Saturday, October 06, 2007

RIAA, 1; Individual, 0

As I'm sure people have heard, the first of 26,000 law suits by the RIAA against individuals has come to a jury verdict: RIAA, 1; Individual, 0.

The jury awarded $220,000, or $9250 per song for 24 songs.

Most of the time, the RIAA convinces these individuals to settle, usually for around $3000. Jammie Thomas, this defendant, defended on the ground that the Kazaa account wasn't hers; in fact, that she didn't even have an account. Interestingly, she was convicted of making files available in a shared folder, not of actually copying them.

It's important to remember that other cases, which didn't got to a jury, have come out in favor of the individuals.

Digital Media Wire reported music company CEO Terry McBride as saying, “I bet the RIAA is going ‘yes, yes, yes,’ but I’m like ‘no!’ You can’t sue your fans one day and then ask them to come to a concert the next day. A lot of these copyright lawsuits are done in the name of the artist (by the record labels), but the artists don’t want that (kind of relationship with their fans).”

But I'm not entirely convinced; what does the RIAA have to lose? Do fans really associate the RIAA as the strong arm of their artists? I think the RIAA has taken on an identity of its own, alienated from both fans and artists. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation notes, "Millions have been paid to the RIAA, with no sign that a penny of that money has gone into the pockets of artists."

I think it's possible that the defense lawyers in these cases will eventually start winning, once they figure out the best way to try these cases in front of juries, similar to the turn of the tides in the tobacco litigation suits. From my brief and unscientific perusal of the news, Jammie Thomas has been martyred, and I think that indicates something about public opinion on P2P file sharing.

1 comment:

Lawyerlike said...

Once again, I extend the offer to you to relocate to Canada. We shall welcome you to our land of relaxed copyright laws, capped punitive damages, lack of death penalty, and I haven't even gotten to the lower legal drinking age yet.