RIAA vs. the rest of us: The same old song

File swapper Jammie Thomas-Rassett lost for a third time against the RIAA. Cringe says move on -- and fix our insane copyright laws

Bet you thought we'd put the RIAA's ugly file swapper witch hunt behind us. Well, guess again. It's back in the news, now that Minnesota's file-swappin' momma Jammie Thomas-Rassett just lost for the third time in her battle against the RIAA.

Amazingly and possibly insanely, she has vowed to fight on. Why, exactly, is not entirely clear. In case you haven't been following this story assiduously over the past three years, here's a quick recap:

[ Get the spin on key tech news that you'll find nowhere else at InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]

In October 2007, Thomas-Rassett was sued by the recording industry for uploading 24 songs to the KaZaa file-sharing service. Her defense was pretty inept (for example, her attorneys claimed someone else accessed KaZaa by hacking into her Wi-Fi network, when she didn't actually own a Wi-Fi router). A jury found her guilty and awarded the record companies $222,000 in damages, or $9,250 per song.

Thomas-Rassett said, I'm not paying, and instead appealed. She was found guilty again by a second jury, who upped the damages to $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song (which is about $79,999 too much to pay for "Bills, Bills, Bills" or "Run, Baby, Run").

Thomas-Rassett said, I'm not paying, and again appealed on the basis that the award was outrageous. A judge agreed, but Thomas was still guilty of violating copyright law, so he knocked the damages down to $54,000.

Apparently, after each trial the record companies offered to settle for $25,000 and an admission of guilt. For them it's not about the money -- they've surely spent tens of millions on attorneys in suing 35,000+ alleged file swappers -- but rather, the example. They don't want people to think they can fight the record labels and win. The music industry wants the world to think it's in the right, and no amount is too much to spend.

But Jammie said, No, I'm not paying, and appealed once more. Earlier this week a jury found her guilty for a third time and assessed damages of $1.5 million, or $62,500 per tune (repeat: $62,499 more than anyone should ever pay for Bryan Adams' "Somebody").

You can guess how Thomas responded to that. Nope, she's not paying. And so it continues.

I'm all for digging in on matters of principle, but at a certain point you gotta cut your losses and move on. Her attorney is fighting the good fight, but does he really see this going to the Supreme Court? It's not like the Supes currently in place are going to rule against multinational cartels like the recording or movie industries. That's not how they roll.

1 2 Page
Mobile Security Insider: iOS vs. Android vs. BlackBerry vs. Windows Phone
Recommended
Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies