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Jammie Thomas Hit With $1.5 Million Verdict 764

Posted by timothy
from the tickling-the-dragon's-tail dept.
suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from CNET: "Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Minnesota woman who has been fighting the recording industry over 24 songs she illegally downloaded and shared online four years ago, has lost another round in court as a jury in Minneapolis decided today that she was liable for $1.5 million in copyright infringement damages to Capitol Records, for songs she illegally shared in April 2006. ... The trial is the third for Thomas-Rasset, after one jury found her liable for copyright infringement in 2007 and ordered her to pay $222,000, the judge in the case later ruled that he erred in instructing the jury and called for a retrial. In the second trial, which took place in 2009, a jury found Thomas-Rasset liable for $1.92 million. Thomas-Rasset subsequently asked the federal court for a new trial or a reduction in the amount of damages in July 2009. But earlier this year, the judge found that amount to be 'monstrous and shocking' and reduced the amount to $54,000."
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Jammie Thomas Hit With $1.5 Million Verdict

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  • by Nursie (632944) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:46PM (#34126774)

    $54,000 is still a lot of money, but it's doable, over a good number of years.

    1,5 mil, however, not so much.

  • by d474 (695126) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:50PM (#34126816)
    Look at those dollar amounts. First trial: $220,000 Second: $1.92 million Third: $54,000 Fourth: $1.5 million

    Something about the shear inconsistency of the outcomes tells me how broken this system of courts truly is. It's not based on anything real. It's based on appearances, fuzzy opinions, manipulated interpretations, etc. This woman shared some music over the internet, and they want to financially crucify her. $54,000 thousand would take a lot of people a long time to pay off, let alone $1.5 million. That amount would effectively end her financial life.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:51PM (#34126860)

    The law is bipolar.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:58PM (#34126972)

    Many jurors go into the courtroom with the idea that their purpose is to convict criminals and make them pay, and that anybody who is a defendant must be a criminal. They think the defendants are not like themselves at all. The do not think they are peers.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:59PM (#34126992)

    There is no "jury of your peers" or "presumption of innocence" in a civil trial.

    Except that Jammie Thomas, despite her laughable attempts at defenses and the nerds who keep wanting to believe them, is guilty of the infringement that she was charged with. The awards, though, are somewhat ridiculous. This idiot should have just settled when she was ahead to begin with.

  • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:59PM (#34127000)

    When you are in a hole, stop digging. This applies more to her "lawyers" than to herself though.

    If the hole deeper than you can climb out of no matter what, why not keep digging and bring the asshole who tossed you in there down with you?

  • by zero_out (1705074) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:00PM (#34127014)
    This amounts to nothing more than legalized extortion and racketeering. How can a so-called "jury of her peers" possibly allow such a thing to happen? I can see a stodgy old judge doing something ridiculous like this, but a jury? They are supposed to possess the collected wisdom of several lifetimes, yet they allow this to continue. It boggles the mind.
  • Re:No, Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:00PM (#34127020)

    Dope-smoking MafiAA accountants. The same people who decide that a multiplatinum album grossing over a billion dollars in sales, for which the band was fronted $45k each in a year, studio time perhaps $500k, physical production run costs possibly $200k, and $200,000 in "tour support" can somehow lose money [techdirt.com].

    See also (though I usually hate linking to wikipoo-dia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting [wikipedia.org]

  • by nomad-9 (1423689) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:05PM (#34127110)

    $54,000 is still a lot of money, but it's doable, over a good number of years.

    For a native-American woman mother of four, with a job as a natural resource coordinator in Indian reservation? I might be wrong, but don't think $54,000 is doable either.

  • by immakiku (777365) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:06PM (#34127130)

    The most interesting part, for those of us who read the article, is:

    But earlier this year, the judge found that amount to be "monstrous and shocking" and reduced the amount to $54,000. Following that, the RIAA informed Thomas-Rasset that it would accept $25,000--less than half of the court-reduced award--if she agreed to ask the judge to "vacate" his decision, which means removing his decision from the record. Thomas-Rasset rejected that offer almost immediately.

    RIAA is scared their tactics will no longer work. When faced with more reasonable verdicts, their defendants are probably more likely to fight it out in court, making RIAA's whole business litigation plan useless.

  • by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:06PM (#34127136)

    Copyrights were never really meant to target individual citizens? Says who? I don't see any support for that claim in the Constitutional basis for copyright law; or in the first copyright act; or in any other subsequent copyright act that I've read...

