A picture may be worth a thousand words. But if those words are a song put on a file-sharing network on the Internet, it’s worth $80,000. That’s what a Minnesota jury found yesterday in a retrial of Jammie Thomas-Rasset. She is to pay a fine of $80,000 for each song she uploaded, including Linkin Park’s ‘One Step Closer’ and Aerosmith’s ‘Cryin.’ Altogether, the jury fined the mother of four children nearly $2 million for uploading 24 songs on the Internet.

The following statement can be attributed to Computer & Communications Industry Association President & CEO Ed Black in response to the damages award in the Recording Industry Association of America’s copyright violation case:

“Our copyright laws are overbroad, being misused and enforced with a zeal out of proportion to common sense.”

“When Sony BMG massively and illegally distributed music CDs containing spyware that compromised individual users’ computer security and infected government and military networks worldwide, the FTC only ordered them in 2007 to reimburse end-users up to $150 for computer damages. Yet when Ms. Thomas shared 24 songs belonging to Sony BMG and other labels on the Internet, she was penalized $80,000 for each single track.

“This isn’t a question about whether file-sharing is wrong — the question is what does this say about our priorities? We’re living in a time when executives can dismantle companies that have become American icons and instead of fines, receive bonuses.

“The application of existing law in this case may have been technically correct, but used to protect the recording industry from losses that could have cost them pennies, with a $1.9 million fine against a music fan.

“Thomas-Rasset could have been anyone. That was the reasoning of the recording companies when they chose to make an example of her four years ago. And it could be any of our children tomorrow. Despite finally diversifying their business models to profit more in other ways, record companies still have the same old tune stuck in their heads when it comes to music sales. Copyright law was created in a different era for different business models. It needs to be reformed.”

 

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