Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Special Master Appointed In Jammie Thomas Case

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the judicial-patience-waning dept.

The Courts 147

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "There has been another odd development in the Jammie Thomas-Rassett case. You may recall that after the judge reduced the RIAA's verdict from $1.92 million to $54,000 on the grounds that $54,000 was the maximum amount a jury could reasonably award, the RIAA opted for a third trial instead of allowing judgment to be entered. Its reasoning in making that call has never been clear, since there seemed little point in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a trial which could produce no more than a judgment for $54,000 or less. Apparently the court thinks taxpayers' money could be better spent, and has appointed a 'Special Master' to bring about 'meaningful settlement discussions,' with the Master's $400-per-hour fee to be paid by the RIAA. One commentator suggests the RIAA should at this juncture just say, 'Thanks Jammie, we've had all we can get out of you and caused you enough grief — pay us $1 and we'll forget about it.' Actually doing that would be a lot less costly and more reasonable that what they appear to have in mind."

cancel ×

147 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Reason (5, Insightful)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646582)

'Thanks Jammie, we've had all we can get out of you and caused you enough grief — pay us $1 and we'll forget about it.' Actually doing that would be a lot less costly and more reasonable that what they appear to have in mind."

Reason, and reasonableness, has never been a part of their campaign from the beginning.

Re:Reason (3, Funny)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646658)

If RIAAlliance wanted to show me reason they shouldn't have sent an assasshole lawyer.

Re:Reason (2, Funny)

WrongSizeGlass (838941) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646884)

If RIAAlliance wanted to show me reason they shouldn't have sent an assasshole lawyer.

I think those are called proctlawyergists.

Re:Reason (0, Troll)

davester666 (731373) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649808)

Well, SOMEBODY has got to pay the $2.3 trillion dollars that filesharers have skipped paying for their music... Why not her?

Re:Reason (2, Funny)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646980)

Is that like twice the asshole of a regular asshole lawyer?

Re:Reason (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647162)

Is that like twice the asshole of a regular asshole lawyer?

It's an asshole lawyer who is about to get ripped a new one by "The Master"

Re:Reason (4, Funny)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647236)

Actually, since there is no addition operator, rules of operation dictate that a multiplication operator be assumed.

In other words, it's an ass^2hole. I'm not sure why the hole was not squared as well, perhaps these guys are not any bigger assholes than ordinary asshole lawyers, but are significantly bigger asses than ordinary asshole lawyers?

I don't know, douchebag mathematics stretch my reasoning abilities to the limit. I'm not even sure that what I just said is douchebagically possible.

Re:Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32647642)

it's the ass of the asshole :)

Re:Reason (1)

steelfood (895457) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649188)

Well, I can't say for when the ass is squared, but if the asshole is squared, the only think you can imply is that a round peg won't go in it.

Re:Reason (1)

Psaakyrn (838406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648504)

I think you need an assassin for that..

Re:Reason (1)

AI0867 (868277) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646794)

Of course, none of the articles actually mentioned reasonableness either, that's the work of the submitter.
The summary also links to an article that is just one sentence long and contains no new information.

Re:Reason (2, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646832)

But it has SIX links! Most readers don't even RTFA, no less RT6FAs. If you put them all together, I think you get a couple of paragraphs. Actually, I'm guessing, I didn't RTFA either.

Re:Reason (4, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646950)

Reason, and reasonableness, has never been a part of their campaign from the beginning.

That is because, as I'm sure you figured out, this is a jihad or religious war to them, and they must win at all cost. They're trying to bend AN ENTIRE WORLD to their will and way of thinking, and they can't afford to lose such a pivotal early skirmish. To them the Jammie Thomas case must appear to be the Battle of Gettysburg, they being the Confederates, and they're trying to achieve a less disastrous outcome for themselves.

Re:Reason (0, Flamebait)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647432)

That is because, as I'm sure you figured out, this is a jihad or religious war to them, and they must win at all cost.

I'm no fan of the RIAA either, but can we keep this "it's a jihad!" bullshit out of this?

Re:Reason (2, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647530)

Just because the word is overused in other contexts doesn't make the analogy any less appropriate here, so... no, we can't. I didn't simply spit the word out there by itself. A jihad is rooted in ideology, just as was the Civil War and is the RIAA's campaign.

Re:Reason (0, Flamebait)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647620)

Just because the word is overused in other contexts...

That's not why. It's because you sound like those people who call the people who oppose their view 'terrorists'. I know it's satisfying to have that word 'Insightful' next to your post, but that's the debate style you're supporting.