    In fact every copyright act I've read is explicitly not merely a regulation on business, as they specifically assign liability for infringement even if it isn't commercial in nature.

    Perhaps you're mistaking how you'd like to see copyright used as somehow representing what it was "meant" to be used for?

  • by igorthefiend (831721) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:07PM (#34127142)

    Every last one of these acts will have a twitter / facebook / forum etc... at least a couple of them are going to be people who interact with their fans on there in person.

    Do they know that this is being done in their name? We know that songs are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_v._Thomas#The_24_songs [wikipedia.org] so let's start asking them the question...

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:08PM (#34127158)
    Perhaps because the punishment is grossly out of proportion with the crime itself? Seriously, I think people need to take a reality check, and realize that any amount in excess of $100 is entirely unreasonable. What she allegedly did caused less harm to society than a parking violation, and that is how it should be treated.
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:10PM (#34127186)

    Considering the amounts they've been hitting her with, what's she got to lose? All but the $54,000 verdict were so high that she couldn't have possibly ever paid them off. Hiring the lawyers is probably considerably cheaper than actually trying to comply.

  • by mlts (1038732) * on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:10PM (#34127188)

    Copyright/trademark/patent laws were meant to target people making money from other people's IP. For example, if someone makes shoes with a brand trademark and sells them, they are liable for the trademark violation. Or if they are selling for profit burns of Justin Bieber CDs, they are liable for copyright violations. Same with someone using a patent someone else owns for profit.

    None of these laws were used against individuals for nonprofit use, -ever-, in the history of the US. Until the last decade. Businesses, yes. Individuals doing things for for profit? Yes. But that was as far as it went.

  • by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:10PM (#34127192)

    No, they were smart enough to see a chance at free advertising and took it.

  • by rakuen (1230808) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:11PM (#34127206) Homepage
    If this is indeed the endgame, it's not just coming up with absurd decisions. It's also getting the much smaller amounts in the middle. The situation looks even more ridiculous when the jury and the judges come up with polar opposite amounts for damages. A yo-yo of decisions on the same case does not make sense in the record books.
  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <.teamhasnoi. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:12PM (#34127218) Homepage Journal
    that if any of the jurors were 'investigated', you would find quite a bit of infringing material in their homes. I have yet to meet anyone that doesn't have a old cassette of songs dubbed from someone else, a CD of tunes made for a party or wedding, a photocopy of some book or newspaper, lyrics on their website or profile, etc. Even if they don't have these items currently, they've made infringing copies in the past.

    Everyone in the US is guilty of copyright infringement at one time or another. Most people don't ever think about copyright, or if they do, it's to make up the rules as they go.

    I wonder how the jury would react if they were sent invoices for damages for their past and current infringements, based on the ridiculous damages they approved for this woman.
  • by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:13PM (#34127234)

    Copyrights were never really meant to target individual citizens; copyright is a regulation on businesses, and should only be applied to businesses.

    Of which you can provide numerous citations from common law tradition, case law and statutory law to back this up, right?

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rr4r (612664) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:13PM (#34127240)

    She has never been ahead, for her $25k is almost as bad as 2 million. She is hoping for a higher judgment every time.

  • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:15PM (#34127268)
    Which is precisely why we need to redesign the entire copyright system, and rethink all the principles on which it was based. Copyrights were created at a time when only people who possessed specialized industrial equipment could produce copies efficiently; that age ended, and the only thing our elected representatives in congress could think to do about it was to strengthen copyright law.
  • by MichaelKristopeit161 (1934886) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:20PM (#34127370)
    how could any copyright system function that doesn't punish individual citizens equally with corporations when individual citizens possess the potential for near-zero cost duplication and worldwide distribution?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:20PM (#34127374)

    No kidding, the penalty is less if you shoplift the CDs from a music store...

  • Juries (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:21PM (#34127390)

    I can't imagine sitting on a jury and handing out an award like this, even if she is guilty of the charges. It's like people lose all sense of reality in the jury room. I wouldn't know for sure because when I give my occupation as "satellite communications engineer" I'm generally excused by the defense in the next breath.

    However, you listen to the juror interviews after some recent high profile cases with questionable verdicts, and you can see how a lot of them get wrapped up in the pseudo-religious fervor of CIVIC DUTY[TM] and lose themselves in the minutiae of what are in many cases pretty clear situations if you just hold on to your common sense.

    I love the "our hands were tied" excuse. So screw the jury instructions or whatever you imagine is tying your hands. It's *your* baby in that jury room. Give the correct verdict. Maybe it'll get overturned by another court, but at least you did the right thing.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:27PM (#34127492)
    They keep buying the RIAA's line that she's somehow responsible for the tens of thousands of other people who partially or indirectly downloaded the songs from her. There are two ways to look at this:

    100,000 people download a song. Each person is criminally liable for their own download. Fines should thus reflect people trying to be cheap and get a $1 product for free. Something on the order of $2-$20 per song would probably be the right amount.

    100,000 people download a song. One person is determined to be the criminal mastermind and fined for the infringement of all of those people. So a fine on the order of $200k-$2 mil is probably the right amount here. But because you've made one person pay for everyone's infringement, that one fine indemnifies the 100,000 from any charges for the crime.

    What the RIAA is trying to do is get a fine on this woman as if she were the criminal mastermind behind it all, and then apply the same fine to the other 100,000 people. It just doesn't work that way logically. Either each person is responsible for their own actions, or one person is responsible for everyone's actions. It's totally illogical to argue that each person is responsible for everyone's actions.

    As has been pointed out, the real problem here is that the RIAA is taking copyright laws written to be used against commercial copyright infringement, and using them against individuals. Commercial copyright infringement (e.g. mass-producing bootleg CDs) fits the "criminal mastermind" model, and the fines were set up to reflect that. If a bootleg shop got caught, they'd be sued, fined, and the people who bought those bootleg CDs weren't liable for anything. Totally different situation, totally different penalties, which the RIAA is misusing (or abusing if you prefer) against individual infringers.
  • by Talderas (1212466) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:30PM (#34127552)

    Economically speaking, you have profited from the copying.

    Let's say a CD is set at a market value of $12 and you have $50.

    Instead of buying that CD you instead download the songs from that CD.

    You now have $50 cash and $12 worth of music for a total of $62 of value. You are now effectively $12 richer than you were since you have the music and you retained the $12.

    If you bought the CD you would have $12 worth of music and $38 in cash for a total of $50 of value.

  • In fact, if she were sharing files through Kazaa, it is unlikely that more than a hundred uploads ever took place from any one song file.
  • Re:No, Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:33PM (#34127636) Journal

    >>>Dope-smoking MafiAA accountants.

    I still think a bullet to the head of the RIAA CEO would do a world of good. And if he gets replaced, remove him too. And again and again until these idiots stop turning Our citizens into slaves via outrageous 1.5 million dollar/life sentences. Death to tyrants whether they be government leaders (Saddam) or corporate XOs.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot@nOspaM.spad.co.uk> on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:34PM (#34127654) Homepage

    A jury of your peers is really a jury of people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

    See also: Any survey results ever.

  • by tigre (178245) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:40PM (#34127764)

    But the message is crystal clear. You can't legally COPY someones work and especially you can't share it.
    I'm a writer and I want to get paid for copies of what I write. NO ONE has a right to take my work and
    share it with others or copy it without paying. I have every right to expect that what I write IS MINE
    TO SELL or give away - but it's MINE.

    If you never show it to anybody, it is absolutely yours. If you show it, or distribute it, it is no longer yours in an ownership sense. Copyright is an artificial and temporary right which is granted only as incentive for you to share your creations.

    Technically, you don't want to get paid for copies of what you write. You just want to get paid for doing what you like. It just so happens that getting paid for copies of your product is the primary economic mechanism for this compensation in your case. And it is (arguably) worth preserving this mechanism, but not necessarily at the cost of arming abusive corporations so that they can chug along sucking up the lion's share of money derived from OTHER PEOPLE'S creations, while they stifle personal liberty, social and educational commentary, and technological innovation.

    I am not a big fan of illegal file sharing, but the *AA have taken advantage of the situation to push a reprehensible agenda.

  • by Anonymous Cowpat (788193) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:40PM (#34127766) Journal

    oh, I saw that, even with minimum effort, they can dig their heels in and fight a clearly unwinnable case out to 3 trials over 4 years (and counting), all of which will have cost UMG $millions, none of which they'll see.

  • by Sancho (17056) * on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:43PM (#34127828) Homepage

    In my opinion, statuatory awards shouldn't be covered under this anyway. Statuatory awards don't reflect the actual injury at all.

  • Re:No, Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rossjudson (97786) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:44PM (#34127864) Homepage

    The interesting bit here is the "redacted special jury verdict [justia.com]".

