RIAA's $1.92 million victory: more about message, less about money

The Recording Industry Association of America won a big one yesterday - a $1.92 million judgment against a woman charged with copyright infringement.

The Recording Industry Association of America won a big one yesterday - a $1.92 million judgment against a woman charged with copyright infringement. But you won't hear champagne bottles popping open in Hollywood.

Is anyone really a winner here? Does the RIAA expect to see a single nickel of the judgment for copyright infringement? Does anyone think that such a judgment will turn back the hands of time and send music lovers back to CDs from Tower Records?

Also see: Wow! Jury verdict in Capitol v Thomas-Rasset: $2 million

The buzz this morning is that the judgment - which amounted to $80,000 for each of the 24 songs that the woman was accused of sharing over the Internet - is excessive. And, on the surface, it looks like the woman, named Jammie Thomas-Rasset, is nothing more than a victim of an overzealous recording industry looking to make an example of a music downloader.

After all, that's what this is about, right? The recording industry is sending a message about the willful and unlawful sharing of copyrighted music, a message that's likely cost far more than $1.92 million in legal fees over the years.

It may have been a message that was meant to resonate with everyday folks who are using their home computers to share music over the Internet. But Thomas-Rasset isn't your ordinary victim here either. Her case was reportedly full of holes and, in recent days, information surfaced to suggest that she was being less the truthful about her innocence, including revelations that she had her computer hard drive replaced. Some have even suggested that the large judgment was imposed by the jury because they suspected that Thomas-Rasset had lied during the court proceedings.

According to a post on Ars Technica, the woman gasped aloud in court when the judgment was read but later said of the settlement money: "Good luck trying to get it from me... it's like squeezing blood from a turnip."

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