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Verdict Reached In RIAA Trial

CowboyNeal posted about 7 years ago | from the finally-won-one dept.

The Courts 1001

jemtallon writes "The jury in the previously mentioned Captiol v Thomas story has reached a verdict. They have found in favor of the plaintiffs, Capitol, and ordered that she pay a $222,000 fine for 24 cases of copyright infringement."

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Whoops (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860753)

Whoops! Guess paying the extortion money before they sue is sometimes a good idea!

Thank god I'm Canadian.

Don't do the CRIME if you can't pay the FINE !! (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20861063)



Don't do the CRIME if you can't pay the FINE !!

Don't do it !!

Sammy says so !!

Re:Whoops (0, Troll)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#20861187)

I just don't download music illegally. Much simpler solution then fighting lawsuits that I'm guilty of.

Unfortunately inevitable... (4, Insightful)

nweaver (113078) | about 7 years ago | (#20860755)

Unfortunately inevitable, since there was really no defense contesting of the network forensics, or that the username in question just happened to be the same as the defendent's accounts on many other networks, that the system in question was connected to her cable modem, and using her IP address.

Without such defense, a simple "preponderence of the evidence" (the criteria for a civil case) was inevitable.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (4, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | about 7 years ago | (#20860867)

Still $222 THOUSAND dollars is outrageous for such a simple act. If Capital could prove that it hurt them for $222 thousand dollars it would be correct but at most it would have hurt them ~$100-200 at most. They should appeal this case and get a judge that doesn't inflict absurd penalties for simple acts. If Capital won a $300-$600 suit it would be justified but there is no way it could have hurt Capital for $222,000 and the worst part is the artists won't get a penny.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (4, Insightful)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | about 7 years ago | (#20860929)

She will still end up paying $50k in legal fees, even if she wins an appeal. Just another reason to never do business with any RIAA entity ever again.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | about 7 years ago | (#20860931)

but at most it would have hurt them ~$100-200 at most

They gave her that option with an offer to settle out of court. She was an idiot to take them to court.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (0)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20860985)

Yeah, "punitive" damages.

The jury obviously felt that sharing music is something that should be "punished".

Sharing, should be punished.

This is the world we live in.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (4, Informative)

anagama (611277) | about 7 years ago | (#20861067)

Punitive damages is a term with a special meaning. No punitive damages were awarded in this case. Statutory damages could have been as high as $150,000 per song. While that level may well be punitive in a colloquial sense, we are talking a special usage -- not a conversational usage.

The music wasn't hers to share (0, Troll)

megaditto (982598) | about 7 years ago | (#20861085)

So if I steal your computer or your cannabis, and then "share" them with my friends, would you still object?

Sharing is caring, right?

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (2, Interesting)

speaker of the truth (1112181) | about 7 years ago | (#20861223)

Infringing on someone's legally given rights in order to benefit society is punished, yes. Funny how when you describe it accurately it suddenly seems worse.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (5, Insightful)

stinerman (812158) | about 7 years ago | (#20861001)

There is a case that challenges the constitutionality of such high fines. I believe our very own NewYorkCountryLaywer (912032) [slashdot.org] is counsel for the defendants.

One thing you point out is paramount. Since this was a civil case, the fine should be only enough to promote equity rather than be punitive in nature.

Another interesting thing is that, averaged out, this adds up to $9250 per infringement. At that price the defendant could have physically stolen about 600 copies of each work (assuming around $15 per work). So it pays to remember that the fines for physically stealing copyrighted works are much less than infringing on them.

Someone with mod points... (1)

Smeagel (682550) | about 7 years ago | (#20861049)

Needs to mod this post up. This is a very good point.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (1)

homer_ca (144738) | about 7 years ago | (#20861077)

Since this was a civil case, the fine should be only enough to promote equity rather than be punitive in nature.

How does that square with the concept of statutory damages? The maximum judgment per song could have been much higher than $9250.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (2, Interesting)

stinerman (812158) | about 7 years ago | (#20861227)

It doesn't in this context.

Congress approved the penalties when copying works could not be done very cheaply. Therefore, non-commercial copyright infringement was almost non-existent. When it did happen, it was on a very small scale. I'm sure some MSTies here recall the tape trading of MST3K episodes. I wouldn't be surprised if that was about as big as copyright infringement got before the Internet became popular.

The statutory damages assumed that all infringement was for a commercial purpose. Congress basically had to assign a dollar value to how much they thought copyright was worth. Since almost all of it was for commercial purposes they aimed a bit high.
At least, that is the best I can gather. Perhaps a copyright lawyer will come by and put me in my place.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (4, Insightful)

webmaster404 (1148909) | about 7 years ago | (#20861165)

And thats the reason why the record companies are dying. They make "pirating" songs a ton easier then paying for them. Take for instance buying an iTunes song.

