$1.5 Million Fine for Downloading 24 Songs

Friday, November 5, 2010| by Will Chen

Remember the case that started it all? The Capitol v. Thomas (or in actuality the RIAA vs Jammie Thomas-Rasset) have been battleing it out since 2007. She lost that first case to the tune of $220,000. She was granted a new trial due to a technicality in the first trial which resulted in an even worse decision in favor of Capital, $1.9 million in statutory damages. That amount was reduced to $54,000, but the case was appealed. Yet again, the court has ruled in favor of Capital, $1.5 million this time around. Which is about $62,500 for each of the 24 songs she illegally distributed via Kazaa.

I have extremely conflicted feelings about this. On the one hand, the penalty seems incredibly steep. We see blatant copyright infringement on YouTube every day. And then there's the modern challenge to what actually constitutes fair usage in the digital age. And of course the usage of uncleared sampling in the hip hop world is an everyday occurrence. Can the traditional interpretation of copyright be effectively enforced in a digital world? I fear it can not...

Which, as a musician, makes me very sad. I come from the mindset that music is a very valuable thing. It can inspire and motivate in its beauty. It can destroy and maim in its aggression. It pull tears for the most stoic with its sorrow. Certainly there's a emotional value music holds. And the writers and performers of this music (or agents thereof) deserve to be compensated and allowed to control the distribution of their creation.

You can read more about the recent ruling here.

Filed Under: Editorial & Misc