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RIAA Loses $222K Verdict 342

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the turning-tide dept.
jriding writes "The $222,000 verdict against Jammy Thomas for copyright infringement by P2P is no more. US District Court Judge Michael Davis dismissed the verdict, saying it was based on the faulty 'making available' theory of distribution."
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RIAA Loses $222K Verdict

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  • Re:Good for her (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Evets (629327) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:16AM (#25152827) Homepage Journal

    It'll be interesting to see if the verdict reversal gets the same amount of mainstream media coverage. It's one thing to see this in the tech media. It's another thing when it's in Time, Newsweek, and all the major newspapers.

  • Re:Today is nice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:17AM (#25152845)

    Ugh... 2 words: President Cheney.

  • Charge her $24 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ilovesymbian (1341639) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:22AM (#25152943)

    If she's charged at the market rate of $0.99 per song, she'll owe the music companies $24.00 plus tax.

    Let her pay it and be done over with.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:26AM (#25152981)
    Really if you want to stop the RIAA you need to start posting hate on the companies that support it. Once you start to hurt their brands and people stop buying their products, because of the negative press, and the RIAA will cease to exist. Everyone hates the RIAA, but no one hates those who fund it yet. So hate on these companies SONY WARNER EMI UNIVERSAL ...
  • Re:So What's Next? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:27AM (#25153027)
    Right, still it seems "unsporting", as the British might say, about trying her again. I hope that the RIAA doesn't, but that is probably to much to expect from such an ethically bankrupt organization.
  • by Krinsath (1048838) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:29AM (#25153059)
    Actually, he calls on Congress to review the penalties of the Copyright Act. The Act was intended to penalize "competitor's" who engaged in the infringement where income was earned on the enterprise, not so much a consumer who is actually getting nothing in the process. Hence why the damages seem so excessive, the law wasn't really designed to cope with these circumstances. The infringing party makes no money on the enterprise and are usually private individuals...applying a "business" penalty to an individual is why they seem so grossly out of proportion.

    That said, the fact that the law wasn't designed with the situation in mind does not mean they can ignore it since there's no other law on the topic. So if she's found guilty again she will likely face the same "penalty" scheme that she had previously. Hence why he asks Congress to amend the law and is simply characterizing the judgment, not throwing it out. There's nothing truly unconstitutional about the law, it's just not being used against the targets that the writers had in mind when the law was written.
  • by O('_')O_Bush (1162487) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:32AM (#25153109)
    "Once you start to hurt their brands and people stop buying their products, because of the negative press, and the RIAA will cease to exist."

    No, historically they have just used the loss of profit in their figures for pirated musics.

    "We've had x loss this quarter! There is no explanation other than that people must be pirating music and causing us financial harm! Nevermind the shit music we produce and the media attention from the lawsuit we just filed against a dead person..."
  • Re:Today is nice (Score:1, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:35AM (#25153151) Journal
    What would be the point of impeaching Bush now? You should have done it a couple of years ago... like back when he called the constitution just a piece of paper.
  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:39AM (#25153201) Homepage

    That said, the fact that the law wasn't designed with the situation in mind does not mean they can ignore it since there's no other law on the topic.

    If it's a jury trial, they certainly can ignore the law if they choose [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:Today is nice (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tmosley (996283) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:44AM (#25153273)
    Impeaching him now would cause a close examination of all of his unconstitutional policies, and get a lot of them thrown out, or at least dragged out into the light so future presidents won't be able to use them.

    Also, there's this little thing called 'accountability' that a certain current United States President likes to harp on a lot of the time (when it supports what he wants).

    Honestly, I think that a pretty large proportion of our presidents should have left office at the end of a hangman's noose, and none that I can think of deserve that end more so than Bush Jr.
  • by blueg3 (192743) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:51AM (#25153387)

    It is (sometimes) entrapment if the police do it. It's not entrapment if people who are not the police nor working on behalf of the police do it.

  • by TheLinuxSRC (683475) * <slashdot@pagewa[ ]com ['sh.' in gap]> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:53AM (#25153413) Homepage
    That depends on your point of view. Did Jammie Thomas make the illegal copy? Or did she just provide someone else (the downloader) the means to make a copy. If she did not make a copy she has (technically) not infringed on anyone's copyright. I know, I know; semantics, but that is up to the court to decide.
  • Re:Good for her (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dimeglio (456244) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @11:55AM (#25153431)

    I suppose it will appear in those media which are not members of the RIAA or owned by members of the RIAA. Maybe some Canadian press will cover the reversal.

  • Re:Good for her (Score:5, Insightful)

    by orclevegam (940336) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:03PM (#25153553) Journal
    Sure pirates are crooks. Most of them probably cost the distribution companies (not the creators) a couple hundred dollars a year. The worst of them might cost them a thousand or two. The RIAA on the other hand are crooks of a different sort, and they cost people and the government (and by extension everyone) hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. So, I ask you, who's the bigger criminal here, the pirates that all told cost the media companies maybe a hundred thousand dollars, or the media companies that cost everyone hundreds of thousands of dollars, and ruin the lives of people seemingly at random whether they're guilty of piracy or not?

