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So How Much Money is a Song Worth Anyways?

Jammie Thomas-Rasset

Jammie Thomas-Rasset

A jury last week determined the decade old question of just how much money a song is worth if it is illegally downloaded.  The jury’s answer:  $80,000 per song.    Jammie Thomas-Rasset was accussed of illegally downloading 1,700 songs through the file sharing program Kazaa, although she was only prosecuted by the Recording Association of America (RIAA) for illegally downloading 24 songs.   Thomas-Rasset alleged that other people in her family may have been responsible for the downloads, she replaced her hard drive because it was broken and not because of illegal downloads that would have been found on it, and that she never received any sort of cease and desist orders despite the plaintiffs producing such evidence that such messages had been delivered.  http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article6534542.ece

The RIAA said that they tried to settle the case with Thomas-Rasset for a sum of $3,000-$5000 but she refused to settle.   Thomas-Rasset was the first person to refuse to pay a fine and challenge the RIAA in court.  The RIAA, however is still willing to settle the case despite winning a $1.92 Million verdict.

The RIAA is taking the high road on this case and doesn’t want to alienate music fans.  By settling the case for a small sum, the RIAA will deter people from infringing on music, but not alienate fans at the same time by looking like some kind of ogre.  The RIAA said they are moving away from suing individuals for infringment and are trying to work out arrangement with internet service providers to take action against infringers.

Ms. Thomas-Rasset was extremely ignorant and misinformed by her lawyers that she had any chance of winning this case.  The evidence was too concrete and stacked against her from the beginning.  When a case can be settled for a couple thousand versus having to potentially pay millions in damages and lawyer fees, it doesn’t make any sense to try the case.  This is why most rational people settle their infringement cases and move on with their lives.

For a play by play analysis of how the trial went down, check out:  http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/06/jury-selected-in-thomas-retrial-shockingly-law-abiding.ars.
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