Re:Reason (2, Interesting)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648192)

Others seem to think you're the terrorist, since you've been modded as Troll not once but twice. It's also worth noting that "jihad" != "terrorism", except in the mind of a poorly educated and/or un-insightful person. To such a person I might have indeed sounded "like those people", but apparently not to visitors here. I think you underestimate your fellow Slashdotters, which is possibly why you were modded as Troll; nobody likes being judged as ignorant, and much less so when it's not true.

Re:Reason (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32648326)

Others seem to think you're the terrorist, since you've been modded as Troll not once but twice.

Doesn't change the fact that he's right.

Re:Reason (2, Insightful)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648358)

Doesn't change the facts IF he's right.

There, fixed that for you.

Re:Reason (2, Interesting)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648340)

It's also worth noting that "jihad" != "terrorism", except in the mind of a poorly educated and/or un-insightful person.

I just want to be clear that I never intended to say you're using the word incorrectly. It's the style of its use I have issue with. It reminds me of people shouting 'terrorist' whenever a certain presidential candidate was mentioned. Frankly, that was not that long ago.

To such a person I might have indeed sounded "like those people", but apparently not to visitors here.

I think they accept it because they really don't like the RIAA. I'm not perfect. I'd love to pretend I'd practice what I preach 100% of the time, but I wouldn't have brought it up if you were describing Sony's attempts to thwart home-brew on the PSP.

I think you underestimate your fellow Slashdotters, which is possibly why you were modded as Troll; nobody likes being judged as ignorant, and much less so when it's not true.

I will be up front and tell you that I definitely do not think as highly of them as you do. That may ruffle a few feathers, but least I am not trying to BS my way out of claiming otherwise. However, I do not believe the troll mod was because I was saying anybody was ignorant. I think the Troll mod was because I was sucking the fun out of attaching a term to the RIAA that would turn public opinion against them. I do not believe that's the method to use to fight back against these guys. To me it's in the same spirit as "Godwin's Law" and it does not lose its strength just because the RIAA are a bunch of life-ruining jerks. It's hard, especially in recent years, to take a point seriously when you paint those who oppose you as a caricature of themselves.

This extreme-label approach only works in the short term. Once enough people start parroting it, other people get annoyed with hearing the same phrase over and over again and take a stand against it. This is how fanboys are created.

Re:Reason (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648410)

You're still here? I repeat:

A jihad is rooted in ideology, just as was the Civil War and is the RIAA's campaign.

I did not misuse or overuse the word, AND I explained my usage. You overreacted to its appearance, in trademark political-correctness style. Do you also shirk away from describing yourself as an "atheist" (assuming you are) because you fear the stigma attached to that word, even though the word is accurate? Good grief. Grow a pair of literary cojones, will ya?

Re:Reason (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648652)

Me: I just want to be clear that I never intended to say you're using the word incorrectly.
You: I did not misuse or overuse the word..

Heh. You replied before reading my post. Notti Notti.

Good grief. Grow a pair of literary cojones, will ya?

Literary? Really??

Do you also shirk away from describing yourself as an "atheist" (assuming you are) because you fear the stigma attached to that word, even though the word is accurate?

Are you unable to make your point without using a propoganda'esque tone?

Re:Reason (2, Insightful)

NanoGator (522640) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648110)

I'm no fan of the RIAA either, but can we keep this "it's a jihad!" bullshit out of this? (Score:1, Troll)

Asking to show a little class is not trolling.

Re:Reason (1)

dave87656 (1179347) | more than 4 years ago | (#32650450)

I'm no fan of the RIAA either, but can we keep this "it's a jihad!" bullshit out of this?

Actually, I think the poster is pretty reasonable in his use of that word. I couldn't think of a better application of the word.

Re:Reason (1)

earthforce_1 (454968) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647592)

> To them the Jammie Thomas case must appear to be the Battle of Gettysburg

And this is Pickett's charge?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickett's_Charge [wikipedia.org]

Re:Reason (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647682)

Yes. Jammie Thomas is (we hope) the Pickett fence that stops the RIAA.

Re:Reason (2, Insightful)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648954)

That is because, as I'm sure you figured out, this is a jihad or religious war to them, and they must win at all cost. They're trying to bend AN ENTIRE WORLD to their will and way of thinking, and they can't afford to lose such a pivotal early skirmish.

I'm no lawyer, but it seems to me that their main motivation in going straight to a third trial is nothing to do with this payout, and everything to do with avoiding a precedent. If they 'won' this case with a payout of $54k, substantially less than the cost of the trial, they've basically destroyed the financial justification for all similar such copyright infringement trials. They're not just fighting for this one guy's money, they're fighting this lawsuit for the collective payouts of all future trials where the defendant could pay more than $54,000. With that in mind, it's perfectly reasonable for them to spend half a million dollars on a retrial.