1. Set up an account (Not that hard)
2. Put money in your account (not hard at all)
3. Hope they have a song you want (They might, they might not)
4. Buy the song (Just takes a click)
5. Put the song on your iPod (not hard)
6. Put the song on your generic mp3 player (Oh wait you can't....)
7. Play the song on Linux (Oh wait, I have to use restricted drivers....)
8. Share the songs with your friends (Oh wait, it can only be copied to a certain amount of computers...)

And downloading the song illegitimately

1. Get the file (not hard unless you don't have seeders)
2. Put the song on your mp3 player (not hard)
3. Put the song on your Linux computer (you can usually get in .ogg format so not hard)
4. Put the song on your iPod (easy)
5. Share the songs (really easy)

So besides price "pirating" songs has so many advantages that the RIAA and others stupidly ignore in support of more DRM and higher prices rather then making it much easier for people to download and share songs, after all, your not going to buy a song if you haven't heard it for free somewhere else.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (2, Interesting)

Bonewalker (631203) | about 7 years ago | (#20861177)

Parent's comments are right on. Why is it physically stealing something tangible, and taking away a definite sale the record label stood to make, is so much less important than a potential sale, the copying of a song, in this case about one album's worth, especially for no monetary gain? If we and Jammie Thompson aren't being strong-armed into submission by those with money and lawyers, no one ever has been or will be.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (1, Redundant)

dirk (87083) | about 7 years ago | (#20861213)

Another interesting thing is that, averaged out, this adds up to $9250 per infringement. At that price the defendant could have physically stolen about 600 copies of each work (assuming around $15 per work). So it pays to remember that the fines for physically stealing copyrighted works are much less than infringing on them.
I really hate this lame comparison. She was not sued for downloading songs, but for distributing songs. Was it too much? Probably. But comparing it to stealing physical CDs is meaningless, since they are 2 completely different activities. If you really want a comparison, it would be closest to her making and selling physical CDs, since she was distributing songs (and no, I'm not saying it's a perfect comparison, but it's probably the closest).

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (4, Informative)

PhysicsPhil (880677) | about 7 years ago | (#20861221)

One thing you point out is paramount. Since this was a civil case, the fine should be only enough to promote equity rather than be punitive in nature.

Another interesting thing is that, averaged out, this adds up to $9250 per infringement. At that price the defendant could have physically stolen about 600 copies of each work (assuming around $15 per work). So it pays to remember that the fines for physically stealing copyrighted works are much less than infringing on them.

This was actually addressed in the Ars Technica writeup of the case. Normally the damages for copyright infringement are a few hundred dollars ($300 max rings a bell). In the case of willful infringement, however, damages can increase up to $150,000 per incident. The jury found that the defendant had engaged in such willful infringement, and could have awarded up to $3.6 million ($150,000 for each of 24 songs being distributed).

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (1, Insightful)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 7 years ago | (#20861201)

Still $222 THOUSAND dollars is outrageous for such a simple act. If Capital could prove that it hurt them for $222 thousand dollars it would be correct...

Exactly.

Normally in any civil case, in order to be awarded damages, you must prove harm. There was no discussion of it in this case - the RIAA went in with the huge advantage of assumed harm. WTF?!?!?

If I lost both legs because the RIAA cut them off because I was protesting in front of their headquarters, and I sued them for damages, I would never have such an advantage. Since I sit in a chair all day to earn a living, the judge would only award me enough to pay my medical bills, and my wages while I was in the hospital. I could cry "but they cut my legs off!! They should be punished!" all I want to, but in most states, the judge would just be like, "Ok, show me your bills and your pay stubs, and you'll get that much.".

Where is the justice???

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860935)

They didn't even have any solid evidence though. The computer was completely clean because the hard-drive was dead. They didn't even have evidence she was actually using Kazaa or whatever software they thought she was using. The machine could have been hacked for all they knew.

This is just preposterous to me. Even if found guilty, $222 thousand dollars?

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860969)

How nice to see there are still such naive people in the world. I do not supposed you have a wireless network, because I am quite sure I could make it appear that you were a child porn addict. It is easy to fake every single thing they used against this person. For that matter, when did they prove that it was her at the computer. God forbid, your child or neighbor sat down at your computer one day. Are you so unaware or are you one of the industry lackies they now pay in India for the first post on these type of issues?

Download virus (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860973)

What if someone wrote a virus that downloaded a random number of songs? Then if songs were found on my PC, and the virus was on my PC, would that create reasonable doubt?

Re:Download virus (2, Funny)

suv4x4 (956391) | about 7 years ago | (#20861073)

What if someone wrote a virus that downloaded a random number of songs? Then if songs were found on my PC, and the virus was on my PC, would that create reasonable doubt?

