$9,250 Per Song? Isn't That the Same Pricing Scheme They Wanted on iTunes?
Something like X times Y, to the power of Z–where X is the lack of a sustainable business model, Y is an aggravated response to a nonexistent threat, and Z is the inability to differentiate between customers and thieves.”
–Toronto Globe and Mail writer Mathew Ingram explains the formula used to calculate damages in Virgin Records America et al. v. Thomas.
The recording industry won its first ever file-sharing suit to go to trial yesterday, when a federal jury found 30-year-old Jammie Thomas liable for copyright infringement. The jury awarded the six record labels involved in the case a total of $220,000, or $9,250 for each of the 24 songs they claimed Thomas uploaded.
Seems it was far easier for the labels to sell the jury on their investigative methods than you might think–especially after the presiding judge ruled that no proof was needed that anyone actually downloaded the songs at issue in the case–simply making them available constituted distribution.
Emboldened by the ruling, the Recording Industry Association of America took a break from sending prelitigation settlement letters to college students to issue this gloating statement: “The law here is clear, as are the consequences for breaking it. When the evidence is clear, we will continue to bring legal actions against those individuals who have broken the law. This program is important to securing a level playing field for legal online music services.”
Reading that you’d never think it’s been eight years since Napster, would you? Eight years. Anyway …
Attorney Ray Beckerman, writing in the Recording Industry Vs. the People blog, called the verdict “one of the most irrational things” he’s ever seen in law. “A verdict of $222,000, for infringement of 24 song files worth a total of $23.76?” he asked. “In a case where there was zero evidence of the defendant having transferred any of those files? It is an outrage, and I hope it is a wakeup call to the world that we all need to start supporting the defendants in these cases, and the attorneys who are sacrificing so much to represent them. And the support cannot be with words, it must be with checkbooks. And it cannot be next year, it must be now.
“All the businesspeople who make a living from the vibrancy, democracy and freedom of expression which is the Internet need to get behind the RIAA’s victims; if they do not, the world in which they hope to thrive and prosper will disappear rapidly.
“The RIAA ghouls smelled blood in Duluth, and I guess they were right.”