Re:Reason (1)

Svartalf (2997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649568)

Only if you're a law firm trying to rack up billable hours.

Shareholders would think otherwise and if they pursue this, it'll cause pain elsewhere as they pour a lot more good money after the
other good money that they poured into that black pit they've made with the first bad money spent STARTING this idiot litigation
scheme of theirs.

"Suing our customers, hey, that'll work, right?"

It's much simpler than that (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#32650256)

This is being run by lawyers who get paid by the hour, ergo. nobody's dropping anything, ever.

It goes on *forever*.

Re:Reason (1)

interval1066 (668936) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646968)

"Reason, and reasonableness, has never been a part of their campaign from the beginning."

I wouldn't expect any more from a gang of street thugs in business suits.

Exactly (4, Insightful)

Weaselmancer (533834) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649176)

I believe this is one of the rare moments where NYCL has missed the point. In fact, the only one I've ever seen now that I think about it..

This isn't about money. Here, read this bit again:

One commentator suggests the RIAA should at this juncture just say, 'Thanks Jammie, we've had all we can get out of you and caused you enough grief -- pay us $1 and we'll forget about it.' Actually doing that would be a lot less costly and more reasonable that what they appear to have in mind.

It's right there if you read it a second time. "...more reasonable that what they appear to have in mind."

They are not out to be reasonable. What they wish to do is to rob this poor woman not of her money but of her time, her life. One minute at a time, whatever the cost. They don't want to bankrupt her. They don't want $54,000. They want to make an example out of her. Doesn't matter if they have to spend hundreds of thousands to drag this thing out. The money isn't the point. The entire music industry is balanced on the head of a pin and these people are just that terrified that the gravy train is coming to an end. It is fear and wild reaction on a level that is hard to understand. That's why the response seems unreasonable. Because it is. On purpose. The modern day legal equivalent of these guys. [wikipedia.org]

It has taken me 40 years on this planet to eventually figure out the fact that some people simply do not think in a reasonable fashion. It's hard when you base your life on rationality to think in an irrational manner. You see someone doing something you cannot understand and you apply your own yardsticks to it. And fail, because nothing you can come up with fits.

These people have different motives than I could ever have - it is alien thinking. But once you know that people differ wildly from each other, you know that some people will simply be unfathomable. This is one of those times.

Sets Precendent, Right? (1)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646630)

'Thanks Jammie, we've had all we can get out of you and caused you enough grief — pay us $1 and we'll forget about it.'

I'm not a lawyer but I would bet they would prefer to spend $2 million to get a $1 million settlement on the grounds that all future cases could be directed at the Jammie Thomas trial for precedent on how much should be awarded without all the hassle of a Special Master. Or am I missing something in that strategy?

A $1 settlement?! Hell, I'd start file sharing right now and keep that war chest of $1 in change on my desk close at hand.

Settlements are not precedent (5, Informative)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646710)

For a case to set precedent, it has to be decided by a court that has jurisdiction over the matter. Settlements don't count. Now while they can be used informally, a thing of "This person settled with us, you should too," they have no weight in trial.

The reason is because you can sue anyone over anything and that can settle out of court, no matter how stupid. For example suppose you sue me for being ugly. You really could file a lawsuit for that, stupid though it may be. If it went to trial, it'd get thrown out in preliminaries. However, suppose I choose to settle with you for whatever reason. That's my right. I give you $5 to drop the suit. Done and done.

If that was precedent, you could then try to use it to file successful suits against other people, despite the fact it is clearly a stupid, frivolous, lawsuit.

As such the court would give it no weight at all. You file another ugly suit and say "But this guy settled with me over it!" They'll say "Don't care, case dismissed, plaintiff ordered to pay court costs."

Re:Settlements are not precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32646814)

The Special Master is court appointed though ... if that decides the settlement, isn't that precedent?

Re:Settlements are not precedent (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649616)

IANAL, but I wouldn't think so, this appointment would be more for the sake of judicial economy. The matter has been decided by the courts, the damages were reviewed by the courts and lowered, and still the sides (mostly the RIAA) disagree.

The options for the court are this, or another trial (which would bog down the docket for who knows how much longer, then appeal(s)...the cycle would continue). This allows the court's judgment to remain intact, and (ideally) allow the litigants to walk away happy--which will likely not be the case here--and the decision that matters for precedent is the $54,000 reduced award that was entered by the judge.