Right, I've seen plenty of viruses download random songs, this makes perfect sense. Now back to why Chewbacca lives on Endor...

Re:Download virus (4, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#20861097)

reasonable doubt
It's a civil case.
It's a civil case.
It's a civil case.

How many more times?

No Justice. Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (2, Insightful)

Erris (531066) | about 7 years ago | (#20861015)

Even if you ignore the incompetence of the extortionists, no one in their right mind thinks a $220,000.00 judgment is fitting punishment for sharing a few songs. Extremism of this kind will eliminate public libraries and have anti-social consequences the most far sighted can not imagine. The defendant has been made a homeless slave to some of the world's biggest companies, and so have we all.

Re:Unfortunately inevitable... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20861017)

Still, the jury could have exercised their right of nullification and found her guilty of the 22 acts of copyright infringement and imposed a penalty of $440 ($20 per violation, a reasonable number based on the price of a CD). From the article, it looks like the prosecution went to great pains to prove that the violations were actually committed by the defendant but didn't once try to justify the insane judgment they were seeking.

In one lump sum? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 7 years ago | (#20860761)

I somehow doubt they will get all the money now owed...

Re:In one lump sum? (2, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | about 7 years ago | (#20860977)

If she's in the US, they can garnish wages, attach liens to property, etc... for a number of years (usually seven, IIRC).

Intellectual property is fiction (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860763)

Expensive fiction, apparently.

Re:Intellectual property is fiction (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860897)

Whereas in Soviet Russia, fiction is intellectual property. Oh wait...

(This post was written by a would-be novelist, but is 59,970 words too short to qualify as a novel.)

Wrong, but right. (2, Insightful)

v_1_r_u_5 (462399) | about 7 years ago | (#20860767)

The amount awarded per song ($9250) is downright ridiculous, but she clearly did download these songs :(

Re:Wrong, but right. (2, Insightful)

zenslug (542549) | about 7 years ago | (#20860877)

She is guilty, but the law needs fixing.

Re:Wrong, but right. (1)

J_Omega (709711) | about 7 years ago | (#20860891)

If she has the money or contacts, she'll appeal. The RIAA would have if the decision was the opposite.

The $/song is insane. What I find worrisome is that this might convince some (perhaps innocent) people to settle out of court much more quickly, seeing as how the average there is around $3500.

Re:Wrong, but right. (1)

xtracto (837672) | about 7 years ago | (#20860955)

What I find worrisome is that this might convince some (perhaps innocent) people to settle out of court much more quickly, seeing as how the average there is around $3500.

Or, what could be worst is that seeing how they can get $200,000 after the court, they might increment the settlement fees, they could easily increment them to $10,000 and it will be just 5%.

ridiculous for you maybe (5, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | about 7 years ago | (#20860907)

The amount awarded per song ($9250) is downright ridiculous

Not many people know this, but that's the price they originally wanted to charge per song on iTunes.

Re:Wrong, but right. (1)

hasbeard (982620) | about 7 years ago | (#20861119)

Was she being charged with downloading the songs? Or was it making the songs available on her computer for others to download? I'm thinking it is the latter. In that case, she is not being fined for the value of one song, but the fine is an attempt to compensate the plaintiff for the value of the files she distributed to others.

Re:Wrong, but right. (1)

Bonewalker (631203) | about 7 years ago | (#20861217)

No, she did not clearly download these songs. Is it not possible she created a Kazaa account to look for and exchange LEGAL songs or media? And then that someone else with access to her computer used her account to download these 24 of some 1700 songs on her machine? I know it has happened at my house. They did not prove that it was her at the computer and that should be the only test of guilt or innocence in cases like these....who was sitting at the fucking computer when the songs were shared, distributed, or downloaded.

good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860769)

This should make up for the 20% decline in music sales this year. Keep'em coming boys!

Justice is served. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860771)

see this, pirates? justice is served. Next time try paying the artists for the music you listen to instead of buying so many frappuccinoes.

Frosty Pissed (1)

Chapter80 (926879) | about 7 years ago | (#20860775)

Clearly bad lawyers! And don't use the same name on Kazaa as match.com!

Re:Frosty Pissed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20861191)

Minneapolis defense attorney Brian Toder said he and Thomas can't explain what happened, but that it wasn't be proven that his client shared copyrighted files. Toder offered theories that there could have been a computer party at Thomas's home or someone could have been outside her window with a laptop.
Seriously? A "Computer Party" or someone lurking by her window? That's the best you have? You couldn't point the finger to any friends casually using her computer? Computer parties sound like something you'd see held by stereotypical geeks in an 80s "wacky high school" movie, and "outside her window" doesn't match the distance wireless networks can reach (assuming she has a wireless router).

But then the article didn't really paint her in the best of light either.

My disposable income used to go for CDs, but obviously not anymore. I've had to make some changes regarding extras for my children. All the disposable income went toward this case.
If you had $222,000 to spend on CDs, you'd have a few more than 400. Unless she was into collecting things like the Airwolf Themesong CD set [airwolfthemes.com] .

TOR & similar services will now grow (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860781)

Tragedy of the commons in 3... 2... 1... (5, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | about 7 years ago | (#20861215)

Anyone who uses TOR for file sharing is either maliciously or negligently engaged in the destruction of the network. TOR cannot handle file-sharing loads. The most that TOR can handle is control communications (like tracker communications in BitTorrent). If you actually start passing data transmissions through it, you'll kill its usability.

You're better off using a P2P program that's designed to hide your activity than slapping TOR over one that isn't designed for it.

How unfortunate... (1)

screevo (701820) | about 7 years ago | (#20860791)

... that the first person with the cajones to challenge the RIAA is the one person with the worst chance of winning.

Re:How unfortunate... (3, Insightful)

uncreativ (793402) | about 7 years ago | (#20861023)

I don't think this is the first case where the RIAA was challenged. The RIAA lawyers are just smarter about dropping cases they don't have a good chance of winning rather than risk legal results that could set bad precedence (from their perspective). I've read tons of stories on slashdot about dropped lawsuits or settlements after filing--we don't typically hear what the settlement terms are, so for all we know some of those settlements could be slaps on wrists depending on how good the RIAA case is.

I do agree though that this reaching verdict is unfortunate for those who want to challenge the RIAA. It would be better if verdicts came out against the RIAA.

Re:How unfortunate... (2, Insightful)

pjoyce1 (1163775) | about 7 years ago | (#20861057)

Exactly! Worse still are the media scare stories that are sure to follow. I am so sick of reading about "illegal downloading." Would someone please report instead that this case was about distributing files and not downloading them. Better still, would someone write (the truth that) there have been no cases of "illegal downloading" ever litigated in the US. Too bad Capitol v. Foster didn't get this level of attention.

Let me be the nth to say (1)

gringer (252588) | about 7 years ago | (#20860795)

Damn....

Then again. It's a jury trial, which I recall people preferring when they think they'll lose.

Good result (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860797)

They made that cunt bitch pay, but went easy on her.

That's what you faggots get for all your years of stealing, eh infringing, your music.

Fucking cheap-assed moochers.

Also, the bitch is a liar.

Idiot (-1, Troll)

mh1997 (1065630) | about 7 years ago | (#20860799)

Thomas testified Wednesday that she had never even heard of KaZaA and never used the peer-to-peer file sharing service on her computer.
If I heard it once, I've heard it a thousand times on slashdot - she deserves what she got for having a connection to the internet that was not 100% secure.

I on the other hand feel sorry for people that do not know how to secure their internet connection and open themselves up to people that feel all data should be free no matter how you acquire it.

Re:Idiot (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 7 years ago | (#20861007)

I on the other hand feel sorry for people that do not know how to secure their internet connection and open themselves up to people that feel all data should be free no matter how you acquire it.

our gov couldn't even secure its own computers against chinese hackers.

you expect any better from some average citizen?

(uhm, what world do you live in?)

Re:Idiot (2, Interesting)

wik (10258) | about 7 years ago | (#20861113)

Heck, our government can't even secure its machines from itself [nytimes.com] .

Re:Idiot (1)

twbecker (315312) | about 7 years ago | (#20861045)

Sorry, you're the idiot if you think she deserved what she got? RTFA. The security of her connection wasn't the issue. She did it. Even so, don't you think $220k is just a wee bit over the top?

Haha (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860809)

Woohoo, that is what you get when you illegally download music you don't own. Naturally there will be all sorts of slashbots stating how this person was wronged and how capitalism suxorz and we need to embrace communism with no rights whatsoever.

Hopefully the infringer will have to pay everything at once and have her waged garnisheed. If I had my way, she would have been facing prison time for illegally download crap she doesn't own.

Re:Haha (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860853)

hahah.. it must be fun to be a fucking asshole.

Appeal fund? (5, Insightful)

tacarat (696339) | about 7 years ago | (#20860815)

I wonder if she'll be allowed to pay the settlement like the recording industry did theirs. In unpopular CDs that cost pennies to make but apply to the fine at retail price.

Re:Appeal fund? (3, Insightful)

sayfawa (1099071) | about 7 years ago | (#20860971)

Heh, yeah. Maybe she could set up a business where she sells individual strands of her hair for $100/foot. If they can make up imaginary prices for their CDs surely she can name the price for her carefully grown hair. 2,200 hairs in an envelope and she's paid in full.

