The much maligned RIAA comes to town.

How’s this for redonk?

Woman ordered to pay $1.92M in music downloading case

Jammie Thomas-Rasset, 32, a Brainerd mother of four, was found liable for downloading and distributing more than 1,700 songs on Kazaa, an Internet file-sharing network.

…a federal jury in Duluth found her liable up to $220,000 for copyright infringement of the 24 songs the RIAA focused on

It appears they are not awarding damages on all 1700 songs, and the 24 songs actually works out to more like 80Kper song.

80k per song. Let that sink in.
Under federal law, the jury could have awarded up to $150,000 per song.


This wasn’t a criminal case, it was civil, and to the best of my knowledge she didn’t distribute the music; only downloaded which should be worth about .99 cents per song.

I get that they found her guilty, but how can they justify 1.9M in damages?

What songs did she download? The Siren Song that attempted to lure Jason and the Argonauts to shore? I kind of doubt the Golden Fleece itself was worth $1.92M.

I say take this one to the Supreme Court, it’s a clear case of Cruel and Unusual Punishment. They say this case is going to set precedent and have national implications.

I ask, has the RIAA and a Federal Jury just handed our country and legal system a Golden Fleecing?

Please, fell free to express your outrage.


17 Comments so far

  1. hashmasterflapface on June 18th, 2009 @ 9:36 pm

    Please, fell free to express your outrage.

    Sure will.

    I’m outraged at folks who think they can take other people’s work and "share" it in whatever manner they arrogantly see fit.

    Whether you like the RIAA or the music "industry" or not (I don’t — and don’t buy, trade, sell, or even listen to their crap) you don’t have a right to appropriate another’s work and redistribute it without their permission.

  2. David (jacc) on June 18th, 2009 @ 10:44 pm

    @hashmasterflapface –

    "you don’t have a right to appropriate another’s work and redistribute it without their permission"

    I couldn’t agree more, but several things need to be adressed.

    1) I don’t think she was distributing anything, she (or someone) downloaded for personal use.
    2) I don’t think the crime fits the punishment. When you write a song that can be sold for 9500 per song, let me know. I’ll post the video, with your permission of course.

  3. greg on June 19th, 2009 @ 8:22 am

    The RIAA isn’t going to save itself by sticking to archaic business practices nor suing individuals who download music.

    Considering the popularity of iTunes and today’s prevalent marketing strategy of giving away your hit single via mp3, a court ruling like this doesn’t send a warning message not to download music. It sends a message that the music industry still doesn’t understand we’re in a new environment that requires innovation and creativity to monetize.

  4. David (jacc) on June 19th, 2009 @ 9:39 am

    Greg – The thing that gets me is it’s likely one of her kids did the downloading, she is a mother of four.

    When I was a kid I recorded songs off the radio. I also recorded things with the VHS. I essentially stole copywritten materials for personal use. I think the Internet is to today’s kids what the radio and TV was to us, but more.

    All the RIAA is doing by "sticking to archaic business practices" as you say is they are risking losing a whole new generation of consumer.

    I can tell you, if when I was an 8 year old my parents would have been sued for 1.9 million because I recorded a movie off the t.v. I would not have ever given a single dollar to the movie business or bought a single DVD as an adult; which I have to imagine has been a lot of money over the years.

  5. dar1 on June 19th, 2009 @ 1:55 pm

    Missing the point(s) guys.

    Don’t divide 24 songs by the judgment and get $80,000 a song and cry Unfair! and try to make a serious argument. She was dealing with 1700 songs and they just picked a few for procedural reasons. She wasn’t just consuming the music, she was part of a system that was making them free to millions.

    "Mother of four"? The music guys tried to settle for a few grand, and as far as anybody reasonable can say, this is all like what the IRS does, tries to get in the news with a conviction to keep others from cheating at their taxes. In fact it was the "music must be free" listeners/armchair legal theorists that picked her out for her obvious "sympathy" angle to fight the music people, cause she was a poor mother, etc. Bad luck.

    This is a capitalistic system here in the good ole USA. We work for our stuff. Making product/music/words/pictures/film that is created to make money and putting it out there to be taken breaks the system. All the specious arguments about competing with "free", with "innovative, new marketing models" is malarkey. You can’t compete with free.

    Putting down the RIAA is a straw man argument. Ask 90% of the professional music producers, such as the artists, engineers, writers, publishers and record labels, they are being burnt out by this frictionless piracy. The RIAA just represent the people who make and sell digitized creativity.

    And where is this going to leave us all? Because capitalism isn’t going to quit anytime soon, the mob will meet the rule of the dollar, and despite all the non-creative law professors wishing it weren’t so, we’re going to see drilling down into the ISP’s, bit auditing, whatever, eventually. The almighty buck will prevail and the ISP will be choked, censored and filtered. Balk if you will but that’s what happens when value is stolen from a product with intrinsic value, the market compensates with law and social restrictions. Or else there wouldn’t be locks on Safeway’s front and back doors. In a democracy, you have to pay for the work that somebody does if you take that work for your own purposes. And, as Winston Churchill said, "democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others."

    All this hallucinatory entitlement will be looked back on in 50 years and laughed at.

  6. David (jacc) on June 19th, 2009 @ 3:31 pm

    @dar1 – You make some interesting points, but they’re pretty one sided and unrealistic as well.

    Clearly the industry is changing. I could see this turning into a debate about how copyright laws have been tinkered with or even a debate about price fixing within the industry 18 bucks for a C.D., really?

    I’m pretty sure the music industry would do itself and others a huge favor by keeping downloaded songs at 99 cents and charging 5 bucks per C.D.

    As it stands, I buy most of my C.D.s from Half Priced or Cheapo for that price or less.I count myself in the ever shrinking minority that still pays for music.

    "The music guys tried to settle for a few grand"
    It’s a mystery to me why she didn’t settle.

    "All this hallucinatory entitlement will be looked back on in 50 years and laughed at."

    Isn’t there a saying about laughing last?

  7. Borangutan » Jammie Thomas-Rasset vs. the RIAA (pingback) on June 19th, 2009 @ 3:55 pm

    […] The much maligned RIAA comes to town – Minneapolis Metblogs […]

  8. dar1 on June 19th, 2009 @ 6:50 pm

    Hi David, (jacc)

    Thanks for the response, Yes, there is a saying about "laughing last":

    "He (she) who laughs last, laughs best". And that’s what will happen, and that’s why I specifically mention 50 years, when the dust has long since settled into the history books. See what happened to the French people, below.

    Jammie, the mother of four, didn’t settle for $2-$3K that RIAA was asking, because she was put up to be the Joan of Arc by a mostly Silicon Valley lead establishment that really, really want’s illegal P2P downloads to continue. They needed a sympathetic character to keep the movie going. Unfortunately 24 complete normal Minnesota citizen, twice saw through the movie. The tech world claims that to stop this would be to ruin the Internet. And these are bogus but convincing arguments to people who don’t think too much about what’s really going on. It’s all about numbers.

    About the dollar fine the plain folks of Minnesota gave Jammie: what would you sell the license for, if you wrote a super popular song, to somebody who said, "I want it! And I’d like to license it to give it to 50 million people for free!" $5?

    Anybody know what percent of music on an American iPod is stolen? Try 95%+.

    But, these fundamentally anti-artistic arguments are everywhere. So to deny them is unpopular. Most music fans are encouraged to think piracy can’t be stopped. Throw in a little guilt and a little greed (hard drives with 10,000 tunes) and you’ve got a pretty sweet money making machine for the big tech guys. Ask yourself this: knowing that Apple makes huge profits on the iPods and much less with iTunes, does Steve Jobs make more or less money as piracy increases? We know that answer. Would Steve jobs want music to be digitally protected or to be easy to exchange for free, which would make him the most money?

    After the French Revolution the rabble killed copyright to make art "free". Took about ten years to fix this, then they had to reestablish copyright and the paying of authors cause nobody was writing anything anymore. The music business is down almost by half in 2009, and music has never, ever been so consumed and so popular. This can’t last because it’s an expensive business to sign and record 100 musicians only to find that only 2-3 actually become famous and pay the bills for the other 97 losers.

    So just follow the money. The biggest gainer of all from stealing TV, movies and music has been both the ISPs and the technology establishment. How many Apple/Mac ads do we remember that pushed their silicon, plastic and steel to be used to download and burn "music" (whose?) and you can bet that they didn’t mean the punk band in your aunt’s basement. And, we’re talking billions and billions of dollars going into somebody’s pockets.

    So, most fans/ non professional music lovers have been appealed to by the technology retail world’s silence, as well as the largest ISP’s silence, to keep on "gorging’ at the trough" as U2’s manager humorously called it. ISPs and Intel and Apple and the rest of the technology establishment would suffer greatly if the normal ethics of purchasing something and not stealing was in place today. Because the people that make computers/iPods/fiber optic domestic lines and IS providers all reap mega billions of dollars by keeping us downloading. They need us to think it’s unrealistic" to stop this. Until the golden goose dies.

    So somebody needs you to say what you say, that it’s "unrealistic" to stop illegal piracy. Sell the most plastic, steel and silicon that a company can, and the human beings who make the music can go somewhere else to be paid, i.e., nowhere.

    As the head of Disney said to the head of Intel during hearings about the Jammie’s of the world and what they do to the business, "Andy Grove, please tell me why asking you to help us stop theft is stifling innovation?" That is what is realistic.

  9. David (jacc) on June 19th, 2009 @ 7:03 pm

    @dar1 – Whoa. Essay. Seriously, thanks for the thought.

    I’m going to look into that I hadn’t heard it before, if it’s supported by trustable empirical evidence all I can say is "Whoa."

    "Most music fans are encouraged to think piracy can’t be stopped"
    That’s just the tip of the iceberg The Swedish Pirate Party may be leading a worldwide populist revolt.

    "Andy Grove, please tell me why asking you to help us stop theft is stifling innovation?"

    Because strange as it may seem, you can’t discount the value that theft adds to a product. Think Microsoft, the most stolen software of all time. How is Bill Gates doing?

  10. greg on June 19th, 2009 @ 8:52 pm

    I’m a huge fan of capitalism. To David’s point, this is why people are seeking alternatives when the price of an album ($15-18 bucks/cd) is too high. So while I don’t think music should be free or condone stealing copyrighted materials, I wish the RIAA would spend more innovating and less time litigating.

    Wait – I’ve got it. The RIAA should ask Obama for a bailout. It’s working for other companies who have an ancient, failed business model they don’t want to change.

  11. dar1 on June 20th, 2009 @ 1:58 am

    Hey, everybody in capitalism is seeking an alternative to paying. Just like you.

    But free is a bit too far when it’s illegal. "Seeking alternatives", does that mean that theft is "seeking alternatives"? No kidding, is that your alternative? Or do you suggest music be sold for $5 an album – much fairer! – while anybody can download it for free?

    Is a business model a failed one, when a new technology allows stealing in the privacy of the bedroom? Nope, the wheels of money and the law turn slowly but they will get there. There is no failure of a model, there is only a social issue, hyped and promoted by the hardware sellers, one which will be fixed, inevitably and probably (for the lovers of "net neutrality") harshly.

    About the figure of 95% of music on iPods being illegal. First, ask around. Most people I talk to have many, many songs on their iPods, thousands of tunes on their iPods, of which. when I ask, about less than one or two hundred or so are bought and paid for. In the UK I have read (which download about 20% less per capita (according to Big Champagne, the web metrics company) 95% of downloads are illegal and the same or a higher percent is true in the US.,news-3315.html

    We’re quibbling here. 90% 85%, 95%, whatever. The market is flooded with illegally gotten movies and music. \

    The world is going music crazy, and in the chaos, it’s every man for himself, until caught.

    And why is this?

    Like I said, ask yourself, who stands to profit from all this?

    Give an answer here: does Steve Jobs care whether or not each year there are more and more people that are excitingly downloading free MP3s that they need and are anxious to play on his iPods?

    Let the answer sink in.

    The tech guys are in a face off with the creative art guys. And the drama will be stark when, because of the implicit encouragement of piracy, the dark heart of capitalism says "enough, Steve", "enough Andy", "enough Google" (YouTube), enough .

  12. dar1 on June 20th, 2009 @ 2:26 am

    BTW David (jacc)

    Theft adds to a product? Yes, if you are an unknown.

    So, are you kidding that ripping off multibillionare Bill Gates helps his sales or income?

    If that was so, then Firefox or Opera would be on 75% of the world’s computers, not the other way around.

    Stealing rarely helps a real artist, or something with real established value (Windows, Dave Matthews, etc.) but it does help the completly unknown band for ten minutes until they get famous – and then it hurts them.

    Like had as it’s very funny headline: "Akron Ohio Rock Band Has Vistor to Web Site!". Sure unknowns benefit greatly from free web sharing. But not the developed ones.

    Radiohead has announced that they wouldn’t do the "pick your price" thing for their music ever again. Even after the album was available for one little cent, people would go to BitTorrent and grab In Rainbows for free, just because they could. The majority of people who downloaded the record got it for free, cause they could, just like you and most people would probably do.

    Of course the web and P2P is awesome for people, especially unknowns, unknown bands, unknown artists, etc, that desire, that hope for, that want to blow up their stuff for free to get known. That’s a very cool usage for the Web and should be respected as such.

    That’s not what’s wrong in the picture. It’s the taking against the will of the artists that’s wrong. Everybody knows this, the historian will have a field day in a couple of decades looking back at this time we’re in.

