The Price of Copyright Infringement: $9,250 Per Song

Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas, a federal trial about file-sharing, completed yesterday in Capitol’s favor. Jammie Thomas must pay $222,000 for download 24 songs, or $9,250 per song.

And so it begins.

Farhad “Machinist” Manjoo has some analysis, including this ominous warning: “The worst possible outcome — a fine too high to bear, but likely too low to cause much effort at reforming copyright laws.”

Defendant owes $222,000 for illegal downloading [Machinist.Salon.com]

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11 Responses to The Price of Copyright Infringement: $9,250 Per Song

  1. tohoscope says:

    Has anybody set up a fund to help Jammie Thomas pay for that $222,000 playlist?

  2. pork musket says:

    She’ll just file for chapter 7 bankruptcy and the debt will be wiped, as this was a civil judgment and not criminal.

  3. jenjen says:

    I’m in Denver and this morning’s Rocky Mountain News (thank you Marriott) has a celebratory story about the case in their business section entitled “Verdict music to Denver law firm’s ears” about the local law firm (Home, Roberts & Owen) who represented the RIAA. The story indicates that their “computer security firm” detected the 24 songs in question remotely in a shared folder on Thomas’s hard drive and that “investigators” found over 1700 songs on her computer, which they claim were downloaded but declined to pursue in court. Here’s what I don’t get. Why does the RIAA get to use what are essentially criminal investigation procedures for civil cases. If I think you wronged me in some way and I want to sue you, do I get to inspect your computer? I think not.

  4. Anonymous says:

    How much is it do they charge you per downloaded films? I really need to know.

  5. Anonymous says:

    She has been extensively interviewed and also is a
    Native American who works to rehab. polluted land
    belonging to her tribe.
    She has said publicly that she will not ask for
    any help, but that if it is offered she will not
    refuse it either.
    I for one believe that we all need to pitch in
    and see to it that her ‘fine’ is paid by the
    public who shares music and holds it as important
    to do so.
    I will happily donate some $$$ to a real fund
    which is all for the purpose of paying her fine
    and I bet many others feel the same as I do.
    (I am only posting this anon. because I am too
    lazy to create a log-in…)
    As such I plan to search daily for the appearance
    of a fund to help this victim of strong arm
    tactics.
    These blokes need to find a government figure who
    is doing this stuff and fine them massively – NOT
    some poor single mother from out in the the middle
    of noplace…

    -smallhagrid

  6. Tubman says:

    As I understand it, it wasn’t that she had downloaded the songs (although she may well have done), it’s that they were available to be downloaded from her PC.

    • Joel Johnson says:

      You’re right, Tubman. That’s an important distinction when it comes to the amount of damages calculated, but of course reveals a spectacular misunderstanding by the courts and jury of how P2P works. It is exactly the same bullshit used to trump up drug “distribution” charges to put extra penalties on people.

  7. nex says:

    Yeah … too many people actually believe that there’s something illegal about downloading music, and one major reason is that the media are making excessive use of the phrase “illegal downloads/downloading”, which has no relation to reality. When the evening news do that, it’s an error. For boingboing, it’s quite a fuck-up.

    The linked post, OTOH, at least mentions that KaZaA was used, and the actual article at Ars Technica talks about ‘copyright infringement’ and the existence of a ‘shared folder’, and only mentions ‘downloading’ to say that some record label goon thinks it’s “no joke”.

  8. dculberson says:

    And that was the main reason I quit using Kazaa.. Just too much risk with the open download directory.

    I was sad, though, to shut it down: the d/l share ratio ranking was neat, and we had achieved “SUPREME BEING” status.

    [Oh, and note: I own over 500 original CD's and over 100 original DVD's. I'm a good example of "downloaders buy more."]

  9. pork musket says:

    Damn, they’ve been losing so much recently I thought this was going to be a defeat for the RIAA. I vote with my wallet and don’t support any RIAA member labels or their bands at all.

    There are plenty of great bands out there that would love to have their music downloaded and won’t sue you for it, because they make music for the sake of music rather than for money. It’s too bad more people don’t put in the effort to find independent artists… we’re barely older than 200 years as a country, but almost all of our perceived ‘culture’ on the world stage is corporate-owned and manufactured, except for maybe those Germans that love Native Americans and the old west.

    A good chunk of the American population is still able to recall listening to (and most likely still listens to) music that came out before the record labels were part of the same company that owns a TV station, the local radio station, and movie studios. Where is our culture going to be in another 40 years, in a time when bands don’t rely on their talent but on their parent company’s ability to promote through the sheer force of a media circle-jerk, and the adults grew up being force-fed nothing but manufactured crap from the major labels?

  10. Tubman says:

    The reason I mentioned the uploading thing was because while the RIAA always talk about illegal downloading, to my knowledge the RIAA have never gone after anyone for it.

    In part that’s because it’s hard to prove unless they decide to serve up the files themselves (which they can’t), but also because it’s trivially simple for a defendant to retrospectively acquire CDs for the tracks downloaded and claim fair use (“I don’t know how to make MP3s from my CDs so I just downloaded them instead”), something which the RIAA claims is illegal but almost certainly wouldn’t dare to have tested in court.

    In practice, this means that anyone who downloads from a non-P2P source will never be prosecuted.

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