Son of a... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860819)

I thought for sure that a jury would never throw a fellow citizen under a bus for those record industry scumbags. I guess I'll have to finally realize that at least twelve in thirteen Americans are hopelessly retarded.

12 peers? HA! (4, Insightful)

Libertarian001 (453712) | about 7 years ago | (#20860821)

I've always believed, naively perhaps, that juries usually got it right. How freaking brain-dead do these people have to be? $220K for 24 songs? That's $9250 per song! That's substantially more than what the RIAA was claiming they lost on each instance (unless I mis-remembered?).

For music.

This jury of 12 idiots decided to ruin someone's life for 24 songs. Great going, guys.

Re:12 peers? HA! (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | about 7 years ago | (#20860895)

Is it the jury who decides on the amount of the fine or whether the defendant is guilty of the crimes they have been charged with?

Re:12 peers? HA! (1)

EmperorKagato (689705) | about 7 years ago | (#20860915)

I bet all 12 were selected by answering Yes to the question "Do you think stealing music is illegal?"

Re:12 peers? HA! (1)

wasabii (693236) | about 7 years ago | (#20860925)

I don't know. I slightly agree that it's "high", but I also can't really argue that it's appropiate.

$20 a CD. How many times were the files downloaded? That adds up pretty quickly. I can see that hitting hundreds of thousands pretty easily if you leave Kazaa running 24/7.

Of course you can argue till you're blue in the face that nobody would have bought the music anyways. Which is not really the point. The company placed a selling price on it. Somebody distributed it without paying the price N times. N * sales price.

It would be sort of like arguing that just because you stole something doesn't mean you're liable to replace the seller with the selling price or give the item back. You can argue there that nobody would have bought it either, but it's not very relevent.

To me it seems pretty obvious. Giving away music is copyright infringement. Don't do it and get caught. And if you do get caught doing it in massively high volumes, expect to get fucked.

Re:12 peers? HA! (1)

Odin_Tiger (585113) | about 7 years ago | (#20861065)

> How many times were the files downloaded?
That's one thing I've been curious about in all this. I haven't shared files illegally in many, many years (since before the fall of Napster), but back when I did, I know that I typically logged on, grabbed what I wanted while canceling all attempted uploads, and then logged off. (In all fairness, tho, I do give back 200% at least when I torrent linux .iso's and such these days). Anywho, my point is - what if you never, ever uploaded any songs? Would they still peg you with this crazy rate?

Re:12 peers? HA! (1)

sayfawa (1099071) | about 7 years ago | (#20861137)

What I wonder is, if she or her ISP had some kind of logger that magically recorded how much of what was uploaded and it was found that only, say, 3 songs had been uploaded to other people, would the fine still have been the same?

Did the guilty verdict and subsequent fine even require that some songs were uploaded? It seems like it, but the proof isn't there:
The lawsuit, brought by the RIAA... claimed that Thomas distributed 1,702 digital audio files - many of them the plaintiffs' copyrighted sound recordings - from the KaZaA shared folder on her computer to potentially millions of other KaZaA users for free.

It's crazy to think that a trial can come to a decision and fine based on what could possibly have happened.

Re:12 peers? HA! (1)

wizardforce (1005805) | about 7 years ago | (#20861145)

I don't know. I slightly agree that it's "high", but I also can't really argue that it's appropiate.
a quarter of a million dollars is excessive no matter how you look at it. that's a house dude.

$20 a CD. How many times were the files downloaded? That adds up pretty quickly.
yes about that, did they show how many times the material was copied? can you tell me that it was about 10,000 cd's worth from this?

It would be sort of like arguing that just because you stole something doesn't mean you're liable to replace the seller with the selling price or give the item back. You can argue there that nobody would have bought it either, but it's not very relevent.
except in this case, music can be copied for our purposes an infinite number of times, there is no supply problem, there is however, a problem with the entire business model- in that it will fail horribly while things like this continue to happen regardless of how nasty companies get- how many people they sue for a significant part of a million dollars...

To me it seems pretty obvious. Giving away music is copyright infringement. Don't do it and get caught. And if you do get caught doing it in massively high volumes, expect to get fucked.
That's true and at the same time very sad, almost none of our art is for the sake of art, rather it is for the sake of making some people rich, in many cases not the artist. this isn't a sustainable business model, it is broken in every way and it will eventually change or the entire thing will die. theres going to be a change, it is up to them to make it for better or for extinction.

Obligatory response (1)

davitf (522408) | about 7 years ago | (#20861173)

Of course you can argue till you're blue in the face that nobody would have bought the music anyways. Which is not really the point. The company placed a selling price on it. Somebody distributed it without paying the price N times. N * sales price.

