Thursday, October 4, 2007

Record Industry win

The recording industry won a landmark case today against illegal music downloading whose repercussions could be felt widely and immediately. The jury ordered thirty-year-old Jammie Thomas to pay the six record companies in the suit a total of $222,000 in damages for sharing copyrighted songs online.

This is the first such lawsuit to go to trial, as previously the industry relied on heavy-handed threatening letters asking for fines of around three thousand dollars, which many defendants paid to avoid costly legal fees. 26,000 other lawsuits are pending, with charges as high as $150,000 per infringement (meaning potentially over a million dollars for an uploaded album, if the prosecution can prove - as they did this time - that the violation was intentional).

It seems Thomas' defense was of the "I didn't do it" variety, which made it easier for her to lose and now easier for record companies to proceed with further blackmail letters and increased lawsuits. They recently made public the fact that the campaign to sue music listeners had (even with all of the paid fines) actually cost them money. But now victorious after their first court battle, one can only expect the industry to become emboldened and for the stakes to be raised.

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