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Download songs, get fined $1.9 million

DalbozDalboz Resident Puppy EaterRight behind you...Registered User regular
edited June 2009 in Debate and/or Discourse
http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/06/18/minnesota.music.download.fine/index.html

In short, the woman in question was accused of downloading 24 songs illegally. This was the first case of copyright infringement of its kind to actually go to trial. This was actually the second trial, but the first one (where she was fined $220K) was thrown out and a new trial ordered after an error in the jury instructions. Basically she was fined $80K per song, which totaled to $1.9 million.

So, the question is, what kind of repercussions will this have? Could this embolden the RIAA and other industry organizations to actively pursue people for large sums of cash? Will we be see more cases like this soon?

Dalboz on
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Posts

  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    How the fuck is someone supposed to pay a 1.9 million dollar lawsuit?

    "Ultima Online Pre-Trammel is the perfect example of why libertarians are full of shit."
    - @Ludious
    PA Lets Play Archive - Twitter - Blog (6/15/14)
  • EddieDeanEddieDean Registered User
    edited June 2009
    Surely if you pirate something and get caught, you can get a friend to buy you the CDs and just tell the courts 'well I've had these CDs in my collection for ages, these downloads are backups'.

  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Discussion (ARS)

    More discussion (/.)
    A vigorous defense from Kiwi Camara and Joe Sibley was not enough to sway the jury, which had only to find that a preponderance of the evidence pointed to Thomas-Rasset. The evidence clearly pointed to her machine, even correctly identifying the MAC address of both her cable modem and her computer's Ethernet port. When combined with the facts about her hard drive replacement (and her failure to disclose those facts to the investigators), her "tereastarr" username, and the new theories that she offered yesterday for the first time in more than three years, jurors clearly remained unconvinced by her protestations of innocence.

    Camara suspects that the jury thought Thomas-Rasset was a liar and were "angry about it," thus leading to the $80,000 per-song damages.

    Basically... yeah. As far as the broader consequences go, nobody wins - the defendant is bankrupt and the RIAA can't parade this result because it's transparently excessive.

  • Desert_Eagle25Desert_Eagle25 Registered User
    edited June 2009
    Her response to the outcome of the case was pretty great too.

    Essentially, though not verbatim, she said:

    "I'm a mom with limited means. All they did was attach a $1.9 million tag to my name. They won't see any of it unless I win the jackpot or find an oil well"

  • LegacyLegacy SCP Of The Digital Frontier The Grid(Seattle)Registered User, ClubPA regular
    edited June 2009
    What the hell.

    Can we get the chemicals in. 'Cause anything's better than this.
  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Legacy wrote: »
    What the hell.

    Yeah. This.

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  • HonkHonk Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited June 2009
    Going this far beyond the line only makes you look ridiculous, on the part of the RIAA. It makes you look as ridiculous as some one suing McDonalds for a hundred billion dollars because you got your shirt bloodied after repeatedly stabbing yourself in the eye with a McDonalds drinking straw.

    They're undermining whatever legitimate issue they may originally have had with pirating, "anecdotally fuck with us and we'll destroy your whole life over a $24 issue!". Fuck those guys, may they die in a home fire.

  • NocturneNocturne Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    It's odd that the penalty for stealing 24 songs worth of CDs is nothing compared to this.

    "Downloading songs is the same as stealing, give or take a few million dollars."

  • PaperPrittPaperPritt Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Legacy wrote: »
    What the hell.

  • CervetusCervetus Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Nocturne wrote: »
    It's odd that the penalty for stealing 24 songs worth of CDs is nothing compared to this.

    "Downloading songs is the same as stealing, give or take a few million dollars."

    It's kind of interesting that they want to call it stealing because it has more negative connotations, but want to prosecute it as piracy because they get to sue for so much more.

    The libertarian response to anything is, "Sure, that works fine in practice, but it doesn't fly in theory."
  • HonkHonk Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited June 2009
    $1,900,000 is closer to what you'd get to pay in damages for murdering 30 children in Sweden. I'll just go ahead and equate this to the RIAA thinking that downloading one song is the same as murdering 1.25 children.