It would be sort of like arguing that just because you stole something doesn't mean you're liable to replace the seller with the selling price or give the item back. You can argue there that nobody would have bought it either, but it's not very relevent.
I know you're not actually equating the two things, but since some people do that, it is usually worth repeating the fundamental difference between the two cases...

With the physical stealing, since the quantity of the item is limited, the seller has actually lost the value he could have obtaining by selling the item to someone else. With the digital copying, the copyright owner has no actual loss from someone getting an unauthorized copy if they wouldn't have paid for an authorized one.

Re:12 peers? HA! (1)

anagama (611277) | about 7 years ago | (#20860991)

Because they decided her acts were willful, the range went up to $150,000. They went with a figure on the very low end of the range -- bottom 6% -- so it clearly could have been worse for her. I'm sure the RIAA isn't crying, but they'd have much rather seen a seven figure award for the sheer shock value the headlines would get.

Re:12 peers? HA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20861183)

"Because they decided her acts were willful, the range went up to $150,000."

Willful as opposed to what? You can be found guilty for accidental?

Re:12 peers? HA! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20861035)

This jury of 12 idiots decided to ruin someone's life for 24 songs. Great going, guys.


Probably they decided to ruin someone's life for a 24 thousand dollars bribe to each member and some kind of immunity for their sons, should they be caught stealing music and sharing terrorism. This level of dangerous stupidity in a jury can be achieved only through malice and corruption.

Re:12 peers? HA! (2, Interesting)

Erris (531066) | about 7 years ago | (#20861105)

This jury of 12 idiots decided to ruin someone's life for 24 songs. Great going, guys.

Remember that one of the purposes of juries is to override corrupt government and bad laws. The defendant was guilty technically but morally innocent. Juries deliberate in private for just this reason - they can agree to return a not guilty verdict when the law outrages them. The law exists to reflect the community's sense of outrage at misconduct. When conduct does not elicit outrage, juries need to be brave enough to do what's right.

Re:12 peers? HA! (1)

Major Blud (789630) | about 7 years ago | (#20861121)

The verdict hit me by surprise too. I thought for sure the jury would be sympathetic, or at least let her off with a lesser fine. But then I realized that there was a jury involved in the O.J. trial too....

This is in bad taste... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860827)

But she just got owned. http://thomas.justgotowned.com/ [justgotowned.com]

what a dog case (1)

anagama (611277) | about 7 years ago | (#20860855)

From the various things I read, her attorney questioned her for about three minutes. Add to this all the soon to be repeated evidence against her, plus the fact she put on no expert witnesses at all, and I have to wonder, why the heck did she go to trial with this dog of a case? Reportedly, she spent $60k on attorney fees.

Anyway, if the damages award is not dischargeable in bankruptcy (something I would hope she looked into prior to trial), she is just screwed for life.

I suppose her only hope is on the issue of whether "making available" requires the RIAA to show someone downloaded the stuff in her shared folder. But the appeals are going to be very expensive. Even if she wins, it will be pyrrhic victory. I just don't understand.

her defense just didn't wash (4, Informative)

spirit_fingers (777604) | about 7 years ago | (#20860861)

Frankly, as much as I loathe the RIAA, Thomas' story simply didn't hold up. The prosecution was able to prove that in an attempt to evade prosecution, she had replaced her hard drive shortly after receiving a warning notice from the RIAA, not before as she claimed.

It's a shame that the defendant of this first RIAA jury trial turned out to be a liar with a bogus defense. But apparently, that's who she was. Given the facts brought out in the case, I don't see how the jury could have found for the defense.

Re:her defense just didn't wash (1)

feed_me_cereal (452042) | about 7 years ago | (#20861041)

It's a shame that the defendant of this first RIAA jury trial turned out to be a liar with a bogus defense.

I agree that it's unfortunate, but I don't blame her at all. How do you think her punishment compares to that of other crimes? $220k for sharing 24 songs? christ... I guess she should have settled.

Re:her defense just didn't wash (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 7 years ago | (#20861133)

I've got bad news for you. Most of the people fingered by the RIAA are actually guilty of file sharing, and most of those are sharing copyrighted works owned by RIAA members. We focus on the few innocent ones here because they are the poster children for abuses of the system.

I think the award is still too high, given the fees she'll also owe her lawyers. If she is a "working" person (i.e. someone in the bottom 80% of income earners in the US), this will ruin her financially. The total, close to $300k, is more than most under-40 people have in their retirement accounts and is more than they owe on their mortgages (you /.ers in SF are _not_ typical - the average house int he US still under 300k). Obviously I'm not on the jury, but I probably would have awarded twice the original settlement amount.

Re:her defense just didn't wash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20861141)

It's a shame that the defendant of this first RIAA jury trial turned out to be a liar with a bogus defense.
More like, "It's a well-orchestrated plan that the defendant of this first RIAA jury trial was selected to be a liar with a bogus defense."