Re:Settlements are not precedent (1)

6ULDV8 (226100) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647004)

"For example suppose you sue me for being ugly. You really could file a lawsuit for that, stupid though it may be. If it went to trial, it'd get thrown out in preliminaries."

Unless you're ugly. Then you should settle.

Re:Settlements are not precedent (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647244)

Nah, being ugly isn't a crime, so it gets dismissed every time.

It doesn't matter if it's true or not.

Re:Settlements are not precedent (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647458)

But then there is the counter-suit for Libel and Slander.

Re:Settlements are not precedent (1)

Thoggins (1162149) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647750)

Whooosh!

Re:Settlements are not precedent (1)

zippthorne (748122) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647716)

Ugly people settle all the time....

Re:Settlements are not precedent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32647464)

For a case to set precedent, it has to be decided by a court that has jurisdiction over the matter.

Normally when people say precident [wikipedia.org] they are talking about a binding precedent. Your talking about a persuasive precedent, which might not be persuasive at all.

Re:Settlements are not precedent (1)

proverbialcow (177020) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649632)

At the preliminary hearing:

"Mr. Sycraft-fu, I'm going to allow this case to proceed. Prima facie, this case appears to have some merit."

Re:Sets Precendent, Right? (5, Informative)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647046)

I'm not a lawyer but I would bet they would prefer to spend $2 million to get a $1 million settlement

The judge has already ruled that the maximum they can get is $54,000. So the range of possible verdicts at the 3rd trial would be from 0 to $54,000.

Maybe it's not Ms Thomas that needs protection (1)

tebee (1280900) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647248)

This is just a wild thought, but could the court have done this to protect the RIAA from their own lawyers?

Re:Sets Precendent, Right? (1)

ThunderThor53 (836847) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649310)

If this is the case, why would they want a third trial? Seems it would only serve to further reduce the judgement, if anything, and certainly incur more costs.

Re:Sets Precendent, Right? (1)

Aeternitas827 (1256210) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649630)

The judge has already ruled that the maximum they can get is $54,000. So the range of possible verdicts at the 3rd trial would be from 0 to $54,000.

But isn't that decision itself one that could be taken up on appeal should a 3rd trial reach verdict, and the judge in that case uses the prior as precedent? Granted, that would lead to quite another debacle altogether, and I shudder at the thought of it.

Not about $ (5, Insightful)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646652)

They would rather have a ridiculous sum in judgement than to seek the reasonable. A reasonable verdict is what they want to avoid because if we start seeing reasonable verdicts, the headlines go away, and the lawyers' gravy train ends.

Re:Not about $ (1)

fewnorms (630720) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646730)

Don't forget that having a ridiculously high sum in judgement would most likely act more as a deterrent to current and potential 'pirates' than a reasonable one would. Or so they think. Or not. Heavens knows what these guys are thinking.

Re:Not about $ (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647786)

A rediculously high judgement is something that most people can't even relate to. It's too large for them to understand and far too large for them to ever be able to pay off. It equals BANKRUPT either way. Once you start adding extra zeros past the point where the defendant would be forced into bankruptcy, the judgement is meaningless.

Absurd judgements against normal working class individuals have NO DETERRENT VALUE.

Something more consistent with shoplifting would be much more effective. It would be unpleasant for the defendant and something that everyone else could relate to.

Re:Not about $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32646764)

Record some songs yourself, and use them to pay the fine.

Re:Not about $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32647522)

"Its not about the money... its about sending a message. Everyone Burns." --RIAA Joker

Re:Not about $ (2, Interesting)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648842)

They would rather have a ridiculous sum in judgement than to seek the reasonable. A reasonable verdict is what they want to avoid because if we start seeing reasonable verdicts, the headlines go away, and the lawyers' gravy train ends

They repeatedly offered to settle for a reasonable amount. She repeatedly refused.

She is an idiot. After she got caught, she lied on the stand, she tried to frame her kids, and she tried to destroy evidence. Any sane person would have accepted one of the early, low, settlement offers.

Re:Not about $ (2, Interesting)

IndustrialComplex (975015) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649710)

They repeatedly offered to settle for a reasonable amount. She repeatedly refused.

What were these 'reasonable' amounts? $3000 is what I've heard for pretrial settlements, and THAT is way beyond reasonable to me.

Re:Not about $ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32649828)

I wouldn't describe *any* of the settlement offers as "low". $24 would have been low. Even $240 would have been low. $1000+? Somewhere between punitively high and WTF were they thinking?

Captcha was "cruelty".

