The heinous act of sharing Gloria Estefan tracks
Record labels are sure to applaud the jury that dished out a $222,000 fine to Minnesota woman Jammie Thomas for copyright infringements as a result of making music available to share on the Kazaa online network. Thomas received the fine …
Record labels are sure to applaud the jury that dished out a $222,000 fine to Minnesota woman Jammie Thomas for copyright infringements as a result of making music available to share on the Kazaa online network.
Thomas received the fine for making available 24 songs by the likes of Journey, Linkin Park, Goo Goo Dolls, Bryan Adams, Aerosmith, Gloria Estefan, No Doubt and others.
While record business trade group the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) have taken legal actions against some 30,000 people in the last four years, this was the first case to end up before a judge and jury.
The fine worked out at $9,250 per song and, according to one jury member interviewed by Wired magazine’s Threat Level blog, the jury spent the bulk of their five hours’ deliberation discussing the size of the fine. Two jurors sought to fine Thomas $150,000 per track, while one argued for a $750-a-track penalty.
“We wanted to send a message that you don’t do this, that you have been warned,” said juror Michael Hegg. “She should have settled out of court for a few thousand dollars.”
Of course, that’s what the RIAA would like to see happen as a result of the Thomas case. They hope that the size of the fine and the amount of publicity the case attracted means many of those being sued by them will settle, rather than risk a huge fine in court.
The RIAA will also be hoping that the successful outcome to the case will provide enough justification to their members to allow them continue their controversial, unpopular and expensive legal actions against file-sharers.
Yet the RIAA victory and subsequent spinning seems a little hollow when you consider that they were initially seeking $3.9 million damages plus fees from Thomas when the case commenced.
There is also the fact that the continued legal actions have failed to disrupt illegal file-sharing. Evidence produced in court showed than more than 2 million people were sharing hundreds of millions of songs on Kazaa on the night the RIAA investigated Thomas in February 2005.
Maybe the time, money and effort exerted in waging these legal battles could be better spent by RIAA members in trying to find new business models for their beleaguered companies.