It's not hard to delay and/or drop other cases so that the first one to be tried is a winner for them.

Jury probably got paid just as big as the fine (-1, Troll)

unity100 (970058) | about 7 years ago | (#20860869)

they afflicted upon the defendant. by whom ? you know it.

Boycott or shut up (4, Insightful)

slashkossucks (1160093) | about 7 years ago | (#20860889)

I challenge Slashdot to boycott the US recording and movie industry... either that or stop whining...

Re:Boycott or shut up (1)

paleo2002 (1079697) | about 7 years ago | (#20860937)

Definitely. If the recording industry feels the need to squeeze people for this much money, then from now on they can make ALL their money through litigation. There's a difference between protecting your assets and alienating your customer base.

Re:Boycott or shut up (1)

boobavon (857902) | about 7 years ago | (#20860957)

Everyone from slashdot already pirates everything. You're years behind in your challenge.

Re:Boycott or shut up (4, Funny)

rdejean (150504) | about 7 years ago | (#20860965)

Uhhh we are. That's why they keep suing us!!

Target the executives (2, Interesting)

JakiChan (141719) | about 7 years ago | (#20860913)


I think it's time to find the houses of the RIAA executives, hack their wireless, and share from them. Capture the data and send it to the RIAA and say "Hey, please sue them."

Re:Target the executives (1)

Hijacked Public (999535) | about 7 years ago | (#20861163)

I'm sure that would so totally work. Because they would be willing to file suit against themselves. Also because, for sure, their wireless range extends beyond the fences around their homes inside their gated communities.

But yeah, it would so totally work. You drive, I'll scan. Do you know what an Australian Peel is, in case we get jumped by their bodyguards?

Makin' a list... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20860933)

$9000 a song?! Makin' a list; checkin' it twice. Gonna send some random motherfuckers to hell. Please reply with suggestions.

Re:Makin' a list... (1)

headkase (533448) | about 7 years ago | (#20861115)

Jack Valenti [wikipedia.org] ! Oh? He's already dead? Damn, you're good .

Open and shut case, but crazy fines! (5, Insightful)

MobyDisk (75490) | about 7 years ago | (#20860963)

This seems like a fairly open and shut case, so I'm not sure I understand the confusion here.

Prosecution:

...her user name, IP address, Modem MAC address, pass-word-protected computer, and the songs in the shared folder matched her musical tastes.

...Thomas replaced the hard drive in her computer two weeks after an investigation.
Defendant:
Tried to get the RIAA president to testify, who has nothing to do with the facts of the case.

...There could have been a computer party at Thomas's home or someone could have been outside her window with a laptop.

...suggested that computer hacking or IP spoofing could as explanations.
The RIAA had facts, and the defendant had excuses. I know everyone wants to defend the little guy, but please pick a better case than this one to represent the people. The only thing I see odd here is the fines. THAT is ridiculous.

Not surprising... (1, Troll)

loraksus (171574) | about 7 years ago | (#20860979)

This is what you get when you have a jury of "your peers" - something that in the United States means "people not smart enough to get out of jury duty", "people who are ok with getting paid $8 a day, while parking at the courthouse costs $17 and isn't covered" and "people who weren't excluded by either side's lawyers for showing a hint of intellect"

The lack of intelligence in your average juror has turned the legal system into a joke, which allows for rulings like this to happen. Stroll out some "expert witnesses", dazzle the morons in the jury box with some bullshit (and do it better than the other guy) and you have yourself a win, regardless of the actual facts of the case.

And then there is the $220,000 in "damages"...

"Music has value" (3, Insightful)

BearRanger (945122) | about 7 years ago | (#20860983)

As the RIAA lawyer stated. I agree. A few generations ago people quite happily made their own, and played it for the enjoyment of their family and friends. If you believe, as I do, that music is an essential part of what it means to be human I strongly encourage you to get out and make some. Give it away. Invite your friends to listen. Bring your instruments to Slashdot parties. Whatever it takes. Just don't *buy* any from the current music cartels.

Boycott the record companies into extinction.

Somewhere along the line people who are capable of being artists (i.e. each of us) were reduced to being "consumers". It's time we stop just accepting this as a matter of course.

Re:"Music has value" (1)

stevenvi (779021) | about 7 years ago | (#20861219)

I agree wholeheartedly here. I myself make my own music. It's not particularly "good" music; I have poor equipment and no knowledge of how professional recording is done, but I have fun making it. I provide it for free to anyone who wants to listen to it [archive.org] , thanks to archive.org. Admittedly, that is very few people.

I used to be a major consumer of the RIAA -- I own over 500 albums! But that all stopped around the year 2000 when I decided that modern music wasn't nearly as good as the older stuff, and I already had plenty of Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and CCR discs/tapes. (The list of old music I have goes on and on, but that's besides the point.) I have not bought a CD from a major label in over five years. I'm just waiting for everyone else to do their share of the boycott.

