Jammin' With Jammie: RIAA Wins Its First Court Case
By: Spacelab Research Staff This past week saw the first challenge to one of the RIAA's many lawsuits against suspected file-sharers in a federal courtroom in Duluth, Minnesota.
In one corner there was Jammie Thomas, accused of using KaZaA to download and offer for distribution almost 2000 songs. In the other corner was the tag team of EMI (Capitol Records), Sony BMG (Arista Records) Vivendi SA's UMG (Interscope Records) and Warner Music Group (Warner Bros. Records); they offered that this was copyright infringement based on the premise that offering these files through KaZaA, Jammie was distributing the music and they felt that was illegal.
There are some facts worth noting here before going into the story: the jury was unanimous in its decision, Jammie replaced the hard drive in question with the music stored on it (making forensics impossible), and the actual cost awarded per song is much lower than the standard $150,000 the labels were seeking.
The jury awarded $9,250 per song to the labels seeking damages. The growing concensus by a large part of the media and blogosphere is the net effect of this kind of legal action is worse than the outcome, the long tail if you will. The RIAA has spent enormous amounts of money, time, and resources tracking down the suspected file-sharers, and might actually be receiving an amount that is too high when weighed against the crime they claim was comitted.
Jammie's case came down to 24 songs (out of an original 1,702). The total sum she now has to pay out is $220,000, plus legal fees, and the world is watching as Jammie will be put into a bankruptcy-like situation over 24 songs, without any bad intent on her part. Is the penalty worth the 'crime?'
"It's been very stressful. I have multibillion-dollar corporations with their own economies of scale suing me. All my disposable income went toward this case. I didn't do this, and I refuse to be bullied," said Jammie.
The RIAA has made the claim that SafeNet (their investigative contractor) found 1,702 songs that Jammie had downloaded via the KaZaA file-sharing network. SafeNet claims that Jammie used the screen name "tereastarr," which she has also used as a name in other forms on the Internet.