    Our copyright and patent system is broken. It's been abused, and stretched to the point of breaking by greedy big media trying to prop up flagging business models rather than innovate and change with progress. We need to reform our copyright and patent systems, destroy the media conglomerates, and then worry about trying to curb piracy. I have a feeling however that they'll find once copyright has been reduced back to what it was originally intended, and media companies are once again innovating instead of trying to enforce, that piracy won't be much of a problem at all.
  • Timing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by wfstanle (1188751) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:06PM (#25153597)

    I too would like a lot of media attention but let's be realistic. With all that is happening now, they will bury news of it to where you will be forced to hunt for it. It's important news, but it will not get much public attention. In this respect, the RIAA is lucky because the timing is good for them. They may have lost a battle but the war will still continue.

  • Re:Charge her $24 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spy der Mann (805235) <spydermann.slash ... m ['ail' in gap]> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:10PM (#25153653) Homepage Journal

    You have forgotten the punitive damages for violating the rights of the copyright holders.

    Fine, make it $240 :)

  • Re:FUCK artists (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SpiderClan (1195655) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:10PM (#25153665) Journal

    1. Paying major media companies != Paying artists
    2. Going after individual infringers != Throwing out lawsuits at random in the hope of settlements and the occasional success

  • Re:So What's Next? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rolgar (556636) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:26PM (#25153923)

    But you can't blame the RIAA for the judge's mistake. Since they can't bring back the original jury, legally, this is like the original case never happened. I hope RIAA will be on the hook for the defendant's lawyer fees for both trials if they lose this case.

  • by tygt (792974) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:32PM (#25154021)
    Key point: distribution.

    In order to distribute, one must send the file, as opposed to (according to most of us, and apparently this judge) merely make it available for fetching.

    I'd imagine that if MediaSentry got the file from her, they fetched it (via the file being made available by P2P).

  • Re:Good for her (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:46PM (#25154233) Homepage

    As the judge who wrote the original decision put it...

              What they did is wrong but the punishment should fit the crime.

  • Re:Good for her (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PapaSmurphy (249954) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @12:59PM (#25154435)

    You've got to be kidding. Your math is pretty bad here.

    First, you say most pirates cost the distribution companies a couple hundred dollars a year (let's pick $200). I'll even ignore the "worst" offenders.

    Then you say that all the pirates put together cost the media companies maybe a hundred thousand dollars. Here's the problem. My math says:

    ~350 million Americans. About 200 million adults. Let's say half are online, so 100 million online users. Let's significantly underestimate the percentage of pirates at 1%. So that's 1 million pirates. At $200 a year, that's $200,000,000 a year.

    So, who is the bigger criminal you ask? The pirates that all told cost the media companies at least 200 million dollars, or the media companies that cost everyone hundreds of thousands of dollars?

    See, use math and these arguments are much less "obvious" than you make out.

    P.S. I am NOT a fan of the RIAA, and would like to see them lose these court cases, but making them out to be bigger crooks than those who steal from the companies they represent is not reasonable. I will agree that the RIAA is organized crime, however, and therefore should be subject to racketeering laws.

  • Re:Good for her (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 25, 2008 @01:21PM (#25154751)

    You cannot attribute any financial loss at all to the pirates. It's simply a theoretical loss.

    If all pirates would never buy a single thing they pirated, and I realize this is an assumption, their net cost to the content distributors would be $0.

    For more information, see this helpful drawing:

    http://i28.tinypic.com/2m7xd85.jpg

  • Re:So What's Next? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Pervaricator General (1364535) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @01:24PM (#25154803)
    This is not EXACTLY like a new trial. The judge significantly shifted the burden of proof from a very light thing (a screen shot of available files) to proof that the files were actually distributed.
  • Re:Good for her (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @01:25PM (#25154815) Journal

    Our copyright and patent system is broken. It's been abused, and stretched to the point of breaking by greedy big media trying to prop up flagging business models rather than innovate and change with progress.

    And yet anyone, absolutely anyone, is completely free to sell their work under any system they like. If it's a flagging business model then there's nothing stopping people from using a different one. But you appear to be advocating eliminating one particular business model so that a different one has to be used. Therefore answer this question: In what way does reducing the number of possible business models people can choose from increase our options?

    Where is your evidence that reducing copyright will reduce piracy? I require some evidence for your point of view because the reasoning seems at fault: That piracy wont be much of a problem when costs are reduced. Isn't it just as plausible that people who think nothing of taking a £10 album without paying will consider it even less of a crime to take a £5 album without paying? Where is your evidence that your belief is founded?

    The people I know that pirate music or movies do so as a means of avoiding buying them.

