Illegal Music Downloads Bring $1.9 Million Fine
A Minnesota woman has been fined $1.9 million for downloading 24 songs from an Internet file sharing service, CNN reports.
Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s case was the first such copyright infringement case to go to trial in the United States, her attorney said. Attorney Joe Sibley said that his client was shocked at the fine, noting that the price tag on the songs she downloaded was 99 cents. She plans to appeal, he said.
Cara Duckworth, a spokeswoman for the Recording Industry Association of America, said the association was “pleased that the jury agreed with the evidence and found the defendant liable.” “We appreciate the jury’s service and that they take this as seriously as we do,” she said.
Thomas-Rasset downloaded work by artists such as No Doubt, Linkin Park, Gloria Estefan and Sheryl Crow.
This strikes me as excessive by, oh, three orders of magnitude. Gabriel Malor notes that federal law allows fines up to $150,000 per infraction and jokes (I think) that it would have been appropriate given the defendant’s poor taste in music.
But here’s the thing: Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that downloading a song from a pirate site is tantamount to stealing said song. What would the penalty be for stealing, say, three CDs from a record store? Surely, something much less than a $1.9 million fine?
UPDATE: By way of comparison, ostensible OTB contributor Robert Prather shares a Guardian story of a French woman sentenced to eight years in prison, of which she’ll only serve five, for murdering three children.
Photo by Flickr user debagel under Creative Commons license.