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Jammie Thomas-Rasset  (Source: wired.com)
The RIAA believes that the court failed to classify Thomas-Rasset's filesharing as a "distribution" under 106(3) of the Copyright Act

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has spent a lot of time and effort trying to nab file sharers in an effort to deter piracy and put more money back into their own pockets. Ironically, the cost of legal fees to go after those who pirate music seems to outweigh what it wins in these cases. Just last month, DailyTech estimated that the RIAA has paid over $3 million in legal fees to sue file sharer Jammie Thomas-Rasset, and now, she may only have to pay the RIAA $54,000 in the end. 

Now, the RIAA is fighting back by appealing the judge's decision to slash the damages award according to Ars Technica. It believes that the court failed to classify Thomas-Rasset's filesharing as a "distribution" under 106(3) of the Copyright Act, and that a small price tag of $54,000 would not prevent others from committing the same act. 

The case is being appealed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, Missouri.

The RIAA's first jury trial with Jammie Thomas-Rasset occurred in 2007, after Thomas-Rasset had shared over 1,700 files on Kazaa 2005. Only 24 of the files were named, including music tracks by AFI, Green Day and Aerosmith. She damages originally came to $222,000, but the case was declared a mistrial since the judge told the jury that "making available" was the same as copyright infringement. 

In 2009, Thomas-Rasset was back in court for another round before the jury. This time, the amount she was ordered to pay rose to $1.92 million, which is $80,000 per song. Shocked and frustrated, all Thomas-Rasset could say was, "Good luck trying to get it, because you can't get blood out of a turnip."

In 2010, the total was cut from 1.92 million to $1.5 million, which is $62,500 per song. Then, the total was cut yet again last month when U.S. District Judge Michael Davis slashed the award from $1.92 million to $54,000, saying that the previous award was "appalling" and disproportionate to the offense. At the same time, he said the new award was still substantial enough to prevent Thomas-Rasset and others from illegally sharing music and other files over the Internet.



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

By mkrech on 8/23/2011 1:37:38 PM , Rating: 2
It amazes me how myopic an industry can be when group think brewed up by an industry organization (that happens to benefit from the industries dysfunction)steers an entire industry into the ditch.

The music industry became so large that it began to view its customers more as crops to be harvested. The concept of producing a product that consumers want and will pay for became lost in the new paradigm of capturing as much revenue from the customers as possible. This was reinforced by the RIAA and now the RIAA has found purpose for itself by moderating the conflict between the industry and its customers while stoking the same conflict.

The entertainment industry (TV, movies, music, games, etc) should seriously consider how it wants to be viewed by its customers. It is not in the industries best interest to be so reviled that customers feel no remorse for stealing their products.

You can be assured that there are players in the industry that recognize these issues. Apple is by no means the most loved company, but it doesn't take much for customers to change their habits for even a marginally better paradigm.

In a nutshell, media companies that follow old industry paradigms will overtaken by new paradigm companies (Apple, Netflix, Hulu, Pandora, Spotify, etc) and the RIAA will fade into irrelevance.




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