  • Re:Good for her (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spearway (169040) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @01:28PM (#25154865) Homepage

    I am really tired of this kind of math. The premise is bogus, copyright infringement does not cost anyone anything. It is a loss of potential gain. In order to estimate the damage from piracy to the economy you need to estimate the amount of lost sales. This is difficult to estimate and most likely one or two order of magnitude smaller than the headline figure announced by the industry. It is not even proven that this "lost sale" exist as it has been proven that the most prolific downloader also buy more "legal" music than others. It may very well be that there is no lost sales but an increase.

    Declining revenue in the recording industry is an entirely different matter and no one has proven the cause and effect.

  • Re:Good for her (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabre ... org minus distro> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @01:39PM (#25155015) Homepage

    Business models that are artificially enforced by the laws of the land are not business models. They're fascism. You're entitled to any business model you want... you should NOT be entitled to use taxpayer money and deprivation of citizens rights to build a business model.

  • Re:Good for her (Score:5, Insightful)

    by shock1970 (1216162) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @01:45PM (#25155113)

    Many people pirate, that's true. And it does cause the recording companies to loose out on potential revenue.

    What's fucked up though is that a pirate who illegally downloads 10 songs has created a potential revenue loss of about $15 bucks to the record companies. But the record companies want to sue that individual for $15,000. The punishment does not fit the crime.

  • Re:Good for her (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gr8Apes (679165) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @01:45PM (#25155137)

    Your math is terrible. First, you assume that there are 1 million pirates, and that every "pirate" (Arrrr) would be a paying customer if they weren't "pirating" (what about those that borrow CDs and DVDs? Oh noes, the horror!!!)

    With math matching yours for accuracy, I deduce a real loss of around $1 due to this "piracy".

    Now, the real pirates, on the other hand, are those manufacturing illegal copies of the items in question and selling them to others, resulting in real lost sales, as someone paid X for the illegal product. Even here the assumption that they lost whatever their stated price is ludicrous, as they only lost whatever the illegal content's sale price, as there is no correlation whatsoever that the buyer would have paid more (with the assumption that the sold item sold for less than the asking price - not always the case - see sales of imported anime or HD DVDs....)

  • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @02:04PM (#25155419)

    You may recall the 8th amendment, which states "Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." The part we are interested here in is the "nor excessive fine imposed." It would seem to many that the extremely high statutory fines in copyright infringement cases are indeed excessive. They are vastly out of proportion with the harm caused by the crime. When you are, literally, facing fines higher for copying a song than you would for shoplifting a CD with the same song on it, many reasonable people would call that excessive.

    Then there's also the whole copyright law itself. The government doesn't automatically have the right to grant copyrights, it is given to them by the Constitution in Article I Section 8. It says "To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;"

    Ok great, they have the right to grant copyrights... However it isn't unlimited. The reason they can do isn't just because they feel like it, the reason is to promote the arts and sciences. So if the law doesn't serve that purpose, it could well be unconstitutional. Likewise it isn't a forever kind of thing. It specifically says "for limited times". Idea is that stuff falls in to the public domain after a time.

    Well one could argue that the current "Life + 50 years" statute fails at both of those. It isn't used to promote the arts, nor is it a limited time, it is used to grant near perpetual copyright to companies so they can stifle new creations.

  • Re:Good for her (Score:3, Insightful)

    by number11 (129686) on Thursday September 25, 2008 @03:14PM (#25156515)

    You're 100% correct that Jammie downloaded relatively few songs -- but that's not the issue. When she downloaded them, they were placed into her share directory (possibly without her knowledge) where they were available to others.

    And as the judge has now ruled, making them available does not infringe on the copyright. If someone downloads them without authorization from the copyright holder, that would be an infringement.

    Now, if the copyright holder tells me to go out and download some files to serve as a basis for lawsuits, I'd interpret that as authorization (and thus not an infringement). Catch-22.

  • Re:Good for her (Score:2, Insightful)

    by socz (1057222) <.gro.dsbottehg. .ta. .setarcos.> on Thursday September 25, 2008 @06:26PM (#25159285) Homepage Journal
    I spent a little over $2k in cd's that have broken, been scratched, lent out and never returned and a few that just broke (because of guitar playing at loud volume).

    Since my experience with spending so much on something i have to buy more than once (my notorious BIG double tape (life after death) that was wiped out due to a friend placing next to large car speaker magnets - replaced with cds) i refuse to pay any more, most of the time.

    They can not possibly gain ANYTHING from people like me, for the most part. I support real musicians, not pop bands anyways. I can't really remember the last album I bought but i'll tell you i support bands like Pantera, Kanye and N.E.R.D. CD's, shirts, stickers, concerts etc, i'm helping them get at least a little bit of my money.

    So because of my experiences, me downloading the music instead of buying it isn't hurting them, because they wouldn't get another dime out of me anyways. I'm also not the only one. I know many others like me who are tired of getting burned. And for those of you who never paid more than $25 for a cd, you just can't relate because back then $25 was not affordable and it was a lot of money! Gas was less than $.99 cents a gallon&@!(*&#(@!

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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