Jury Awards $1.92 Million to Recording Companies; Hits Minnesota Woman with $80,000 Per Song

RIAA_logo A federal jury in Minnesota ruled yesterday that Jammie Thomas-Rasset willfully violated the copyrights on 24 songs, and awarded recording companies a huge level of damages: $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song.

This was the second trial for Thomas-Rasset and increased the damages from a $220,000 judgment to $1.92 million. There appears little chance that the a 32-year-old mother of four could ever pay off the massive award.

The file-sharing verdict is part of the scorched earth approach of the RIAA.

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19 thoughts on “Jury Awards $1.92 Million to Recording Companies; Hits Minnesota Woman with $80,000 Per Song”

  1. Realistically they can’t collect- they can just destroy the family’s lives. If you want tunes, movies, games, programs etc you know where to go and those sites aren’t publicized through prosecution because it would just garner huge publicity/traffic for those sites and lead to encryption of the info on those sites. It would probably add to the gross level of piracy.

    The one fly in the ointment is of course the NSA collection of data- if NSA targeted a site and ran a search it could come up with peoples names using a multi-front approach regarding ISP’s and banks to follow subscription trails. It could hand the footwork off to the FBI and FBI could use National Security Letters to facilitate the investigation. The full weight of a fascist corporatocracy is probably an awesome thing to observe and I’m suspecting I’ll live to see it in action.

    I suspect that NSA/FBI incursion into cyber-policing will end up becoming the enforcement arm for corporations and associations like RIAA.

    This kind of action by RIAA is harassment of a selective segment of the public. It’s akin to another article on this blawg- criminalizing not giving someone a seat on a NYC subway. SSDD.

    Ummm, yea, I’m one of those people that’s a step beyond ‘They’re out to get us’ and into ‘They’ve got us alright, they just aren’t done with us yet’.

  2. LottaK,

    I could see a Judge doing a Remittuer. This would reduce the amount that was actually awarded. Lets face it, for most people, a judgment of this size is a hollow corporate victory.

    What are they going to do to collect? My question is who and how were her attorneys paid for? Doing Federal work and appeal work is very expensive for all concerned. Am I missing something here. Suffice it to say, if I only had a brain. But Buddha knows the wizard well.

  3. Josh, The same argument was made regarding copying VHS movies. Back when that technology was new if you wanted to buy a tape you could pay 35.00-89.00 a movie. with most of the m selling for around $69.00. No one bought VHS movies- the mom and pop rental places rented VHS recorders by the week or month and everybody bootlegged their own from the tapes they rented from the same stores. The movie studios were going nuts. Once the price of a tape fell to $19.00-$30.00 and $10.00 (and less) on sale there was a whole lot of buying that went on. You rented to preview a movie and if it was good you added it to your library by purchasing it.

    People that file share IMO fall into two categories, those that are previewing a lesser quality dupe and will buy a commercial product if they like what they see and those that wouldn’t buy the product anyway. Shared files are almost universally compressed and the quality is less that the commercial product. The commercial buyer wants the higher quality product.

    RIAA exists to keep the price artificially high through heavy handed practices like we see in the article. If DVDs were priced at $6.00 right out of the gate people like me and millions of others wouldn’t even wait to preview something on pay-per-view, we’d just gamble if we even though we MIGHT like the movie. I’d buy a new DVD or two, a couple of packs of popcorn singles and a six-pack every time I went to the grocery store.

    File sharing is how consumers fulfill the advice “Let the buyer beware” IMO.

  4. Larry says,”Tell me how its any different from lending a CD to a friend.”

    File sharing isn’t much different than sharing a CD, except in one very big way. Scope of potential loss in sales of the product. If you lend a CD to as many friends as you have and they all copy it, it is still never likely to stop many more people from purchasing the product, save for those close to you and the few others your friends lend their copies to. Since 100s of people you don’t know can download and then share the file themselves when file sharing, the potential for lost sales is exponentially bigger. I do not personally agree with the outcome of this case, nor do I believe it should be illegal to share the files. Nevertheless, file sharing is different than CD sharing in the one way that counts, money.

  5. Way to make friends, RIAA. Thing about it is, they actually have some substance to their argument–intellectual property is valuable. But the approach they take makes me want to steal everything in sight.

  6. Because DMCA re-structured copyright law to make it unbeneficial to the artist and of maximum and permanent benefit to the label. Check out what David Lynch had to say about copyright after EMI destroyed his “Dark Night of the Soul” project. Musicians are not harmed by piracy, but they ARE harmed by DMCA and the RIAA. Read up on this, you can Google thousands of articles. And support http://www.creativecommons.org

  7. Ummm…let me see. I write a song, put it to music, practice many hours, rent studio space, spend a lot of money putting out information and cutting cd’s, then marketing them and working to get a good distribution system… then a mother of four starts stealing my song and selling it herself and taking the money that should be mine. Do I understand why it is ok to steal?

  8. Whenever the RIAA is involved, piracy is the only position of ethicality. The RIAA is an inherently criminal and unethical institution. Three cheers for David Lynch and Dangermouse, three cheers for Lawrence Lessig’s Creative Commons, and three cheers for anyone who would attempt to undermine the major labels and the RIAA whenever and wherever possible.

  9. News flash. The NSA lost all internet connectivity today when it was discovered by the RIAA that an 8 year old repeatedly compromised an NSA mainframe to upload Boxcar Willie to Pirate Bay.

    During the supreme court appeal things got testy when Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia lashed out at the US Attorney General, “this state secrets crap doesn’t trump RIAA and ESA copyrights”, “the NSA is NOT a content provider.” “The RIAA lost 80 million dollars in potential BoxCar Wille sales”, blasted a red faced Scalia. “ISP’s must cancel service to copyright enfringement repeat offenders”, do you not concur with the DMCA, spoke Scalia with a prolapsed final shoulder heave

    “We didn’t do it!”, screamed the NSA lawyer. “We did NOT do it!”

    “Don’t blame us,” interrupted the RIAA first chair “dream team” attorney, “we acted on “a good faith belief.” “There you go, guilty as sin.”

  10. Now what’s the purpose of that? She’ll never pay it, and the amount insures an express trip to the bankruptcy court. Some may say it’s making a point, but those affected likely read neither the newspaper nor this blog. Corporate America prevails–and gains nothing except the ire of its customers. Freindly folks on that jury, by the way.

  11. Larry,

    It’s harder to shut down something on the Internet than you might think. Cyberspace is a construct without physical definition. Servers can be anywhere there is power to run them. Sure, you could go after ISP’s, but you still wouldn’t stop the traffic. P2P darknets are already out there.

  12. What kind of damages are these anyway? Each song can be bought for $0.99, so how do they figure she caused them $1.92M worth of damages? What about the whole Exxon Valdez damages case where the SC decided that more than 10x was too much for punitive damages?

  13. The thing that astonishes me is that if these record companies REALLY wanted this file sharing shit to stop, why dont they SHUT DOWN THE SITES? Shutting down the sites will put an end to it for good—period. It appears that WANT the file sharing to continue so they can go after each individual person. Ive never understood why file sharing is a crime. Tell me how its any different from lending a CD to a friend.

  14. cough cough cough RIAA cough cough cough RICO cough cough criminal abuse of the system cough cough cough corporate welfare cough cough cough cough bullshit number cough cough cough made up money cough cough recording industry did it to themselves cough cough


    I had something stuck in my craw.

  15. Oh well. How much per word. Seems a little excessive to me. Oh my.

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