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Music The Courts

8th Circuit Upholds $220,000 Verdict In Jammie Thomas Case 285

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has upheld the initial jury verdict in the case against Jammie Thomas, Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas-Rasset. This case was the first jury trial for a file-sharing suit brought by the major record labels, and focused on copyright infringement for 24 songs. The Court of Appeals has ruled that the award of $220,000, or $9250 per song, was not an unconstitutional violation of Due Process. The Court, in its 18-page decision (PDF), declined to reach the 'making available' issue, for procedural reasons."
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8th Circuit Upholds $220,000 Verdict In Jammie Thomas Case

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  • Good Lord (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Sheldon Cooper ( 2726841 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @01:54PM (#41302653)
    Having people who know nothing about technology make case law about technology is like having a Capuchin monkey fix the brakes on your car: cute and funny at first, but ultimately a bad idea that is also highly dangerous.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @01:57PM (#41302691)

    We will continue to share and the labels will learn their place.

  • by Missing.Matter ( 1845576 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:03PM (#41302797)
    From the Wikipedia article []:

    1st civil jury trial Statutory damages of $222,000 ($9,250/song).
    2nd civil jury trial Statutory damages of $1,920,000 ($80,000/song).
    Remittitur Statutory damages reduced to $54,000 ($2,250/song).
    3rd civil jury trial Statutory damages of $1,500,000 ($62,500/song).
    Damages reduced Statutory damages reduced to $54,000 ($2,250/song).

    Seriously, statutory damages are a joke. The number is completely arbitrary and jumping around, seemingly randomly, from $54k to almost $2m. Isn't this a pretty good sign that things are FUBAR, and "statutory damages" is devoid of all meaning? The $150,000 statutory damages maximum (per infringement) was written into law with a very different context in mind than it's being applied to (industrial scale for-profit copyright infringement). These statutory damages seriously are completely defunct, yet copyright holders are exploiting them to no end. *We* as a society have provided *them* copyright to promote the *useful* arts and sciences. I think it's becoming very clear the art they are producing is no longer useful, but a determent to society. Perhaps *we* as a society should take those rights away, or at the very least severely curb them to avoid this utter nonsense.
  • Piracy = theft? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by OldSport ( 2677879 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:04PM (#41302807)

    Industry shills are constantly trying to convince the public that piracy = theft, but punishments like this make it seem more like piracy = murder. In my home state, anyway, "a person convicted of the offense of retail theft of merchandise having a retail value not in excess of $100.00 shall be punished by a fine of not more than $300.00 or imprisonment for not more than six months, or both." Torrent the same CD, however, and you're out $150,000 ($10,000/song, assuming 15 songs on a CD).

    Note to potential downloaders: just steal the goods you want. You'll get off a lot lighter that way.

  • Due process? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:10PM (#41302897) Journal

    Due process is guaranteed by the 5th and 14th amendments. The problem with this case is excessive fines, prohibited by the 8th amendment. Why wasn't this an issue in this appeal?

  • Re:Good Lord (Score:5, Insightful)

    by man_of_mr_e ( 217855 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:30PM (#41303191)

    This isn't a case of lack of knowledge of the technology. It's a case of the law being absurd, and the judges hands being tied. It's absurd that sharing a couple dozen songs can carry a greater liability than murdering someone (I'm talking civil law here).

    The punishment certainly does not fit the crime, but that law allows these kinds of damages.

    If you don't like it, lobby your lawmakers.

  • Re:Due process? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:35PM (#41303257)

    Applying the Williams standard, we conclude that an award of $9,250 per each of twenty-four works is not âoeso severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable.â

    The award of $9,250 is not really the issue. In fact, that would be an arguably reasonable punishment for the alleged infringement.

    The issue is counting each file as a separate infringement and multiplying $9,250 by 24.

    Using kazaa or whatever it was to infringe and being convicted should be a singular crime, not 24 separate crimes.

    When I ripped my 800+ disc CD collection I ended up with upwards of 9000 tracks. When I installed a filesharing app that by default pointed at my music folder I am apparently on the hook for 9000 separate crimes @ $9250 each?

    Lets see: this court apparently thinks it would be "reasonable" to fine me 83 million dollars for that.

  • Re:yikes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:36PM (#41303273) Homepage Journal

    to those who are itchy to mark me troll - why? i expressed an honestly held conviction in a calm and rational matter, and supported my modest claims. c'mon, i'm just trying to be part of the slashdot community. why give me a hard time?

    probably unpopular to take that tone - someone thinks you are an Apple or RIAA apologist. For my money, I too, buy the junk I listen to or watch. I may always be on the right side of things, but that never stops someone suing me if they feel they oughta and their lawyers are all sitting around the office with nowt to do.

  • Re:yikes! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by FilmedInNoir ( 1392323 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:39PM (#41303337)
    It's not the comments that are the troll, it's you and your green skin. ;)
    But ya, I've warned people off using any sort of sharing/P2P/whatever because it's just not worth it anymore.
    Until there is some major change in policy (and right now it's full steam ahead for fascism) I'm staying away until the
    RIAA/MFAA(whatever) runs out of witches to burn.
  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:40PM (#41303351) Journal

    Part of this, which often escapes /. users is that the law isn't justified by just actual losses, but also also includes punitive recourse as well.

    I'm of the opinion that Punitive damages should be awarded, but those should go to the state, not to the victim. I'm all for actual damages, and perhaps 10% (or Treble damages or some other number) of the Punitive damages going to the victim, but most of the punitive damages should be going to the state, into a victims compensation or something like that. This would prevent the idea of "get rich quick, just sue" mentality that is clogging up the courts now. Courts have become Greed Machines.