Re:Not about $ (1)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#32650284)

Well yeah. But that still doesn't explain why they continue to pursue that RHS long after the judge has made it clear they're not going to get it.

"Shake down" forthcoming (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32646690)

They should have a meeting with the President... perhaps he could "shake down" the RIAA like he did BP?

Achievement Unlocked: Black President.

Re:"Shake down" forthcoming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32648090)

*yawn*

Assume they're after money and it makes no sense (4, Informative)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646754)

At lease IMHO. (IANAL and am not sure what ins-and-outs of possibly setting a bad precedent might be involved.)

But assume they're after using the legal system to cause as much pain as possible for those they're after, as an example to others who might consider using file sharing services to download music, and it makes a lot of sense.

That would be using the horrendous costs of the civil system to create the same incentive structure as the criminal justice system, but without the latter's higher standard of proof or the necessity of passing laws to actually criminalize the behavior or convincing the prosecutors to spend time going after music fans (who might just be voters) rather than rapists and murderers.

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32646922)

But ultimately they are after money. Its foolish to assume otherwise.

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (1)

Bigjeff5 (1143585) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647304)

They don't want the money, they want an example.

They want to be able to say "Don't pirate music or you'll have to pay 90 thousand dollars a song!"

$2500 a song (I think that's about what it came out to, I don't remember exactly how many songs it was) doesn't have nearly the same punch. They want the high judgment; they don't care if Jammie Thomas pays a dime of it.

If they wanted the money, they'd stick with the low judgment, because that's something they are actually likely to get.

This will go really badly if the Special Master decides to bring it down even lower. If ends up being something like $500 a pop, that's a very weak deterrent. And remember that she had hundreds of songs on her machine, and only got hit for about 20 I think, so it really works poorly as a deterrent when people stop to consider the potential consequences.

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32647542)

It's possible that they want to make money from litigious activities but not from this specific case. If they make an example in this case, they can avoid trials in future cases by scaring people into settling. If filesharers are given a choice between paying roughly $10k or facing a trial and what essentially boils down to indentured servitude for the rest of their lives should they lose, the vast majority will pay the $10k and move on. The scheme breaks down when the alternative to the $10k offer is a trial with max damages of $54k...a lot more people will roll the dice on that one.

Once they've set the precedent, they can start suing everyone they suspect of filesharing. When the vast majority settle, they'll make a ton of money. At $10k per settlement, they make $1 million for every 100, so with the huge number of people out there pirating music, it'll add up fast.

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (2, Insightful)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648912)

I'd think that would inspire a few people to figure "Hell, I've got nothing left to loose. Might as well kill a few of the bastards."

I could be wrong, but I believe that recent research has shown that some fraction of people figure that if they've been done wrong, they don't care WHAT it costs them to get even. (Mind you, there'd been plenty of historical examples even before the recent academic research, so I found it convincing without checking into the details.)

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (2, Interesting)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647800)

An example? Certainly won't be the example they meant to make.

The RIAA took a very foolish gamble. They have such faith in the concept and moral rightness of copyright and the law that they were sure the courts could not fail to uphold it. They've deluded themselves, ignoring and denying the painful fact that technology has enabled the undetectable transfer of entire libraries in moments. Only takes one finger sized flash drive to hold what used to fill an entire shelf of vinyl records, and the flash drive can be copied in a few seconds. But just to be extra sure, they picked on someone they thought was weak, who would cave or fatally screw up immediately. Apparently didn't think of the possibility this would push their victim to put up the ferocious defense of a cornered animal. Or of the fact that even in winning, they lose. They made her into a martyr when it seemed they had won. I can't think of any other reason why they'd gamble like that. Thought they could not lose.

But the RIAA can't win this no matter what they do. And now, with the direction this case has taken, seems the RIAA can't even score a draw or pull out with a token loss. So they're going for broke. I wonder if this case could bring the law up to date with reality by weakening copyright law to the point of irrelevancy. Copyright itself is dying, and all this is doing is calling attention to how sick copyright law is.

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (4, Insightful)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648388)

They didn't take a gamble on the moral rightness of copyright. They won that bit, the court decided that this woman did in fact infringe on copyright(and let's be honest, she did).

The gamble they took was that the patently ludicrous multi-million dollar penalties they lobbied for would stand up in court when used against some dumb schmuck who wasn't sharing for profit. They lost that gamble, and they lost big time.

