20 pm on Oct 5, 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.

It's not government's job to fight for lawbreakers (at least not in the sense of helping them get by with breaking the law). Intentionally or otherwise, maliciously or not, this woman broke the law. Remember, the recording companies and musicians are just normal citizens too - and they have a right to have their work (and profits) protected.

I also don't get the argument that the record companies should just go along with all this. So many people say to "change the business model" to make money in different ways besides actual music sales. But I've never seen a good suggestion for what a different business model would be. Maybe ads in free music? That would go over really well, wouldn't it? And I'm sure nobody would come up with ad-blocking tools for it... ;)

<edit>
I think there should be a class action suit by people who bought albums and CD's that had a dozen songs on them and only 2-3 worth listening to.

You still bought them with your eyes open - and someone else loves all those other songs that you hate and hates the ones you like. If you don't want to take the risk, don't buy the CD.

[edited by: MatthewHSE at 4:22 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]

justageek




msg:3470144
 4:43 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

She didn't steal anything. She simply made the songs available. That makes half the web pages that exist open to this.

JAG

CainIV




msg:3470168
 5:04 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I am an music artist as well as web developer of sorts, and want to put in my two bits here.

In the ideal world, the system which was in place before file sharing mp3's came along served to help the record labels more than artists. Typically record labels 'loaned' artists the capital based on what they deemed 'marketable' material, and then would recoup those earnings from record sales, touring and merchandise.

The problem with this stale and outdated method was that the labels used this tactic as a way to write off business expenses and tack he costs to the artist. Furthermore, with many artists in queue on the label, most bands simply stagnated under the contract of the label while not making a penny, and having no free will in terms of choices.

While sharing mp3's was not exactly the way most artists would have liked to see the trend develop, it was pretty obvious this was the direction things were going.

In essence, penalizing someone for sharing / stealing / copying mp3's nowadays is completely useless. It does absolutely nothing, scares no one, and is ineffective. That penalty is also very harsh in real life terms.

What has simply happened is that file sharing of music has become the norm. Often many people don't even think of it as stealing or copying.

The large scale record labels are reeling, due to their outdated methodology, bloated costs and inability to keep up with growing trends. Meanwhile, the medium to low end labels are doing just fine, in fact they have more work from artists who see this as an opportunity to get exposure at much less cost with more headroom.

Ultimately, the labels were only there for funding - something that inevitably put money back into their own pockets and not the artist. My sense is that the 'new' way of doing business for artists will be 'ads in music' at the beginning, or embedded directly in mp3's before a song starts. This would offer new opportunities to artists who would then recoupd from brand names and then could care less who shared, stole or copyed their media.

JAB Creations




msg:3470310
 8:06 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

The answer is simple: if something that is in demand is obviously overpriced, or when reasonably priced locked down with restrictions (DRM) stealing is obviously justified.

Let's not forget some important points...

1.) Artists receive an exceptionally low percentage of the money made on $26 dollar CDs you buy in the store. Not even four CDs for a hundred bucks?!

2.) When legally purchased music is available it's locked down by DRM creating complications for consumers when corporate America never seemed to understand the need for good design on anything.

3.) <snip> CD prices are more then twice if not three times what they should be. We all know two professional coders will get more done with higher quality in the same or less time then eight amateur coders ever would. So selling CDs at the $8-$10 range that people are stealing would likely see a reasonably rise in purchases. We all know this won't happen because the industry is dead set on terrorizing it's own consumers and that most of the people stealing music have already decided they'd never buy another CD...damage done.

4.) CD format is how old?

Not that I find anything that the studios try to push worth stealing, but that is another topic. ;)

- John

[edited by: lawman at 8:20 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]
[edit reason] Violation of Foo Charter Regarding Subject of Dubious Legality [/edit]

lawman




msg:3470324
 8:16 pm on Oct 5, 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.

wariental




msg:3470349
 8:27 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

We need to remember that these artists are not suffering what so ever. File sharing gets them exposure, some people, like myself will download a cd sometimes and if its good go and buy it to support that artist. Not to mention that with the exposure artists get better sales at their music shows. I mean come on.. your going to take one person and try to make an example? It seriously does anger me a bit to hear of something as stupid as this.

