p2pnet news | RIAA News:- Warner Music, EMI, Vivendi Universal and Sony BMG used their RIAA to viciously stomp a Minnesota Ojibwe mother, lining her up for $220,000, a penalty she’ll never be able to meet.
They accused her of depriving them of their rightful dues by sharing music online and a jury of 12, swayed by what’s been described as judge Michael J. Davis’ “entirely erroneous instructions,” found her guilty.
Daniel says in a p2pnet Reader’s Write:
“One aspect of the case that I found interesting that hasn`t been commented on is an equal protection issue. The SC has ruled that punative damages must be in proportion to economic damages or else those punative damages are unconstitutional. By anaology, it seems to me that the economic damages in this case is the $24 and the punative damages are the 220K.
“If so, these damages alone are unconstitutional and using the SC own guidelines should be $240 or so. It seems very odd that when consumers sue corportations they are limited in the punative damages they recover but when corporations sue individuals there is no such limit.
“Not a lawyer, just curious ”
The chances of the finding being overturned on appeal are excellent, but even if that happens, it won’t make much difference to the labels who’ll continue their attacks on their own customers.
One day the Big 4 shareholders will wake up and realise they’re losing money, not minting it as they did in the good old pre-Net days.
And it’s up to us to make sure that happens sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, here’s what the Globe and Mail’s Jack Kapica has to say from Canada >>>
The case of Jammie Thomas, convicted yesterday in the United States of sharing music files, offers us a lot to consider:
1. The Recording Industry Association of America knows it can’t get enough money to offset the losses they think they have suffered, and have argued that they have launched many suits such as the one against Thomas as a deterrent. “This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK,” the lead attorney for the music companies that sued the woman said after the victory.
Ferocious penalties, like the $220,000 awarded to the RIAA yesterday, for an activity described simply as “not OK,” have never been successful. In the 17th and 18th centuries, the English aristocracy, which had a firm grip on the government, started slapping the death penalty on such annoyances as stealing horses or sheep, cutting down trees and being out at night with a blackened face. The law became known as The Bloody Code. Public executions at Tyburn attracted thousands of gawkers. But somehow England was never rid of the thieves, scoundrels and miscreants who did things that were, um, “not OK.” Thus enlightened, England started getting rid of capital offences in 1815, almost two centuries ago.
Compared to public executions, Jammie Thomas’ fine of $220,000 is way down on the discouragement scale. If public executions didn’t work, what hope of deterrence can a fine of $220,000 have?
2. I’m not concerned about Jammie Thomas going bankrupt. The saner elements of the legal profession have rallied to her defence, and will either win on appeal or gather the money from the public to help her out. My bet is she will win on appeal.
3. Chasing individual downloaders is so patently absurd that at some point the owners of the record labels â multinational tycoons who are almost totally insulated from the reality of the music marketplace âmust surely notice the damage this strategy is doing to their recording businesses.
They have a way out while saving face: Declare the strategy of deterrence to have been unsuccessful, and acknowledge that selling compact discs is falling not because of file-sharing, but that CDs are rapidly becoming extinct as a medium for music sales. That’s not a strategy so much as a reality.
4. The judge’s instruction to the jury in the Jammie Thomas case appears to be as seriously flawed as Thomas’ lawyers claim. If Thomas’ lawyers appeal and win, what will the RIAA do then? Continue on its merry litigious way, raking in pennies from paupers as further deterrents?
5. Yes, working for the RIAA and riding Big Music’s gravy train must be nice for the lawyers charged with making people like Jammie Thomas miserable, but at some point surely they have an obligation to recommend their bosses back off. Or is this expecting too much of the legal profession? Or will the record companies’ investors get wise and start applying pressure to the most vulnerable part of the corporate empire: Shareholder value?
Perhaps shareholders are the people who should be made aware of where their investments are going.
Stay tuned. There’s a lot more to come.