One of the consequences of this is that they've basically lost nearly all of their ability to actually frighten pirates. Given your the abysmally small chance you have of getting caught and how difficult it is to prove that you were sharing any substantial number of songs, 54 grand is, to most people, an acceptable risk. Most people could arrange a payment schedule for that and wouldn't even need to declare bankruptcy. It would suck, but it wouldn't be the end of the world, and you've got a slightly higher chance of getting struck by lightning than sued for copyright infringement, even if you're the biggest pirate in the world, and the lightning strike would probably cost you more.

The other consequence of this is that they're pretty much guaranteed to lose money on any future cases affected by this precedent. By the time you pay the investigators, file the paperwork, pay the lawyers, and all the other costs associated with something like this, you'd be lucky to break even at that kind of judgement. That's not even counting bad publicity.

So if you can't scare people, and the process loses you money, what do you do? They've gone too far down this path to turn back and try to fight this another way, and they can't really ignore the threat to their business model.

Law enforcement is always difficult for instances where the chance of getting caught is incredibly low. If you pile on the penalties you start looking like jack booted thugs, and if you give a fair penalty, there is no deterrent.

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (1)

HiThere (15173) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648956)

One thing is sure, they've lost all the moral capital they had left after it was proven that they were systematically underpaying and overcharging the musicians. (No surprise there. Every time they've been audited there's been the same result, and never any serious penalty.)

For the last two decades in conflicts between the pirates and the RIAA, I've considered the pirates to be the more moral party. Stupid and immoral, but less immoral than the RIAA or MPAA, or any of their member companies. It's to the point where I wasn't really surprised when SONY was proven to be selling hidden root-kits. A bit shocked, but not really surprised. (I was shocked that a company that was once such a bastion of technical elegance had fallen so far so quickly. Now I won't buy anything that has their name on it.)

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (2, Insightful)

bzipitidoo (647217) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649248)

Hang on there folks. When you suggest piracy is immoral, I have to disagree. Less immoral than what the industry does, yes. But that's because it's not at all immoral. "Piracy" is a loaded term. We should be calling it "sharing". Copying is no more immoral than borrowing a book from the library. It's certainly less costly.

There is nothing holy about copyright. Copyright is only a system that attempts to funnel the fairest amount of compensation possible to the originators of art and science, in order to encourage same. It fails dismally on all points. And it's not even good capitalism, as it is based on handing out completely artificial monopolies. Definitely anti-competitive. Other systems could hardly do worse.

Not only should we try other systems, we must. Their business model is toast. Copying immense quantities of data quickly is stunningly easy and cheap today. And it can be as private and anonymous as the participants wish, though mostly people don't bother. Don't need to. It will only get easier and cheaper. These media control freaks are not going to get their way and actually force all humanity to switch to crippled devices that all obey DRM.

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (1)

Eskarel (565631) | more than 4 years ago | (#32650196)

No one said DRM was the answer, but if you think that taking the fruits of someone else's hard work is righteous then you're fooling yourself. Copyright is based on the fundamental human truth that everyone has to eat. It's not perfect, but its purpose is to allow people to create ideas and still eat. If they can't eat they won't create, either because they're too busy to create or because they've starved to death. It doesn't really matter if the artists get paid directly from the proceeds of their creation, or if they create on behalf of someone else in exchange for less risky cash.

Lord knows the current copyright terms are ridiculous, and that the business model of the RIAA is fundamentally flawed(I said they'd be stupid not to fight to defend it, not that it was the right model), but if you think the world would be a better place if music was only created for people who have enough money to hire artists to create it, or where artists and inventors never created anything at all, you're batshit insane.

The price of copying data has dropped to almost nothing. So what? The price of creating the data in the first place hasn't.

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (1)

ekhben (628371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649094)

All well true, but I wonder why you think (pre-conviction) rapists and murderers aren't voters too? :-)

Re:Assume they're after money and it makes no sens (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649282)

All well true, but I wonder why you think (pre-conviction) rapists and murderers aren't voters too? :-)

Some are. (Even post-conviction some are, given the lax enforcement of voting laws.)

But "The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior." works both ways: The typical rapist or murderer has a long rap sheet of previous violent crimes by the time they get around to murder or even their first prosecuted rape. So one can expect a much lower likelihood of current registration and active voting among those accused of rape or murder than those accused of "pirating music".

Also: Rapists and murderers make up a rather small percentage of the population and going after them is likely to gain a prosecutor enough votes from the rest to make up for any move by the felons to vote him out of office. B-) Spending prosecutorial resources going after unauthorized music downloaders, on the other hand, is likely to lose quite a few votes - if only from people concerned about letting some violent criminals go due to the distraction.

Future cases (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32646762)

You seem to be missing one thing. (Actually, this is NYCL, so I doubt it. Anyways...) The RIAA doesn't want to set a precedence for future court cases. Yeah, they might be wasting money on this case, but as long as Thomas pays them an exorbitant fee, they're happy. The next case will move much faster, they won't have to invest as much, and they will still get their $1.92 mill. If this settles for *only* $54,000, then the next case will also settle for around that range. Then they're fucked: future cases will also follow this one, and they can't threaten people with million dollar lawsuits. They don't care how much they spend on this one, they just want future cases to have the million dollar rewards so they can recover their costs. Doesn't this sound like a fucked up business model?

Re:Future cases (2, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647026)

Doesn't this sound like a fucked up business model?

It doesn't even sound like a business model.

Re:Future cases (2, Funny)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647322)

It's a loss leader.

Wikipedia defines that as "a product sold at a low price (at cost or below cost) to stimulate other, profitable sales". Sounds about right.

Re:Future cases (4, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647972)

It's a loss leader.

They make it up on the volume.

So *that's* why! (2, Funny)

zooblethorpe (686757) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648664)

It's a loss leader.

They make it up on the volume.

I always wondered why tracks recorded recently seem to be mixed so much louder than in the past. Thanks, NYCL, you've explained it all!

Cheers,

Re:Future cases (1)

Kingrames (858416) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649344)

I'm still certain that their intention is not profit but control of their industry and that they will fight tooth and nail not to get profit but to hurt anyone who opposes them and their goals.

Someone should explain to them that while their time might be as valuable as $1000/hr or more, the common folk are not that way, so when they do stuff like this they're not even causing that much distress to the people who frustrate them.
Shouldn't there be a term for something like this? Like malicious prosecution? (or if that's taken, litigious assault) I mean these guys are literally picking up the judicial branch of the US and wielding it as a weapon against people who do not know of their rights. That's wrong and against the spirit of the law whether or not the law allows it.

Re:Future cases (1)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647298)

No, that's dumb as hell. They're already forced for a judgment of less than or equal to $54,000. They cannot get it raised at this point.

Re:Future cases (1)

ekhben (628371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649336)

The thing is, few people would ever pay a $2mil judgement. Most would be forced into bankruptcy. Many would be forced there by $54k - of the rest, most would be forced to sell their home to cover it.

I dunno about you, but in terms of generating fear, starting my life from scratch is nearly as bad as bankruptcy. I'd sooner boycott buying and pirating of RIAA labels than risk either one.

even better (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646812)

That is such an awesome development but I have an even better upgrade to it. How about they also allow a random pissed off person to fire a paintball gun at them every 5 minutes during the meeting, film it, and make it a reality show on FOX.

Re:even better (1)

Gr8Apes (679165) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647150)

I'll bet they could even get people to pay for that!

NYCL site - Off topic I know.... (1)

thephydes (727739) | more than 4 years ago | (#32646896)

Is anyone else getting a "jumble" when looking at NYCL site?

Re:NYCL site - Off topic I know.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32646978)

IRC would have been faster.

Or even any type of instant messaging system.

Or even going to a chatroulette or omegle style chat program.

Re:NYCL site - Off topic I know.... (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647654)

> Is anyone else getting a "jumble" when looking at NYCL site?
Yeah, and what fun it is!

TARPIE
_( )_( )_ _

TREKCAR
_ _( )_ _ _( )

MILIWERE
_ _ _ _ _ _( )_

ASMOTH
_( )_ _ _( )

GRIEFINN
_ _( )_ _ _ _( )

What the RIAA is suing for: **** *****(2 words, 4 letters, 5 letters)

(BTW, slashdot: "Please use fewer 'junk' characters"... screw you)

When I grow up (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647056)

I want to be a Special Master.

Seriously, can you think of a better job title? "Tame Racing Driver" [wikipedia.org] is the only one that even comes close.

Re:When I grow up (1)

selven (1556643) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647284)

Seriously, can you think of a better job title?

Shadow Minister [slashdot.org]

Re:When I grow up (1)

dwarfsoft (461760) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647516)

Shadow Minister is just a minister who is not in power. The Minister of Finance, for example, is from the Party that forms Government, where the Shadow Finance Minister would be the oppositions Finance Minister. It does sound cool though (but not in the context you described).

Re:When I grow up (2, Funny)

schon (31600) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648734)

Shadow Minister is just a minister who is not in power.

That's just what they want you to believe!

More educated people know that a Shadow Minister is a title for a member of the Illuminati.

Re:When I grow up (4, Funny)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647518)

I want to be a Special Master.

I would like to be a Jedi knight.

