Thursday, June 25, 2009

Illegal Music Downloader Finally Takes an "L"

A replay of the nation's only file-sharing case to go to trial has ended with the same result — a Minnesota woman was found to have violated music copyrights and must pay huge damages to the recording industry. A federal jury ruled Thursday that Jammie Thomas-Rasset willfully violated the copyrights on 24 songs, and awarded recording companies $1.92 million, or $80,000 per song.

Thomas-Rasset's second trial actually turned out worse for her. When a different federal jury heard her case in 2007, it hit Thomas-Rasset with a $222,000 judgment. The new trial was ordered after the judge in the case decided he had erred in giving jury instructions.

"There's no way they're ever going to get that," said Thomas-Rasset, a 32-year-old mother of four from the central Minnesota city of Brainerd. "I'm a mom, limited means, so I'm not going to worry about it now."


This ruling is more symbolic than anything. It's pretty clear that this woman doesn't make enough money to pay back the recording companies. I understand why record companies are suing people who download music illegally. Those companies spend millions of dollars to promote their artists. When people download music illegally, record companies and musical artists usually end up in the red. This doesn't mean the record companies aren't at fault. Most of them distribute music that is absolutely horrible. I can only think of 3 or 4 albums that have been released in the last 2 years that were actually worth the money. In the past, record labels would profit immensely from an album released by a one hit wonder. Nowadays, people will download a single from iTunes or simply pirate it from Limewire. I think more people would buy music legally if the quality of the music improved.

I enjoy walking into the music section of a store and buying albums. Unfortunately, I haven't been making many purchases because most of the music these days sucks. Illegal downloading isn't cool, but I understand why some people do it.

Weird Al Yankovic has a song called "Don't Download This Song" that puts a comedic spin on this issue. I think you all will enjoy it.

Once in a while
Maybe you will feel the urge
To break international copyright law
By downloading MP3s
From file sharing sites
Like Morphous or Grokster or Limewire or Kazza