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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 $222,000 [nytimes.com]
That's a lot of money!
Something needs to be done! Do the artists know about this? Are they the ones getting the money?
250 000$ 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 *&%*%
[edited by: Gomvents at 3:08 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]
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.
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.
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.
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.
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... ;)
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.
[edited by: MatthewHSE at 4:22 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]
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.
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. ;)
[edited by: lawman at 8:20 pm (utc) on Oct. 5, 2007]
[edit reason] Violation of Foo Charter Regarding Subject of Dubious Legality [/edit]
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..
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
iTunes sells tracks at 99 cents, so the retail value of the items stolen can be confirmed as $23.76.
How does the outcome compare, say, to a case of a thief stealing 24 physical CD-singles from a store?
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.)
The penalty is exaggerated to the extreme - it is totally disproportionate to the crime
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.
Let's face it the actual damages from her actions were trivial.
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.