I'm guessing (3, Interesting)

JustNiz (692889) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647102)

I'm guessing the RIAA are keeping this going just to avoid setting any 'dangerous' legal precidents that would undermine their future cases (like $54k being the most they can ever sue for from now on).

I'm totally amazed that none of the judges have found the RIAA guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to Jammie Thomas. I think she should countersue the RIAA for their ridiculous miscarriage of justice.

Re:I'm guessing (2, Insightful)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32647324)

"Its reasoning in making that call has never been clear, since there seemed little point in spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a trial which could produce no more than a judgment for $54,000 or less."

-Summary

Re:I'm guessing (1)

harlows_monkeys (106428) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648902)

I'm guessing the RIAA are keeping this going just to avoid setting any 'dangerous' legal precidents that would undermine their future cases (like $54k being the most they can ever sue for from now on).

You guessed wrong. They are keeping it going because every time they offer to settle for a low amount (as low as around $3-5k), she refuses and insists she will never settle.

I'm totally amazed that none of the judges have found the RIAA guilty of causing unnecessary suffering to Jammie Thomas. I think she should countersue the RIAA for their ridiculous miscarriage of justice.

What miscarriage of justice? She was in fact guilty--this is not seriously in dispute. They offered to settle for an amount much lower than they were likely to get at trial. She refused, and when on to perjure herself while under oath, try to frame her kids, and try to destroy evidence. Any suffering she is undergoing is her own fault.

Re:I'm guessing (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32649218)

Why on earth would she do that if she was guilty? I don't buy it. It just doesn't flow logically. If she was guilty she would have settled. Therefore the only reason she didn't settle is she didn't think she was guilty.

Re:I'm guessing (1)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649938)

"She was in fact guilty--this is not seriously in dispute. They offered to settle for an amount much lower than they were likely to get at trial. She refused, and when on to perjure herself while under oath, try to frame her kids, and try to destroy evidence. Any suffering she is undergoing is her own fault."

I didn't realize she had been tried and convicted of these crimes. That changes everything!

Re:I'm guessing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32649958)

Do you get paid to repeatedly post the "think of the children" message on slashdot?

Personal use (1)

munky99999 (781012) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648626)

Personal use should be limited to retail value of the product at sentencing. No paying lawyer fees or any of that. That way there's a fair balance. If im pirating $50,000 retail worth of stuff... then maybe ya i should be paying out. Gross commercial infringement on the otherhand should be the multiple millions per work. The judge knocking the amount down to $54,000 is attempting to make it reasonable to avoid copyright infringement all together being thrown out.

We're all paying for the RIAA.... (3, Insightful)

ridgecritter (934252) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648648)

Remember, the expenses incurred by the RIAA in these and other similarly insane actions are by and large tax-deductible business expenses. In other words, the American taxpayer is footing the bill through reduced tax revenue and corresponding loss of services and/or increased taxes elsewhere.

Re:We're all paying for the RIAA.... (3, Insightful)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 4 years ago | (#32650024)

The American taxpayers are also footing the bill on the cost of court times, judges, juries, building maintance costs (electric, water, oil/gas, telecommunications, etc., etc.). As much as I hate to say it, the system needs to change some, like for civil cases involving corporations, if the corporation is the party instigating the civil suite, they are required to pay the court fees in a case unless they win. This has a two fold effect, firstly, reducing the taxpayer burden on the local taxpayers, and decrees the number of cases taken to court due to the added risk involved with stupid cases being brought about.

What's the point? (1)

Kjella (173770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32648820)

From this link [blogspot.com] :

In January of this year, the labels offered to settle the case for $25,000, to be donated to a music charity, but Thomas-Rasset declined the offer; her attorney said, "Jammie will not accept anything offer that requires her to pay money to or on behalf of the Plaintiffs."

What kind of meaningful settlement discussion can there be then? Said "Special Master" should just say "no can do" and return it to the court.

Not just about money (1)

MoeDumb (1108389) | more than 4 years ago | (#32649894)

"One commentator suggests the RIAA should at this juncture just say, 'Thanks Jammie, we've had all we can get out of you and caused you enough grief -- pay us $1 and we'll forget about it.'" Sure, that would be reasonable if this were only about Jammie. Let us not forget these beasts are also in the business of wrecking their victims' lives so as to make an example for others.

Copyright Infringment Insurance? (2, Insightful)

Variate Data (1838086) | more than 4 years ago | (#32650230)

How long before an insurance company brings out 'Copyright Infringment Insurance'? ... "For a monthly fee of $X, we will pay any settlement costs that are forced upon you."
Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?