I consider myself to be quite vain in that I listen to my own music more than the music I've bought.

Setting Precedent (1)

moogle10000 (874418) | about 7 years ago | (#20860995)

I'm amazed. The jurors have set a precedent - even though quite a few people "share" music, they are willing to convict another person of "copyright infringement." Do the jurors realize that this ruling opens up the door for additional lawsuits against, potentially, them?

Re:Setting Precedent (3, Insightful)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 7 years ago | (#20861127)

I doubt the jury thinks that, because I suspect the jury is made up of a representative cross section of society, the vast majority of which do not use or run P2P software to exchange music rips.

It's surprising how many people on Slashdot thinks everyone does it. Mention Kazaa to the average non-geek, and most go "Huh".

On a separate note, congratulations to Sharman Networks for standing by this woman and offering to pay the fine she's incurred using Kazaa for its intended, advertised, purpose.

...they are going to do that, right?

Seeding or originating (1)

heroine (1220) | about 7 years ago | (#20861051)

So was she seeding or did she originate the tracking file?

We need to treat this like WAR. (4, Insightful)

Lunarsight (1053230) | about 7 years ago | (#20861069)

We can sit around in forums, yapping non-stop about how horrid the RIAA is, or we can really begin to take the fight to them. I think it's time we do that. Let's do everything we possibly can to tarnish their reputation. Sadly, despite treating consumers like crap, a lot of music fans still follow them around like puppy dogs. A good starting point is to target Youtube. Universal Music Group has an account they use to post videos of their artists. These music videos can be rated. Comments can be left for them. Let's all go there and give them the lowest rating possible. Let's fill the comments section with relevant information about the unethical tactics groups like the UMG are using against consumers. If they play dirty, it seems MORE than fair that we RETURN THE FAVOR. Why should we respond to them with kid gloves? They certainly wouldn't do that for us.

Re:We need to treat this like WAR. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20861169)

Or better yet, pay them a personal visit -- stalking from office to office with an Armalite AR-10 Carbine-gas semiautomatic, bitterly pumping round after round into the attorneys, their colleagues and co-workers.

Love,
Tyler

The moral of the story, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20861153)

Don't share a few songs online, instead share ten of thousands in person. The result will be million of computers with libraries containing nearly every song. Greed ony works in the short term.

Water ? You mean like, from the toilet ? Ahhuh ! (2, Insightful)

shihonage (731699) | about 7 years ago | (#20861155)

For some reason I see those jurors as characters from "Idiocracy". I simply can't imagine them being normal human beings.

Surprise surprise (2, Insightful)

Acrimonymous (1164185) | about 7 years ago | (#20861171)

Tra-la-fucking-la.

The "victory" is mixed much like my feelings... downloading the songs illegally was wrong. I find no moral standing there. Yet, at the same time, the ridiculous approach the RIAA is taking in these cases - and this equally ridiculous reward - leave me unwilling to condemn the defendant.

Oh well. I've bought one RIAA-backed album in four years, and that was a mistake. RIAA Rader [riaaradar.com] . Learn it. Love it. Tell the RIAA they can go fuck themselves with various sharp objects.

What would Tony Soprano do? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20861175)

I hate to talk like this in a public forum. But the RIAA has reached the point where we should consider the possibility that if the legal system can't or won't deliver any reasonable form of justice, then an alternative approach should be considered.

    Let us consider a fictional character's probable response to an attempt by a bunch of entertainment lawyers to extort $250000 from him. Let us consider that his probable response is a reasonable and prudent response that any one of us should consider should we find ourselves in a similar situation.

    We are trained from birth to be civilized people and not to respond to extortion in uncivilized ways. But with the complete and total failure of the legal system, it appears that the time has come to reconsider what a reasonable, prudent, and civilized response should be when faced with a lifetime of crushing debt over the trivial and even arguablely non-existent 'offence' of listening to music in a manner that is not approved by the giant monopolistic corporations who claim to own the world's music.

    If we are called upon to judge a person who has chosen to respond to a legal extortion through means that are not permitted within the legal framework, let us judge that whatever action that this person has taken in response to this legal extortion was justified under the circumstances. And that person is innocent of any actions taken which might be considered punishable were they done to without the provocation.

    I'm quite serious about this. Cruel actions instigated by cruel organizations against randomly selected ordinary people justify cruel responses against such organizations and their representatives.

    This is the way that the world works.

Juries are fickle beasts (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | about 7 years ago | (#20861209)

After all, they acquitted OJ.

But, I guess her peers decided she's a quarter million dollar threat, even if it was her neighbor using her wireless connection to do it.
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