Exposure is much more important than trying to make a quick buck these days. Exposure makes sure you survive in the industry, that people know who you are and that you last around longer , hence make more money.

I know most poeple here have no clue about UFC, but UFC built a model on exposure, while boxing built a model on trying to make a buck. Now look at what sport is dying and which one is strong and healthy. Enough said..

akmac




msg:3470368
 8:54 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

While the punishment is excessive, I can appreciate the strategy. They don't need the money, they need the headlines.

Record companies are trying to keep afloat in a rising flood of change, but they'll have to let go of their cinder block business model to do so.

At the same time, consumers need to realize that just because it's so easy to give/get free music, it doesn't mean they should.

mrnoisy




msg:3470392
 9:25 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

My sense is that the 'new' way of doing business for artists will be 'ads in music' at the beginning, or embedded directly in mp3's before a song starts.

The 1986 album 'Flaunt It' by Sigue Sigue Sputnik had advertisements in between the tracks. The ads were produced in a way that fitted in with the style of the music, and were for things like magazines and hairspray that fans of the band might have been interested in.

It was an innovative move, but it didn't catch on. Maybe it's time someone tried again in this new digital era.

ytswy




msg:3470418
 10:15 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

We're nearly 10 years since Napster, and the music industry still hasn't come up with a paid-for service that can rival it in terms of selection and lack of lock-in.

I could write my sympathy for the failing of their obsolete business model on the back of a postage stamp.

tigertom




msg:3470420
 10:21 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have no sympathy. This woman is unfortunate, but because of the 'newness' of this type of crime, I'd guess an example has been made, 'pour encourager les autres'.

Nerds who screech about the RIAA make me laugh. They'd screech even louder if someone copied _their_ original work without permission e.g. "some ******** scraper's ripped off my website, what do I doooo?".

Record companies spend millions on a stable of artistes, of whom _one_ might bring in the big bucks, if they can keep them off the drugs long enough. They have the moral and legal right to make their money back, at a profit, and protect their intellectual property.

Chiaroscuro




msg:3470434
 10:40 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Given that my wife works for Universal Music, and I hear all the time about pirated music, you would think I'd have a lot of sympathy for the record industry. I do think that today's youth (including those about 30 and below - not much younger than I am), have a strange dual ethics processing: The same person that wouldn't steal a pack of gum from a convenience store no matter what, will "file share" (i.e. illegally distribute copyrighted music/video/pictures/software) with hardly a second thought. Part of the music industry's problem is it's own mismanagement of prices and retention of out-dated business practices: if a DVD sells for $16, costs $200 million to make, and only grossed $150 million in the theaters, yet makes a profit... how can a label charge $20 for a CD (the argument might be made that there is a economics of scale, but since the latter is soooo much cheaper to produce and distribute, if the price was $10 or $5 they might make up the profit by selling a few MILLION more). But they are paying for that mistake by going out of business.... it doesn't justify us stealing from them. Now I, along with probably most in this discussion grew up with pirated disks I got from my friends of games and what not, and we were young and stupid and did things we shouldn't have.... but that was when we were young and stupid. If you belong to this discussion, you should be old enough to recognize the importance of copyright (and it's problems), and be aware when you are breaking the law (and that all the justification in the world doesn't make that a non-punishable crime).

tigertom




msg:3470447
 11:21 pm on Oct 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

It's called capitalism: charge as much as the customer can afford for your product. Nothing wrong with that.

The reason _some_ record companies make/made so much money was low overheads, once they'd built up a profitable artist or two, 'specially when they start licencing the music, compilation albums, re-releases, royalties etc.

No one thinks about all the has-been artists and companies who tried and failed and were heard from, nevermore, losing money hand-over-fist in pursuit of the beautiful rock 'n' roll dream.

The music industry is like Hollywood; a good place to burn money. I salute the success of those who made it, and am grimly amused when I read 'net kiddies whining about things like fake torrents and legal harassment.

As for record companies exploiting artistes, I now realise a lot of 'em are drugged up, obnoxious, under-educated, bandwagon-jumping egomaniacs who are quite happy for their record company to keep them in hookers, coke and limousines, but throw a strop when they see how that eats into their royalties, if they ever make the intellectual connection.

hutcheson




msg:3470488
 1:33 am on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

>Nerds who screech about the RIAA make me laugh. They'd screech even louder if someone copied _their_ original work without permission e.g. "some ******** scraper's ripped off my website, what do I doooo?".

