By now, the news is bouncing around that a Duluth, Minnesota jury has found that Jammie Thomas, 30, is guilty of copyright infringement.
Thomas' sins, it would seem from the verdict, are downloading too many songs via KaZaA. The 24 downloads contested by big music's Sony BMG, Arista Records LLC, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and Warner Bros. Records Inc. were said by the jury to have been "willful infringement" punishable at $9,250 per song.
When I heard that the judge in this case did not see the need to prove that these songs were actually transferred by Thomas to others, I knew a ruling like this was most likely going to come down.
While you may know me as a defender of copyright- my rants against BitTorrent users being prime examples, can't we all agree that the fine levied is outrageous?
This has all the earmarks of a defendant being so totally outlawyered by out-to-set-an-example fancy attorneys from Big Music, and a starstruck jury buying the whole line.
But $22,0000? GMAFB.
Now here would be a good compromise. If Thomas is so guilty of hurting music, music labels and musicians, have her do some sort of community service helping musicians in her community. Maybe drive poor kids to after-school music classes, something like that?
The best perspective I have been reading so far is by the brilliant Farhad Manjoo of Salon's Machinist blog. (You might remember Farhad for his brilliant investigative work proving that unlike what so many conspiracy theorists maintained after 2004, Ohio was not "stolen."
But as to this debate, Farhad writes:
Earlier I wondered whether a large fine for a young mother would shock lawmakers into realizing the folly of the law. Now I fear that $222,000 may not be large enough.
Sure, it's likely prohibitive for Thomas herself, and its precedent will probably strengthen the RIAA's other cases -- now they can use Thomas as an example of what happens when, instead of settling with the industry, people choose to fight it.
Fight it Jammie. Maybe you can find another lawyer?
You KNOW what's coming next. A poll.