  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    The punishment doesn't fit the crime, at all. People steal cars and don't get in this much heat, fuck.

    "Ultima Online Pre-Trammel is the perfect example of why libertarians are full of shit."
    - @Ludious
    PA Lets Play Archive - Twitter - Blog (6/15/14)
  • AroducAroduc regular
    edited June 2009
    I'm interested in how or why they would even come to that amount? The maximum fine for shoplifting is $2000 per item plus a surcharge. If they didn't convict her of running some kind of redistribution ring, how'd it end up forty times that?

    Edit: Okay, beaten to the punch I guess.

  • evilintentevilintent Registered User
    edited June 2009
    What the fuck is their problem? If you don't have a bus/train ticket and get caught, all you have to do is pay the price of the ticket. Hell, some people who are in a hurry just plain don't buy tickets, and pay while en route.

    Why can't the same thing apply to piracy? If you're caught stealing something, you have to pay for it. The "poor artists" then get the money they're supposedly being conned out of.

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  • Rhan9Rhan9 Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    evilintent wrote: »
    What the fuck is their problem? If you don't have a bus/train ticket and get caught, all you have to do is pay the price of the ticket. Hell, some people who are in a hurry just plain don't buy tickets, and pay while en route.

    Why can't the same thing apply to piracy? If you're caught stealing something, you have to pay for it. The "poor artists" then get the money they're supposedly being conned out of.

    But where'd the RIAA et al. get their sweet sweet money?

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  • ronyaronya Arrrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    (I think) based on the argument that it's too hard to catch anybody, so for deterrent effect the fine needs to be really high.

    IANAL, etc. IAN familiar with the case either.

  • -SPI--SPI- Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    So we've all learned a lesson here. If you want to get songs illegally you should steal CDs from a store. Wait, what.

    Actually, what repercussions would you get if you stole someone's ipod? Would they charge you with just taking the device itself or roll the 80k per song into that for all the music you stole too?


    This whole this is absurd.

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  • HonkHonk Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    edited June 2009
    -SPI- wrote: »
    So we've all learned a lesson here. If you want to get songs illegally you should steal CDs from a store. Wait, what.

    Actually, what repercussions would you get if you stole someone's ipod? Would they charge you with just taking the device itself or roll the 80k per song into that for all the music you stole too?


    This whole this is absurd.

    Physically stealing stuff by force appears to be more okay, you wouldn't get fined 2 million for punching someone and taking their iPod/car/yacht.

  • evilintentevilintent Registered User
    edited June 2009
    Rhan9 wrote: »
    evilintent wrote: »
    What the fuck is their problem? If you don't have a bus/train ticket and get caught, all you have to do is pay the price of the ticket. Hell, some people who are in a hurry just plain don't buy tickets, and pay while en route.

    Why can't the same thing apply to piracy? If you're caught stealing something, you have to pay for it. The "poor artists" then get the money they're supposedly being conned out of.

    But where'd the RIAA et al. get their sweet sweet money?

    Erm. From the games/movies/songs from the same studio/director/artist that the person pirating buys because he liked the pirated game/movie/song?

    Seriously.

    What the fucking Hell is their problem?

    6a00d83451c45669e2011571303907970b-.jpg
  • RMS OceanicRMS Oceanic Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Legacy wrote: »
    What the hell?!

    Yeah, totally disproportionate to the offence.

  • Panda4YouPanda4You Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Cervetus wrote: »
    It's kind of interesting that they want to call it stealing because it has more negative connotations, but want to prosecute it as piracy because they get to sue for so much more.
    OTOH this lady had appearantly been running a notoriously bad defense and trying to dispose of evidence. Doesn't change the fact that RIAA, and everyone affiliated, should be eaten by dung beetles though.