    Page down through it, and you'll see that it's a simple set of questions, usually song-by-song. Near the end the jury is asked to set damages for each song. Each entry has $80,000 entered, which is pretty much half-way between the minimum ($750) and the maximum ($150,000).

    Every song has the same damages assigned. Were all the songs downloaded the same number of times? We don't know...there is no evidence that the songs were ever downloaded by anyone else, as far as I can tell.

    Are all these songs equal money-earners for the label? Who knows?

    It's a remarkably lazy bit of life destruction from a senseless and cruel jury.

    This is exactly why a judge revised the verdict, calling it "monstrous". He isn't name-calling the plaintiffs. It's directed squarely at an idiot jury.

  • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:47PM (#34127910) Journal

    Miss Bachmann, like her favorite founding father Thomas Jefferson, considers copyright a bad idea. He said: "If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.

    "That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property."

    He also wrote to James Madison, author of the Constitution:

    "I like the declaration of rights as far as it goes, but I should have been for going further. For instance, the following alterations and additions would have pleased me... Article 9. Monopolies may be allowed to persons for their own productions in literature, and their own inventions in the arts, for a term not exceeding ___ years, but for no longer term, and for no other purpose." Jefferson's preference for the term of copyright was submitted to Madison a few days afterward. The proposed term was that of 19 years, based on the average author's lifespan after publication. Today that length would be 35 years, and nowhere near the current 150 granted to Disney and others non-humans.

  • Re:Um no. (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Moryath (553296) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:50PM (#34127928)

    You're an idiot.

    A judge's ruling that a certain level of "damages" is excessive is very much precedent - whether individually binding, contributory to an overall aggregate of similar decisions, or "persuasive" precedent (essentially similar to Amicus briefs in the way that they can be considered in relation to a current case) - that can affect the damages the MafiAA may be able to extort in future trials.

    Vacating a ruling [wisegeek.com] means that you declare the ruling inapplicable and inadmissible to any future proceeding - in essence, "Null and Void." As such, a vacated ruling cannot be cited as precedent, whether binding or persuasive [wikipedia.org].

    Now please run along, little child. The grownups are trying to have a grown-up discussion of important things. Come back in 18 years or so when you have a firm grounding in the real world and how the legal system works.

  • Seriously... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Sol Rosinberg (586029) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:52PM (#34127962)
    This new verdict is as "monstrous and shocking" as the $1,940,000 verdict was. After reading through many articles on the history of this case, I have to proclaim it a farce. Since when don't you need actual, admissible evidence to prosecute someone? The only evidence they had was from MediaSentry, which, at least according to an appeal that was filed, may violate wiretap laws and state private investigator laws. In fact, there was a court ruling in 2007 which proclaimed that this company was operating without a private investigator's license, rendering their evidence in that case inadmissible. If the RIAA is going to try to prosecute for this type of thing, they should at least use legal means to gather their evidence. The jury is in essence awarding the RIAA for ignoring due process and illegally obtaining information which should not have been admitted in the court case. Since they would no longer have admissible proof of her sharing the files, given that MediaSentry's evidence was illegally obtained, then the RIAA should receive no reward. I'm not saying that what she (Jammie Thomas-Rasset) did was right or wrong, that's not my call, but my observation is that the RIAA has performed its share of misconduct all throughout this trial, yet that's being ignored and they're being rewarded statutory damages for copyright violations that they can't legally prove with legally obtained evidence.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:59PM (#34128054)

    It's much more important for her to force an unpayable multi million dollar judgment. It might actually open people's eyes that corporations have convinced the government to treat copyright infringement harsher than murder and rape.

    A reasonable fine would be on the order of $50 to $100 per song.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:15PM (#34128218)

    If you can't sell the songs for $12, you're not $12 richer.

  • Re:Um no. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by XipX (615675) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:32PM (#34128428)

    Come back in 18 years or so when you have a firm grounding in the real world and how the legal system works.

    The U.S. legal system can be described as many things, but certainly not as having a firm grounding in reality.

  • by gdshaw (1015745) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:34PM (#34128460) Homepage

    The entire point is to make it so painful, the party will not want to do so again.

    I know its not popular here, but reality is far, far different than the pro-pirate crowd constantly attempts to censor and portray here.

    If that's the point then it should be a criminal trial with all of the safeguards that implies (including, in particular, the higher standard of proof).

  • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:50PM (#34128668) Homepage

    Tell me where I can get $12 - or indeed any money - for my pirated MP3s. If you can't relatively easily convert it to real money, then it's not "commercial gain" and speaking as if you had $62 is bullshit. Obviously you are getting some personal benefit from it - people rarely do things to harm themselves - but it doesn't practically have any value to sell. This is exactly what differentiates commercial and non-commercial activity. Actually it's probably even stricter than that, as things that do have a commercial value like a user dose of drugs can be considered to be for personal use, but being unsellable is quite definitive. Oddly enough the US decided to claim swapping one unsellable pirated copy for another unsellable pirated copy to be commercial gain, but in my book 0 + 0 still equals 0 real money.

  • Re:No, Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stdarg (456557) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:52PM (#34128684)

    You've got to hand it to the RIAA lawyers for truly excellent jury selection skills.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by znerk (1162519) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:53PM (#34128700)

    I know someone who said, of being on trial, "I would like to think that if you have made it this far in the system, it's because you are guilty."

    This is a perfect example of the difference between civil and criminal cases. In a criminal case, the suspect is supposedly presumed innocent until proven guilty. In a civil case, the defendant is the one who needs to prove their innocence.
    This is just another symptom, showing how the whole system is broken.

  • by GooberToo (74388) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:14PM (#34128996)

    actually is a

    No, that's not what the studies have shown. They show there MAY be a benefit for some players. Period. And beyond that, there has not been a lot to even validate such studies. Furthermore, those same studies go out of their way to ignore a huge body of centuries worth of knowledge on economics. So to say they are far from vetted and confirmed, is an understatement.

    Realistically, those studies are complete idiocy. The logic works like this. I have money to buy A or B. Before, a consumer would pick A or B. Now, I steal A and buy B. B won. Therefore, since I stole A, B benefited. That's true, but it serves no benefit to society, A lost revenue and was financially harmed. There was no net societal benefit for companies. For pirates, its a win-win. For B, its a win. For A, its a loss. For society, its a loss-loss-win (B's widget).

  • My Senario (Score:2, Insightful)

    by SuperTechnoNerd (964528) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:19PM (#34129054)
    Ok Consider the following:
    While I wasn't home some drunk guy wanders on my property and smashes my bird bath, crushes my garden gnomes, empties my swimming pool, slices my vinyl siding, tears up my petunias, and smashes a window. Now I have this all on video and later he is arrested, so there is no question of his guilt. Then I drag him into court to recover my damages which are only $700. However I file the suit for asking for $1000,000.
    Now this is REAL property with REAL damage..
    Don't you think I would be laughed out of court?

    See my point?
    Whats wrong with this picture?
  • Re:No, Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by StayFrosty (1521445) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:23PM (#34129112)
    Sadly, I'm sure the penalty for murder would be less than the penalty for file sharing.
  • by IICV (652597) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:36PM (#34129316)

    And what exactly is wrong with that? I thought one of the wonders of capitalism was that although some people might have a smaller slice of the pie, the pie itself is always growing. Well, in your example, the pie has just grown by $12. Isn't that something we should be celebrating, not suing over?

  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:40PM (#34129378) Journal

    If they couldn't be there wouldn't be much point to having the bankruptcy code. What do you think happens if your credit card company sues you and wins? They get a civil judgment.....

  • by melikamp (631205) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:43PM (#34129414) Homepage Journal

    Economically speaking, you have profited from the copying.

    No, this is a make-belief. Alice buys the internet connection and pays a few cents for torrenting 4 albums. She then spends a few hours listening to them. This is all pure loss for Alice, in economic terms. Somehow this escaped your analysis.

    Instead, you reason, if the copyright holder sets the price at $10 per album, then Alice's "gross profit" is $40. And if the copyright holder sets the price at $1000000 per album (which is entirely legit and practical the under current law), then, again, in line with what you are saying, Alice's "gross profit" is $4000000. So you are saying that her "profit" is whatever number the copyright holder says it is. This, of course, is just the kind of unadulterated bullshit that has NOTHING to do with economics or profit, as understood by anyone with a working brain.

  • Re:Seriously? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrxak (727974) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:50PM (#34129524)

    While my own experiences are quite similar to yours, studies have shown that people tend to trust law enforcement witnesses more than any other witnesses, believe that defendants wouldn't be in court if they are guilty, and a host of other biases that do unfortunately lead to problems. Ideally, judges are able to instruct juries properly to eliminate those biases, but judges aren't perfect either.

