Skip to comments.Record Companies Win Music Sharing Trial
Posted on 10/04/2007 9:44:30 PM PDT by janetjanet998
DULUTH, Minn. (AP) -- The recording industry won a key fight Thursday against illegal music downloading when a federal jury ordered a Minnesota woman to pay $222,000 for sharing copyrighted music online.
The jury ordered Jammie Thomas, 30, to pay the six record companies that sued her $9,250 for each of 24 songs they focused on in the case. They had alleged she shared 1,702 songs online in violation of their copyrights.
"She was in tears. She's devastated," Thomas' attorney, Brian Toder, told The Associated Press. "This is a girl that lives from paycheck to paycheck, and now all of a sudden she could get a quarter of her paycheck garnished for the rest of her life."
Richard Gabriel, the lead attorney for the music companies, said, "This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK."
He said no decision had yet been made about what the record companies would do, if anything, to pursue collecting the money from Thomas.
Toder said the plaintiff's attorney fees are automatically awarded in such judgments under copyright law, meaning Thomas could actually owe as much as a half-million dollars. However, he said he suspected the record companies "will probably be people we can deal with."
Jurors left without commenting.
In the first such lawsuit to go to trial, the record companies accused Thomas of downloading the songs without permission and offering them online through a Kazaa file-sharing account. Thomas denied wrongdoing and testified that she didn't have a Kazaa account.
Record companies have filed some 26,000 lawsuits since 2003 over file-sharing, which has hurt sales because it allows people to get music for free instead of paying for recordings in stores. Many other defendants have settled by paying the companies a few thousand dollars.
The RIAA says the lawsuits have mitigated illegal sharing, even though music file-sharing is rising overall. The group says the number of households that have used file-sharing programs to download music has risen from 6.9 million monthly in April 2003, before the lawsuits began, to 7.8 million in March 2007.
During the three-day trial, the record companies presented evidence they said showed the copyrighted songs were offered by a Kazaa user under the name "tereastarr." Their witnesses, including officials from an Internet provider and a security firm, testified that the Internet address used by "tereastarr" belonged to Thomas.
Toder said in his closing that the companies never proved "Jammie Thomas, a human being, got on her keyboard and sent out these things."
"We don't know what happened," Toder told jurors. "All we know is that Jammie Thomas didn't do this."
Gabriel called that defense "misdirection, red herrings, smoke and mirrors."
He told jurors a verdict against Thomas would send a message to other illegal downloaders.
"I only ask that you consider that the need for deterrence here is great," he said.
Copyright law sets a damage range of $750 to $30,000 per infringement, or up to $150,000 if the violation was "willful." Jurors ruled that Thomas' infringement was willful but awarded damages of $9,250 per song; Gabriel said they did not explain to attorneys afterward how they reached that amount.
Thomas, of Brainerd, works for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe's Department of Natural Resources.
Before the verdict, an official with an industry trade group said he was surprised it had taken so long for one of the industry's lawsuits against individual downloaders to come to trial.
Illegal downloads have "become business as usual, nobody really thinks about it," said Cary Sherman, president of the Recording Industry Association of America, which coordinates the lawsuits. "This case has put it back in the news. Win or lose, people will understand that we are out there trying to protect our rights."
Thomas' testimony was complicated by the fact that she had replaced her computer's hard drive after the sharing was alleged to have taken place -- and later than she said in a deposition before trial.
The hard drive in question was not presented at trial by either party.
Record companies said Thomas was sent an instant message in February 2005, warning her that she was violating copyright law. Her hard drive was replaced the following month, not in 2004, as she said in the deposition.
"I don't think the jury believed my client regarding the events concerning the replacement of the hard drive," Toder said.
The record companies involved in the lawsuit are Sony BMG, Arista Records LLC, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and Warner Bros. Records Inc.
The fact is that most people that download music are NOT going to go out and buy the CD anyway...
I haven’t purchased a cd ever since they started doing this crap years ago, and I used to purchase a few a month to add to my over 1000 cd collection.
These crooks get absolutely ZERO money from me anymore.
I suspect the number of lawsuits filed will increase, and the number of settlement offers to defendants will decrease.
I am going to burn half a dozen CD’s and hand them out to friends. The record industry makes me sick.
This is pretty much the end of the RIAA campaign. Once this gets absorbed by the masses in the US, the first reaction will cause millions more to move into networks that the RIAA (or any organization) can’t monitor.
According to this verdict, one 500GB hard drive full of mp3’s is worth about ONE BILLION DOLLARS.
It gets really preposterous once you think about it like that.