    "In this discussion of copyright it's actually appropriate to call it theft:
    This music is being (preemptively) removed from the public domain; it's being stolen from the people."
  • corcorigancorcorigan Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    To be fair to the RIAA, it was the jurors who set the fine level. And it wasn't a fine, she was found liable (assuming that's an actual difference, I'm no lawyer). This was a civil case not a criminal one after all.

    I still think it's a comically ridiculous amount though. Clearly if you're going for copyright infringement, you may as well go for the big time.

    Ad Astra Per Aspera
  • AtomikaAtomika If you gotta PS4 raise both handsRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I guess the logic is not that she should pay $80k for just one song, but for the thousands of times she gave that song to others. It's not the same as stealing a CD; it's the same as stealing a truckload of CDs and giving them to strangers on the street.

    I think there was another case about a year ago like this, wherein the court threw it out because, essentially, downloading songs from others is in no way different (philosophically) from having a friend lend a CD to you to burn.

    It's the "seeders" here that the RIAA is trying to bushwack with ridiculous fines, not the "leechers."


    Somehow I doubt this decision will stand up through an appeal.

  • evilintentevilintent Registered User
    edited June 2009
    I guess the logic is not that she should pay $80k for just one song, but for the thousands of times she gave that song to others. It's not the same as stealing a CD; it's the same as stealing a truckload of CDs and giving them to strangers on the street.

    I think there was another case about a year ago like this, wherein the court threw it out because, essentially, downloading songs from others is in no way different (philosophically) from having a friend lend a CD to you to burn.

    It's the "seeders" here that the RIAA is trying to bushwack with ridiculous fines, not the "leechers."


    Somehow I doubt this decision will stand up through an appeal.

    It's more like you bought a CD, cloned it, and then handed it out. You didn't "steal" 1,000 songs, you "stole" one. And you didn't force anyone to "take" it, so they're just as guilty as you are.

    6a00d83451c45669e2011571303907970b-.jpg
  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    So, on average she uploaded each song 80 000 times? That woman must've had some crazy-ass bandwidth.

  • AtomikaAtomika If you gotta PS4 raise both handsRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    evilintent wrote: »
    It's more like you bought a CD, cloned it, and then handed it out. You didn't "steal" 1,000 songs, you "stole" one. And you didn't force anyone to "take" it, so they're just as guilty as you are.

    So, let's say have 1000 clone CDs in a box on a corner, with a sign posted saying, "Free for everyone." You're trying to argue that you're no more than co-equally guilty as those who take the CDs?


    Look, I used to pirate shit all the time. I don't know a single person who's ever paid for Photoshop. But I don't try to pretend it's something more honorable or less criminal than it is. So shouldn't anyone else.

  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    How does a "Free!" sign equate P2P? Or are we to believe most people who download songs don't know it's illegal?

  • AtomikaAtomika If you gotta PS4 raise both handsRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Glal wrote: »
    How does a "Free!" sign equate P2P? Or are we to believe most people who download songs don't know it's illegal?

    The RIAA doesn't usually go after just people who download. They go after those who allow to be downloaded from. Of course they know it's illegal. But it's also illegal to entrap those doing illegal things. So yes, from a legal perspective, it is more wrong to offer up goods to be taken without proper reimbursement than it is to take them.

  • KyouguKyougu Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Part of me doesn't feel sorry for defendants in these cases because by now we are all aware that downloading songs is illegal, and can come to bite you in the ass. Sure, the chances of it happening to you are small, but that's a risk you to take.

    Nonetheless, judgments like these are mindboggling stupid. I don't think they should just fine them 99 cents for song, since then that would be no detterent at all, but 1.8 million? Fucking christ. It'll be lowered, I'm sure, but still. Lady is pretty much fucked for the rest of her life.

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  • GlalGlal Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Glal wrote: »
    How does a "Free!" sign equate P2P? Or are we to believe most people who download songs don't know it's illegal?
    The RIAA doesn't usually go after just people who download. They go after those who allow to be downloaded from. Of course they know it's illegal. But it's also illegal to entrap those doing illegal things. So yes, from a legal perspective, it is more wrong to offer up goods to be taken without proper reimbursement than it is to take them.
    Not my point. I agree those sharing are more at fault (in theory. In practice most software will automatically share during download), but your analogy pretty much absolved downloaders to make that point.