  • by Pentium100 (1240090) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:52PM (#34129546)

    Let's say a CD is set at a market value of $12 and you have $50.

    Instead of buying that CD you instead download the songs from that CD.

    You now have $50 cash and $12 worth of music for a total of $62 of value. You are now effectively $12 richer than you were since you have the music and you retained the $12.

    Can I sell the files and get the $12? If not, then I do not "have $12 worth of music", just like my PC that I paid $2000 for is no longer worth $2000. Worth is determined by how much you can get by selling it and not by how much someone else asks for it (in this case, someone might pay $12 for the retail CD, but would not pay the same $12 for the same songs on a CD-R).

    Also, you do not know if I would have bought the CD for $12 if the songs were not available for download. I could probably have taped the songs off the radio. Or borrowed the CD from a friend and copied it. Or downloaded some other songs.

  • by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:52PM (#34129550) Homepage Journal

    My court date is next month an i am so scared. The thing i stole was only $49.00

    Note that the original poster there should be relieved that their trial won't last very long, at least. After all, they just admitted guilt publicly... But regardless:

    Okay, $50 item, $250 to $500 fine.

    Song is $.99. What should the fine be?

    Doesn't matter. Public discourse not included, they're not on trial for stealing a song. They're on trial for distributing a song - at which point, the number of times it was distributed becomes much more significant than the number of discrete items that were distributed. Its also why, to my knowledge, they haven't gone after anyone who downloads a song - just those who share them.

  • by flowwolf (1824892) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:01PM (#34129678)

    Convinced the government??

    A jury of your peers came up with these amounts. It's the public that has been convinced these cases are harsher than rape. You have to take some citizen responsibility. The government has nothing to do with this. The public's consensus is the driving force behind the RIAA's motor

  • by LordLucless (582312) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:30PM (#34130038)

    The laws (English laws, which helped shape the US laws) were written in a time when personal copying was a non-issue. The only people who could afford printing presses were commercial entities, and running off single copies was likewise not viable. The laws were written with the assumption that the only people who copied material were other publishers, as they were the only ones who could afford to (for everyone else, the cost of copying far outweighed the purchase price of the goods). There was no point in making a distinction in the laws, because no distinction existed in reality.

    The underlying technology changed, and the assumptions the laws were based on shifted. And instead of updating laws to reflect reality, the laws are being used to hold reality to ransom.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @06:03PM (#34130406)

    Difference between being criminally liable and liable.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @06:35PM (#34130758)

    The case was civil law not criminal. The criminal areas of copyright law are in any case almost never used so it's the civil stuff (which applies to all persons natural or otherwise) that matters

    Thjat's a meaningless and arbitrary distinction when claiming that copyright law was meant to target private individuals at least as much as businesses. Just because some laws targeted everybody doesn't make the emphasis on for profit piracy any less.

  • Re:Confused? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Thursday November 04, 2010 @10:58PM (#34132550)

    No, that was the amount after the amount of damages was reduced after the second trial. This is the result of the third trial.

    What I want to know is: is the RIAA stuffing the jury boxes or what? What kind of moron (much less twelve of them) could possibly turn out such a verdict? Don't they have computers? Don't they have Internet connections? Don't they have children? Do they not understand that they are targets just as much as Jammie Thomas? I sincerely hope that one of those fine, upstanding humanoid asses finds themselves on the receiving end of an RIAA "settlement offer." Poetic justice at its finest.

    I just cannot understand how a jury of anyone's peers could think this rational, much less reasonable. I'm more than a little concerned for our future, if this is what our legal system has been reduced to delivering instead of justice. I don't know: maybe her lawyers were just less than competent, but even so this just seems way over the top.

    Furthermore, how can a woman that downloaded a mere 26 music tracks be so demonized in court that such a travesty could result? Are the RIAA's attorneys gifted with Satanic powers? This just boggles the mind. Makes me want to run down to the local Best Buy and pocket a couple of CDs, just to demonstrate what stealing music actually means. "Yes, Your Honor, I stole that music. I didn't infringe anyone's copyright, however." Hell, a shoplifting charge wouldn't hold a candle to this "verdict".

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 05, 2010 @03:41AM (#34133576)

    Before that, it was a civil offense, but still part of copyright law. How typical of a pirate to be dishonest about the law.

"Card readers? We don't need no stinking card readers." -- Peter da Silva (at the National Academy of Sciencies, 1965, in a particularly vivid fantasy)

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