I think if you actually look at the techie community, you'll see a lot of, well, antiproprietary attitudes about bitstreams. It doesn't take much more than room-temperature IQ to see that some products and services are MUCH cheaper to exchange than to TRACK payment for. it's obvious, then, that everyone benefits if nobody bothers to track payments at all.

An example: the Open Directory has grown faster than Yahoo even without the resources provided by paying customers. Fact is, the payments, large as they were, were more than consumed by trying to manage the services provided. So, ironically, the OD was made more economically efficient and more productive, by ... foregoing the attempt to collect for services rendered. An academic journal published an interesting economic analysis of it (along with several other organizations that exhibited the same phenomena.)

Another example from my own experience: while looking for something else, I found some content I had prepared (several weeks' work) posted on, of all things, a promotional website for a movie.

To this day I have managed to remain utterly screechless, although I must confess to a bit of gloating here and there.

encyclo




msg:3470490
 1:48 am on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

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.

For the sake of argument, let's say I agree that she was "stealing". The case dealt with 24 tracks. iTunes sells tracks at 99 cents, so the retail value of the items stolen can be confirmed as $23.76.

So how come the penalty is 9300 times the retail value of the stolen goods? How does the outcome compare, say, to a case of a thief stealing 24 physical CD-singles from a store?

The penalty is exaggerated to the extreme - it is totally disproportionate to the crime, to the point of ridicule. What on earth are these guys thinking when they treat their customer base this way? (the defendant was an avid music fan who owns a collection of over 500 music CDs, representing thousands of dollars of income for the RIAA's members.)

MatthewHSE




msg:3470501
 2:32 am on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

iTunes sells tracks at 99 cents, so the retail value of the items stolen can be confirmed as $23.76.

I really like you, encyclo, so I say this respectfully, but you're off with that statement. ;) The value is whatever price is assigned to it, or if you prefer, whatever people will pay. You can't choose one source and claim that they set the market value.

How does the outcome compare, say, to a case of a thief stealing 24 physical CD-singles from a store?

The thief would get prison time, probably wouldn't even be asked to pay anything. Both are lawbreakers, and as such, should not expect to be treated with leniency.

What on earth are these guys thinking when they treat their customer base this way? (the defendant was an avid music fan who owns a collection of over 500 music CDs, representing thousands of dollars of income for the RIAA's members.)

If a bank or store is robbed by one of its own customers, would you expect them not to press charges?

The penalty is exaggerated to the extreme - it is totally disproportionate to the crime

I think I can agree with you there. However, it was determined according to the rule of law. The guilty can't choose their own punishments.

lawman




msg:3470504
 2:41 am on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Encyclo:

I was just responding to someone who said she didn't steal anything. Whether or not she did I don't know.

Of course stealing is a crime. But this case was not criminal, it was civil. The "injured" party had to prove damages. Apparently this was done to the satisfaction of the jury. Whether or not the decision to sue was wise is an altogether different matter.

ytswy




msg:3470507
 2:51 am on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

She's somewhat unfortunate IMO that copyright infringement in the US carries punitive damages - she's been given what is in effect a criminal sanction without the benefit of the rights she would have had in a criminal case - I assume the case was decided on the balance of probability.

Let's face it the actual damages from her actions were trivial.

rogerd




msg:3470511
 3:53 am on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't think that the $24 calculation is relevant. A better number would be the price per track times the number of downloads.

Having said that, $200K+ does seem out of whack for this situation.

CainIV




msg:3470560
 7:03 am on Oct 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

The answer is simple: if something that is in demand is obviously overpriced, or when reasonably priced locked down with restrictions (DRM) stealing is obviously justified.

I don't follow your logic here, how is stealing something that is a nonessential item justified because the product itself is out of your price range?


We need to remember that these artists are not suffering what so ever. File sharing gets them exposure, some people, like myself will download a cd sometimes and if its good go and buy it to support that artist.

Actually, this is not really accurate. The lack of overall sales for artists means less funds in the pool, which means less available funds to record for many artists. Often it is these funds that move artists forward, as in the case of signing with a medium sized label.

Nonetheless, file sharing is here to stay, and penalizing someone to that extent makes no sense.

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