Stop me if you've heard this one, but: Illegally downloading music files is probably not a good idea. And if you don't believe me, there's a 32-year-old Minnesota mom who might convince you otherwise.
Last week, a second jury convicted Jammie Thomas-Rasset of using her Kazaa account to illegally download 24 songs. The actual number of songs she allegedly snagged is roughly around 1,700, but she got sued for just these 24 little ditties.
[ Brush up on the Jammie Thomas/RIAA case -- through the eyes of Cringely -- in the earlier post "Lawyers, guns, and the RIAA" | Stay up to date on Robert X. Cringely's musings and observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter. ]
The first jury found her guilty and assessed a fine of $222,000, or roughly $9K per tune. Jury No. 2 decided jury No. 1 simply didn't appreciate Vanessa Williams or Journey enough, and upped the ante to nearly $2 million, making those songs worth $80,000 a pop.
I admit, "Don't Stop Believing" does sound better if you haven't heard it for a while, but is it $71,000 better? That's kind of hard to swallow. Reactions from the blogosphere ranged from "insane" to "friggin' insane" to words I am not allowed to repeat here because there might be children present.
First, let us stipulate for the record that the defendant is not the sharpest knife in the drawer. She's more like a spoon, or maybe a plastic spork.
Judging by what I've read of her defense (Ars Technica has served up a lovely summary of the case), Thomas-Rasset's attorneys didn't deny music files were downloaded to her computer. They simply tried to claim the ex-boyfriend did it, or maybe the ex-husband, or maybe gremlins snuck into her house in the middle of the night and logged on to Kazaa using the same online handle she's used for 15 years.