backtop


Print 50 comment(s) - last by Samus.. on Jul 26 at 11:48 AM


The ruling continues a proud tradition of the RIAA to blow the media industry's money, writing checks to lawyers and its small staff, while earning little in damages from its legal crusades.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset a Native American mother of four in Minnesota may finally be able to leave the world of lawsuits behind her, after a judge handed her a reduced fine of $54,000 USD for sharing 24 songs.  (Source: joonbug)

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis called the previous $1.5M USD verdict "appalling", "unreasonable", and "oppressive" in his ruling.  (Source: Minnesota Public Radio)
The media industry's crusade against filesharers is a costly one

Even as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) can cheer the facts that the U.S. government has proposed to make illegal streaming a felony, and that major internet service providers in America have agreed to adopt a "six strikes" plan to police users, the organization continues to hemorrhage money in its eternal battle against piracy.

Case and point is the organization’s high profile battle with Jammie Thomas-Rasset [1][2], who endured three trials for sharing (stealing and making available) 24 songs (approximately two CDs worth of music) with defunct peer-to-peer client Kazaa.  In what may be the final chapter in the case U.S. District Judge Michael Davis has slashed the award from an astounding $1.5M USD, to $54,000 USD (of course this has happened before).

Judge Davis called the original award "appalling" and abusive.  He writes [Scribd]:

The Court concludes that an award of $1.5 million for stealing and distributing 24 songs for personal use is appalling. Such an award is so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable.

He says the new award is substantial and still very punitive, writing:

In this particular case, involving a first-time willful, consumer infringer of limited means who committed illegal song file-sharing for her own personal use, an award of $2,250 per song, for a total award of $54,000, is the maximum award consistent with due process.

This reduced award is punitive and substantial. It acts as a potent deterrent.

The ruling is significant as the RIAA hired eight high profile law teams [source; Scribd] (far more than Jammie Thomas-Rasset could afford) to represent it over the course of the three trials.  Assuming at least one full time lawyer, one can draw an estimate from Ms. Thomas-Rasset's lawyer who claimed to be owed $130,000 USD in unpaid legal expenses for the case.

Using a mean estimate of $150,000 per case, per law team, the case likely cost the RIAA close to $3M USD -- 55 times what it would eventually be awarded [Ed. - Note: This is an estimate based on previously published data.  The RIAA has never published, and likely will never publish legal fees in this case, for obvious reasons.].  

That sum isn't unusual, though -- it's roughly with 2.3 percent return on its "investment" the media industry paid between 2006 and 2008 in direct legal fees.

That's not to say the RIAA hasn't been lucrative for some.  While the organization only has 107 employees [source; Scribd], 12 employees made over $200,000 USD in direct salary (and tens of thousands more in other pay) and the organization paid $14M USD, in total to its staff.  

And the good times for RIAA staffers and affiliates weren't merely limited to the healthy pay -- some have ascended to positions of power, such as lawyer Donald B. Verrilli, Jr., who recently became President Barack Obama's solicitor general.  Mr. Verrilli had been one of the lawyers on the RIAA retainer in both the Thomas-Rasset case and the high profile Sony BMG v. Joel Tenenbaum case.

Meanwhile, the recording industry has been on the hook for not only the massive legal fees, sweet salaries -- it's also poured millions it paid in lobbying federal and state politicians to try to push its agenda.

And remember that new "six-strikes" rule?  It still has to pay (much to its chagrin) to collect the list of infringing user IPs.  In short the (perhaps) final ruling in the Capitol v. Thomas case is a fair representation of the state of piracy policing overall -- big media is losing tens of millions of dollars, while the RIAA and its attorney's happily take a fair cut of that money to their bank.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Mandatory prison time is required
By Beenthere on 7/25/2011 11:42:02 AM , Rating: 0
Some folks think if they don't have the means to pay $10,000 per copy for pirating or illegal distribution, then they should get off with a token fine. Punishment is meant to be a deterrent thus mandatory prison time is required to get thru to those in denial about copyright laws.




By jconan on 7/25/2011 12:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
But it sure isn't a deterrent for RIAA, as they seem to be above everyone else. They also have added music from musician to their collections that they aren't authorized. Is RIAA in denial of copyright laws too as it doesn't apply to them?


By Solandri on 7/25/2011 3:03:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Punishment is meant to be a deterrent thus mandatory prison time is required to get thru to those in denial about copyright laws.

Copyright infringement is a civil offense, not a criminal one. There are no prison sentences for violations of civil law, only fines.

Personally, I would actually welcome copyright infringement becoming a criminal offense. That would raise the standard for guilt from "a preponderance of the evidence" to "beyond a reasonable doubt", which would pretty much invalidate every case based solely on an IP address.

The RIAA however is trying to have their cake and eat it too. They've been trying to get laws passed which will add prison time to copyright infringement, while keeping it a civil offense (so they benefit from the lower standard of proof). If they get such laws passed, the courts will surely invalidate them as unconstitutional (deprivation of life and liberty for a non-criminal offense). But for people charged under it, it'll be a hellish few years while the case winds its way through the courts.


RE: Mandatory prison time is required
By mindless1 on 7/25/2011 3:40:11 PM , Rating: 2
There is so much logically wrong with your post that I don't know where to start.

1) It's not what folks who do something you dislike, "think" that matters, nor what you think, it's what is considered JUST and appropriate compensation for losses. This is a civil matter.

2) There is nothing to support $10,000 per copy as an appropriate figure, there is no data whatsoever that suggests losses of $10K per copy shared.

3) There is nothing to suggest a fine appropriate to the value of or lost revenue from the sale of what was shared, is "token". Quite the contrary. A "token" level of fine would be one less than the $1 it costs to download a track from a music 'site.

4) Civil law is about compensation not punishment. You cannot excessively punish one person for the acts of many and consider it just, nor a deterrent when obviously it has not deterred it has only oppressed an individual no more guilty than millions of other people doing similar things.

5) If we imprison everyone who breaks laws that have only a minor effect on society, soon there is nobody left to pay the tax money it would cost to house everyone else who is in prison. Your ideals are simply impossible to implement so there is no point in considering them further.

6) There is no denial about anything, civil disobedience has been around for quite a while in mankind's history.

7) Punishment must attempt to serve a useful end. There is nothing useful coming out of oppressing a select few for the actions of many. It's madness, like squatting one mosquito that bit you and thinking "there, I sure showed the entire mosquito population not to bite anyone ever again".


By Farfignewton on 7/25/2011 5:29:23 PM , Rating: 2
*Posted to cancel unintended down-rating*

Woops.


"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki