The major music companies won a key victory against consumer online piracy on Thursday, when a jury fined Minnesota resident Jammie Thomas $9,250 for each of 24 songs she allegedly shared online.
The case -- Capitol v. Thomas -- is the first time that the more than 20,000 legal actions pursued by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has gone as far as a jury verdict. In the past, the RIAA has settled with students; although in many cases, the music industry has had to defend its own aggressive actions against suspected file sharers.
Despite the judgment, which totals $222,000, the case is not over, said Ray Beckerman, a New York attorney and vocal critic of the RIAA's tactics.
"A verdict of $222,000.00, for infringement of 24 song files worth a total of $23.76?" he said in a blog post. "It is an outrage, and I hope it is a wakeup call to the world that we all need to start supporting the defendants in these cases, and the attorneys who are sacrificing so much to represent them."
In August, the RIAA continued its legal assault on suspected consumers who shared music files, announcing that it had sent 503 pre-litigation letters to students at 58 colleges and universities. The letters attempt to convince students to negotiate a deal with the music industry for less severe penalties. The music industry believes the tactic is working, pointing to data that showed only a modest increase in number of households downloading music from peer-to-peer networks -- 7.8 million in March 2007, compared to 6.9 million in April 2003 -- while pointing out that broadband adoption has more than doubled.
The songs that Thomas allegedly copied included those by Guns N Roses, Linkin Park, and Sheryl Crow, according to Wired News.
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Posted by: Robert Lemos