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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Fined a huge amount for downloading songs

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been fighting a battle against people indulging in music-sharing across the internet. For the past many years, the music industry has seen a reduction in the number of music sales through the physical medium (CD's, DVD's, etc.) and this reduction is being blamed on the amount of file swapping that happens (file swapping gained prominence with Napster, and when the RIAA shut down Napster through a court case, other, more difficult to control file sharing methods such as P2P and torrents have gained prominence).
The music industry and the RIAA have been fighting against these, although fighting against a much widely dispersed enemy in the form of torrent sites and servers is more difficult. The music industry also started attacking the actual users, getting their details from ISP's, and then serving them notices with huge amounts of damages. The RIAA also had some hugely embarrassing mistakes, suffering from targeting people such as single mothers, children, and so on, all of which were huge Public Relations disasters. In some cases, they have successes, with people settling with the RIAA out of court. However, in another case, they have won huge damages (link to articles):

A federal jury Thursday found a 32-year-old Minnesota woman guilty of illegally downloading music from the Internet and fined her $80,000 each -- a total of $1.9 million -- for 24 songs. Jammie Thomas-Rasset's case was the first such copyright infringement case to go to trial in the United States, her attorney said. Attorney Joe Sibley said that his client was shocked at fine, noting that the price tag on the songs she downloaded was 99 cents.
This was the second trial for Thomas-Rasset. The judge ordered a retrial in 2007 after there was an error in the wording of jury instructions. The fines jumped considerably from the first trial, which granted just $220,000 to the recording companies.

Not sure about whether this will be a success, given that the accused is a single mother who works for an Indian tribe. Also, the RIAA has mostly given up fighting these cases, so this would be one of the few such cases that are still existing.

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