The RIAA is just pissing in the ocean. There is no way they can take millions of people to court. They will just do a few selective prosecutions and ruin some people's lives. Their lawyers will get filty rich.
Maybe everyone needs to start selling used hard drives on e-bay that are coincidentally full of music files. That might outfox ‘em...
The fact is that most people that
download music rob banks are NOT going to go out and buy the CD earn their own money anyway...
There... fixed it for you.
You poor thing, looks like it’s time for you to find a different racket.
Face it, the RIAA business model is dead, nothing can be done to bring it back, adapt or die.
For $9250, you can buy well over nine thousand songs on iTunes, or well over ten thousand off of Yahoo, or a hundred thousand at some of the Russian sites.
I would so love it if an appeals court awarded the music companies damages of $26 for the illegally shared songs, and stuck the sharer with the attorney costs. Because, at this moment, the RIAA’s position is that there is no legal manner of copying a CD; ripping it and putting it on your music player, is, in their minds, illegal, and if it holds at this value, everyone’s got a hundred-fifty thousand dollar liability for each CD they rip to their iPod or the like.
I understand protecting rights, but if someone walks into my store, and physically takes a CD out of it, the maximum civil liability I can get out of the shoplifter is the CD itself. Why is virtual theft so much more highly valued?
Even if you oppose file-sharing, this is moronic. In this case, we’re talking about something like thirty dollars worth of music. This is absurd.
you really have no clue...how old are you 85?
But on what planet are stolen songs worth $9,200 apiece? Something tells me the jurors in this case are all about to take “vacations” to Switzerland.
I am 45 and I am an artist. You steal my stuff, I can come after you. I have the law on my side. What do you have? You got a bucket of spit. This moronic woman could have settled for a few thousand bucks. But, no. She had to fight it in court. Nice move, chump. Pay up.
“I understand protecting rights, but if someone walks into my store, and physically takes a CD out of it, the maximum civil liability I can get out of the shoplifter is the CD itself. Why is virtual theft so much more highly valued?”
Because those were fines for breaking the law 1702 times, the number of alleged violations. People get fined for speeding and other offenses when no one at all was harmed. And I’m not so sure about shoplifting laws, but each state could have slightly differently laws and fines could be assessed by the states.
example...if they are having a 70's party and want some 70's music they are not going to go out of buy $800 worth of CD's....
You are killing yourself. I, and many others of us out there, have not bought a single CD since the RIAA began strong-arming people. Music industry types need to realize that we music purchasers are disgusted with them. These sorts of actions only remind us of just how disgusting they are. I am done with music and do not intend to ever purchase another CD.
I will just go to offshore file servers.....like ‘all of MP3.com’....
Chase me around then big talker.....
I will never pay American record companies for music again in my lifetime.....
And you corporate scammers will have no recourse......
Enjoy making your buggy whips....
The greedy record companies have stolen more from artists than downloaders ever could.....
There are a total of 4,294,967,296 IPv4 addresses. The RIAA and associated royalties organizations will never have bought control and legal standing over enough of the network to stop filesharing. The only way to return to the good old days was recently demonstrated, the Burmese junta closed down all internet communications in Burma.
Dell.com is now shipping sub-$700 PCs with over a terrabyte of hdd space. Consumers need content to fill that space. Within a year or two the point will be moot, torrent traffic will make up 90%+ of all internet traffic.
you sound like the LA times and other media sueing FR...we are not going to go to their website or order their paper..if it’s posted here we will read it...
Great, cupcake. When I find out what you do, I’ll come boycott it, I promise. Or worse, I’ll steal it and give it away to thieving ingrates, like you do. Now, listen carefully, when I get around to having meaning conversations with THIEVES, I’ll be sure to give you a call, thief. See you at your slushie machine gig at the 7-11, which I will boycott.
“Excuse the heck out of me, but you guys sound like the Kos Kids whining over oil company profits. The woman is a convicted THIEF, the judge chose to give her a penalty for EACH of her offenses. If you like the music, buy the music. If you dont like the music, or think it is too expensive, keep your money. I did not know that I had thrown in with thief sympathizers. How would you all feel if I stole something from you, just because I could? Some of us ARE in the music biz, and these damned file sharing sites are KILLING us, understand me? Which is a damn shame because there are LAWS that supposedly protect us, and FOR ONCE they are being enforced. If you all would steal music, what ELSE would you steal? Answer me that one, you pile of crooks!”
I work in the music industry, and everyone I know who’s a musician pretty much doesnt care, because they don’t make squat from record sales anyway, and NONE of the money received by the RIAA has made it into musicians hands. Don’t even get me started. I know of a lot of bands who are looking into releasing music separate from the RIAA/big label stranglehold that exists today - look at Radiohead, they just put their album online, and you pay what you want- if at all.
Most artists these days realize there is NO money in record sales, and not just because of file sharing, mostly it’s because of the 97/3% split they have to sign to when they deal with a label, and their real income source is touring and merchandise and publishing. Most artists know that the RIAA is not suing for them, they’re suing for large conglomerates who want to charge you every time you hear a musical note. Artists realize an album is a marketing tool to sell tickets and t-shirts. More and more bands I know and work with DO NOT WANT to be signed to RIAA member labels, period, because they know it’s essentially indebted servitude.
The big label’s are pretty much killing the golden goose. I don’t care so much about the fate of the woman involved, but I do have SERIOUS issues with some of the failures in due process that occured in this case, I am VERY concerned with the case law it will be used to establish, and I am INFURIATED by the comments by the Sony CEO that ripping a cd I bought legally to my iPod is *stealing*. INFURIATED.
It’s just effing music. I don’t want nor need a law book thrown in the bag when I buy a cd, nor do i need to surrender my civil rights because the RIAA - who are scumbags anyway - THINK I’ might have shared music - and then possibly get steamrolled like this woman was. They did NOT prove she had done what they claimed. Granted, her case was shaky at best, but we all are guaranteed due process, it is not lost when the RIAA comes knocking.
And one important point - she was not sued for *stealing* a damed thing. She was sued for SHARING her music. Her ownership was never at question, and was not an issue in this case, and it’s a very important distinction. This was a case of copyright infringement, and thus a civil matter, NOT theft, which is a criminal matter.
If you want to see real thieves, read a major lable record contract. I have, from Geffen, Atlantic, and Warner Brothers. Talk to the musicians I know who have lost rights and income to the bloodsuckers at the major labels.
Having said all that, anyone who uses file sharing apps, be it Napster, or bit-torrent, or whatever, is stupid beyond comprehension until this greedy insanity ends.
I know, however, after hearing the idiotic statements from that moron from Sony, that I won’t be buying ANYTHING Sony, ever again, or as long as she and the rest of her ilk still work there. That goes beyond this case, I have had it with the likes of Sony accusing me of stealing anything. I am also done buying anything from the members of the RIAA, and I will not work with them anymore in my career. That’s how strongly i feel that they are making a huge mistake and are completely out of control, and i won’t take their blood money for my hard work. I’m writing letters to all of the ceo’s of the RIAA member companies, telling them I’m not ever buying a product from them ever again, as it’s too risky to be their customer now, nor willI work with them. I will also tell the bands they represent the same, and why.
I’m going to be taking a huge hit to my career by walking away from anything to do with the scumbags at the RIAA, but this is now MY principles. Rant all you want about thieves, but i know the real thieves here, and I won’t waste my time or talent with them anymore.
I used to love the music industry, and still do, when it comes to the people who actually do the work - the performers, the technical folk, and some managers. The rest? Eff ‘em. I’m sick to my stomach at this garbage, and I’m done with it, and them.
The ridiculous justifications people use to try and justify their stealing can be pretty hilarious. Wouldn’t have bought it anyway, the RIAA are scumbags, the music industry is corrupt, therefore..
I’m justified in being a thief. Pathetic.
And I realize it has damaged the music industry greatly.
you better not post any stories on FR then....thief
“And one important point - she was not sued for *stealing* a damed thing. She was sued for SHARING her music.”
She was sued for illegal downloading and illegal sharing copyrighted music.
And I’m not sure “sharing” is a term found in the law, even though it’s in this article. It might well be termed copyright infringement. But if she was “sharing” it was illegal “sharing”.
“I am 45 and I am an artist. You steal my stuff, I can come after you. I have the law on my side. What do you have? You got a bucket of spit. This moronic woman could have settled for a few thousand bucks. But, no. She had to fight it in court. Nice move, chump. Pay up.”
You might be 45, but you don’t know what the #$@# you’re talking about.
She was not sued for stealing a damned thing.
I’ll repeat that.
She was not sued for stealing a damned thing.
She was sued in a civil matter over copyright violations for allegedly SHARING music.
There’s an important distinctuion there.
If you are signed to a major label, you have no grounds to go after anyone, Sparky, because the material will be released under the label’s copyright, not yours. This is the foundation of everything the RIAA does, without it, they would have no standing to be doing what they are.
How long have you been in the business?
Looks like the bucket of spit is in your hands, there, Sparky, you might want to go research the matter a little harder.