  • Re:My take (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cpghost ( 719344 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:07PM (#41303829) Homepage
    So what you're implying is that she has only herself to blame that the "legal" system is biased against the poor and common people, and in favor of the rich and corporations? Should she have taken the abuse of the MAFIAA bully without putting up a fight, or at least trying to defend herself -- no matter how inept and poor her strategy? If that's the case, why bother with laws anymore? Let the powerful reign unhindered and the common people bow and accept their fate and absorb the abuse that comes their way?
  • by PoliTech ( 998983 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:09PM (#41303857) Homepage Journal
    Napster, limewire, bittorrent, ... the next method will once again catch the lawyers and copyright police by surprise and completely off their guard. Then when the new method (whatever it may be) becomes mainstream enough that the lawyers and copyright trolls finally figure it out, the media moguls will pursue trial and conviction of another sacrificial lamb to attempt to staunch the bleeding, and once again it will be much too little and much too late.

    Too bad for the sacrificial lamb, but as has been said before, if we want the laws changed, we need to work to change them. If we want the media companies to change we need to buy enough stock in the media corporations to exert some influence with regards to marketing, and IP.

    Most downloaders however won't bother to expend any time or energy to change the law, or vote on stocks. They'll simply move on to the next media sharing methodology and happily continue on, (as they always have) while the "Mainstream" eventually catches up.

    So the story continues ... Until the media moguls finally figure out that they are stepping over dollars to pick up dimes, there will be one after another file sharing methods, and one after another sacrificial lambs.

  • Re:yikes! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:43PM (#41304349) Homepage

    So, according to you, because I don't toe the slashdot monoculture line, I must be a troll and a shill.

    No. According to me, because of the way you presented your opinion, you are indistinguishable from a shill.

    I believe in the benefits of a lively and spirited debate from people who are steeped in the issues.

    You were not presenting a spirited debate about the merit of a policy, you were attempting to pursuade people to engage in a particular behavior in response to a threat posed by bad policy. In effect you were telling people to be more obedient or face the wrath of the legal system. That is not spirited debate, it is authoritarianism.

    I'm sorry for you that you feel differently.

    Awww, that's pretend nice of you to say. I guess I won't slit my wrists now that I know you care.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:55PM (#41304541)

    Is the judge allowed to tell the jury about jury nullification? If he is, then his/her hands are never tied.

    Historically, jury nullification freed the Klansman and hanged the black man.

    It freed the good old boys and not the outsiders. Three guesses as to whether the geek will be found on the side of the angels. Three juries cheerfully took turns hammering Jamie Thomas and her pro bono attorneys into the marble flooring.

  • Re:yikes! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:20PM (#41304883) Homepage

    If the presence of shills causes us to be so suspicious of each other

    Being suspicious of the existence of shills is the correct response to the existence of shills.

    to never extend benefit of doubt

    Nobody suggested that was the case. I, and I suspect most people here, assume every post is genuine unless it triggers our suspicion. Like this one did.

    to be less tolerant of unpopular speech,

    That's a tricky phrase. If the speech is unpopular because of groupthink, we should not be less tolerant of it. If it is unpopular because it is ill-formed, we should be less tolerant of it. Noise lacking signal should be attenuated in order for substantive dialog to rise to the fore. That is the express purpose of the moderation system.

    above all to use down-mods as a substitute for well-written rebuttals

    Well-written rebuttals are the right response to reasoned discourse by free people. Shill posts are not reasoned discourse by free people, they are for-profit attempts to manipulate public perception and behavior and to affect public policy. Detection of shills is tricky, but attenuating shills is objectively pro-social.

    The best way to combat actual shills is to know in your mind and understand in your heart why they are wrong, because hearts and minds are what they want to capture.

    That is the best way to defend yourself against them, but it is a completely ineffective way to combat them. Things that happen entirely inside your head have no effect on the outside world. If the objective is to achieve inner peace, then your advice is spot-on. If the objective is to prevent shills from distorting our society, then we must combat them.

    That knowing and understanding is the product of informing yourself and does not depend on anything someone else does.

    It is not enough to simply defend yourself. Their intent is to have an effect on public perception, behavior, and policy. While being informed is a sound foundation for engaging them in the court of public opinion successfully, informedness is not -- in itself -- sufficient to protect our society from them. Protecting our society depends rather heavily on things other people do. Preventing shills from having their intended effect on those people is a pro-social pursuit.

    Consider also that if he actually is that much of a corporate whore, his inability to respect himself in any real way is far worse than thousands of down-mods.

    That is only true in the sense of how it affects a shill inside his head. The purpose of shilling is not to affect the shill's mind, it is to manipulate society. Likewise, the purpose of combating shilling is not to make the shill feel bad, it is to protect our economy. If there were a way to defend society against the shill while simultaneously giving him a big warm hug and a pat on the back, I'd do it.

  • Re:Good Lord (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hesaigo999ca ( 786966 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:39PM (#41305113) Homepage Journal

    >If you don't like it, lobby your lawmakers.

  • Re:yikes! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NormalVisual ( 565491 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @05:03PM (#41305439)
    Yes, we all hate the **AA, but remember that nobody held up these artists at gunpoint and forced them to sign

    No, but the government *did* hold the rest of the country at gunpoint and continues to steal (as in "taking from us and making unavailable for our use") what rightfully should have gone into the public domain with the stroke of a pen. That's *my* problem with the way things are.

Happiness is twin floppies.