    I’m going to bail on this dialogue. If what I mention is real, then it doesn’t need to be elaborated on anymore, put it out of your mind. It will come back if it’s the truth.

  13. David (jacc) on June 20th, 2009 @ 11:35 am

    @dar1 – "We’re quibbling here"

    I hope not. I have a genuine curiosity and from my perspective we’re having a decent conversation.

    "I’m going to bail on this dialogue"
    Even though I don’t agree with everything you say I appreciate your input and point of view.

    Thanks for joining the conversation!

  14. dar1 on June 20th, 2009 @ 10:39 pm

    Thanks David (jacc)

    I was pretty tired when I wrote the last thing. But… since you’re a reasonable guy…

    Please, before your repeat what you’re told about the web, and content, and copyright and all the rest of the battle that’s going on, follow the money: Is there any incentive to the hardware and online guys to protect the creative arts? No, and they don’t, and they won’t, until things have gotten much worse, and there is legislation, and ISP scanning, and a lot worse. All of Obama’s Dept of Justice lawyers are "Content" friendly, and there’s about to be a war on this stuff.

    Here’s another one of those "whoas!"

    The percentage of stolen tracks on iPods is higher in the US, BTW. These tech guys could make a paradise of cheap, available, legally paid downloads, including free stuff from the young bands, but they are dencentiviced to do it, so they won’t. They are corrupted by the enormous amount of money they and Google and the ISPs are making by middling the stolen stuff or making hot-selling computers and players for stolen music.

    It’s kinda like the matrix, what we think we know we don’t really know. ;-)

  15. David (jacc) on June 20th, 2009 @ 11:03 pm

    "since you’re a reasonable guy…"

    A rare accusation.

    "All of Obama’s Dept of Justice lawyers are "Content" friendly, and there’s about to be a war on this stuff"

    We’ll see, but this case was started under Decider W and the way the RIAA has been able to dog and pony show the legal system at whim for the last several years has been a comical disgrace.

  16. dar1 on June 23rd, 2009 @ 12:55 am

    RIAA, dog and pony show the legal system. Propaganda, and I’ll explain why you would believe that>

    When I say there will be a war on piracy, a "War on this stuff" it doesn’t refer to Jammie, or any individual, but the general trend towards mass appropriated content, piracy as a whole. RIAA is a tiny organization that couldn’t "dog and pony show" most of the giant corporations out there that really control the law (and, think you’ve got the wrong cliche there, don’t you mean "rig"?). Everybody knows that "W" was all laissez-faire towards piracy, that helps big business. the Bush years were all unregulation that benefited the giant corporations. Obama is down with protection of human content. That whole Bush 8-year administration was intent on protecting big business.

    It’s confusing to the average person, what’s going on, and it’s paradoxical (and stone ironic), really Matrix stuff, that the very biggest most monster sized businesses for some years have been implicitly propagandizing to the little guy, the student, the consumer on the street, the idea that the smaller businesses (Records labels) are the baddies, cause by doing so they can continue make the billions off of other peoples works.

    Fact: the record business is total/total about $7 Bil a year gross sales. Seems big numbers, right? But…

    Apple – alone – makes more than $7 billion a every three months! All, every one of those evil nasty record labels (Elektra, Columbia, Atlantic, RCA, Universal and all the little indies getting ripped off too) are less than 25% percent the size of a just one computer company that derives a giant percentage of it’s usefulness playing the music that’s derived by piracy. Add in Intel, Microsoft, Dell, all the Billion dollar Internet Service Providers, AT&T, Comcast, etc, you’ve got a music business that’s less than 2% of those giants. Who is the hero here? Who is the villan?

    So Obama hired a bunch of copyright type lawyer to try to get this fixed, nothing involves "W" – that day is over, besides, W would love the monster corporations (Enron? AIG?) to go unregulated if it meant the biggest ones were making fortunes – until something finally breaks, which it has done. Now it’s Obama’s time to do right.

    Don’t believe that? Check out this ISP (the biggest companies such as Comsat and AT&T) oriented web site, where they talk about Obama’s lawyers and how they are cracking down, this is nothing that "W" would ever, do. He has never protected the underdog in business. Is Obama known for being stupid, or unfair?

    It’s the Matrix out there, I’m not kidding. Read on, and see where this goes.

  17. thebats on June 23rd, 2009 @ 6:04 pm

    Hello all.

    Some very interesting, and informative, points are being raised here. Many thanks to the passer by who pointed us in this direction – much appreciated.

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