I don’t promote file sharing, but the issue could be dealt with in much better ways than the RIAA is pursuing, and it will be their undoing, eventually. You can rant and insult and accuse all you want, but some of us IN THE INDUSTRY are very concerned, not for the people sharing music, but for the bigger picture.
But you go ahead and rant and rave and alienate your audience all you want - far bigger careers have been lost for far less. Your career is your own, tread lightly. Champion the RIAA all you want, but I won’t buy anything they have to sell ever again, as long as this is their business model, and that includes whatever material you allegedly have to offer. Sorry, but I have these nagging things called principles.
well then..i guess you’ll just pop a blood vessel when people start using the anonymous, p2p, sharing networks... no real way to track it.
i guess maybe, just maybe, people are tired of crappy music being held for ransom for $15-20 per CD... which cost at most $100k to create/distribute and $0.20/CD to replicate
basically, the music industry needs to find a better business model. of course, one has already been found... and its the RIAAs job to keep it from coming into its full potential.
personally, i haven’t bothered to obtain music in any form since the late 90s. (and i’ve radically dropped my movie attendance... from 40+/year in the 90s to less then 10/year now)
the entertainment industry really needs to stop crying in their over priced soup and start making better product
“you better not post any stories on FR then....thief”
A fairly typical and vacuous one-liner. Care to put some meaning to your ramblings?
I illegally copied the AP story and illegally shared it with you...
you knowing it was illegal just read it..
and we have just cost yahoo/AP fractions of pennies in ad revenue
“She was sued in a civil matter over copyright violations for allegedly SHARING music.”
Actually, I think she was sued for copyright infringement for having illegally downloaded and illegally distributed copyrighted music.
Do you think “sharing” is a term used in the code?
Semantics. I’ll come steal your car and call it “borrowing”. Would that make it OK? The convict made it possible for thousands/millions to STEAL the music. Call it what you wish, it is, yes, copyright infringement, and yes, that is NOT legal, and yes, if you want to test your luck over something as dumb as this, when it is possible to pay next to nothing for the music you love on line, go ahead. Now, if you want to change the law, go ahead. Meanwhile, I can sue your tail in to penury if I catch you, and yes, I am looking all the time. This is just normal business, welcome to Capitalism. (I thought there were Capitalists on this site...) Now, I am not looking for the kid in the basement, I am looking for precisely what this woman did. She is just the first of many coming cases, let’s see how many of you chime in after a few dozen of your butts are sitting in jail, with the rest of the...
And one important point - she was not sued for *stealing* a damed thing. She was sued for SHARING her music.
“She was sued for illegal downloading and illegal sharing copyrighted music.
And Im not sure sharing is a term found in the law, even though its in this article. It might well be termed copyright infringement. But if she was sharing it was illegal sharing.”
I havent seen anything in the case documents to indicate she was sued for downloading, she was sued because the RIAA or their agents found the material available (ie “shared) at her IP address. This case was not to determine theft, nor is the RIAA claiming theft.
Sure is. She thought she could steal without consequence.
Trying to see how silly you can be? Reading on the internet makes one a thief?
Whatever, I’m not clear just what is or isn’t a copyright violation on the internet. They put the articles out there and know they will be read and linked. And they do want traffic. Not sure about copying entire articles to other sites. But since all I do is read columns I’m not worried about it.
But if it is illegal, FR might have an issue with you.
do you know how file sharing works? What this woman did was very minor(28 songs)
They are if you distribute them to other thieves who download them from your archives.
Spoken like a true marxist.
sort of like how people that download music sometimes like what they hear and actually go out and buy the artists enire CD which most of the time has better sound quality
I expect if he decided to write books, you thieves would just xerox/scan them and share them with your communist buddies.
” This case was not to determine theft, nor is the RIAA claiming theft.”
As a legal technicality that’s probably correct. But there are many words for theft, or at least what most non-attorney people would consider to be theft: burglary, embezzlement, misappropriation, forged checks, and many others.
Then invite the attendees to bring their own legally licensed 70s music to the party.
you’re a dweeb....
But what happened to the “I have wireless” defense ? The RIAA needs to understand that they are making enemies by filing these suits.
I have several Enya CD’s. Bought and paid for. However I still assemble my own downloaded CD’s online even though I bought and paid for the original.
"Sharing" is a euphemism for bootlegging, copyright infringement. She got caught doing what the Red Chinese do with our intellectual property.
“sort of like how people that download music sometimes like what they hear and actually go out and buy the artists enire CD which most of the time has better sound quality”
I’ve heard that rationalization many times before. And I’m sure if the downloader does not go out and buy the artist’s entire collection, that they immediately erase what they downloaded.