  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    100 dollar per song + court fees would be the better option IMO.

  • Shazkar ShadowstormShazkar Shadowstorm Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    evilintent wrote: »
    What the fuck is their problem? If you don't have a bus/train ticket and get caught, all you have to do is pay the price of the ticket. Hell, some people who are in a hurry just plain don't buy tickets, and pay while en route.

    Why can't the same thing apply to piracy? If you're caught stealing something, you have to pay for it. The "poor artists" then get the money they're supposedly being conned out of.
    actually fare jumping they usually have a fine in the place i've been to
    like in berlin

    but even then it was like.... not a ridiculous amount

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  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited June 2009
    Henroid wrote: »
    How the fuck is someone supposed to pay a 1.9 million dollar lawsuit?

    The TPB guys wish to know as well.

    And no, they didn't get convicted for running TPB. They got convicted for assisting in the sharing of two dozen songs, nine movies and four games.

  • HenroidHenroid Nobody Nowhere fastRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I'm still wondering what the answer to that question is, by the way. Do they garnish your wages, repossess everything you own, or what? I'll be lucky to make 1.9 million in my lifetime working low-paying jobs.

    "Ultima Online Pre-Trammel is the perfect example of why libertarians are full of shit."
    - @Ludious
    PA Lets Play Archive - Twitter - Blog (6/15/14)
  • AngelHedgieAngelHedgie Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Again, the amount was set by the jury to send a message. And that message is juries really, really, REALLY don't like being lied to. Seriously, this is like one of the first things a good lawyer will tell their client.

    The fact of the matter is that she accepted assistance from counsel with ulterior motives, who then proceeded to try to use her as a testbed for too cute by half legal theories, such as the "MediaSentry isn't a licensed PI in MN, therefore they're violating MN law" theory, which had exactly zero chance of working (seeing as they were in federal court.) And because of that, she didn't get the counsel that she needed.

    It's likely that the RIAA will offer a settlement that is much lower, because, as many of you pointed out, the ruling amount isn't doing them any favors. But the jury came up with that amount, and I'd bet that everyone, including RIAA counsel, was pretty shocked when they announced the amount.

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  • urahonkyurahonky Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I swear there was a thread like this a few years ago...

    I was appalled then, and I'm appalled now. I'm glad the RIAA hasn't changed at all.

  • EchoEcho staring is caring Super Moderator, Moderator mod
    edited June 2009
    And that's why I think trial by jurors is a bloody stupid system and vindictiveness has no place in a court. But that's for another thread.

  • OremLKOremLK Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    I feel that piracy is not too far off morally from thievery--quantitatively, it's not as bad, but qualitatively it's the same type of wrong; meaning that you are causing actual damage for personal gain, just not at a 1:1 ratio. But it makes it really hard to get behind organizations like the RIAA when they're so much more in the wrong than the pirates.

    $1.9M? The fuck? If anything, damages awarded for downloading should not exceed the current market value of a legally licensed copy of the media in question. So, approximately $24. In reality, it seems to me that the actual damages would be considerably less than that, since I seriously doubt any pirate would purchase as much as he "steals".

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  • L|amaL|ama Registered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Is the argument at all that when you torrent things, you have to be uploading them as well as downloading? Or purely for downloading the songs?

  • Alistair HuttonAlistair Hutton Dr EdinburghRegistered User regular
    edited June 2009
    Echo wrote: »
    Henroid wrote: »
    How the fuck is someone supposed to pay a 1.9 million dollar lawsuit?

    The TPB guys wish to know as well.

    And no, they didn't get convicted for running TPB. They got convicted for assisting in the sharing of two dozen songs, nine movies and four games.

    The millionare neo-nazi can probably cover the bill.

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