From the Barstool of the Publisher – July 2009

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I don’t give a frog’s fat ass what you personally believe about file sharing and copyright — but the fine that was heaved at Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the first and only file sharing case to go to trial in the United States, is simply despicable and, I think, even more criminal than Thomas’ offense.

I’ve written about her case before but just to recap, Thomas-Rasset was found guilty in 2007 of illegal file sharing on Kazaa. At that time she was smacked with a $222,000 fine from the federal jury. But, a new trial was ordered after a judge claimed he erred in giving jury instructions.

Well, Thomas-Rasset was back in court last week and by the time happy hour on Thursday rolled around, she was found guilty of violating music copyrights and she was ordered to pay an even larger fine than her first ruling — $1.92 million — $80,000 per song — to the recording industry.

Take that in for a second. Eighty grand per song. Eight-zero-zero-zero-zero. I’ve heard some pretty awesomely amazing songs in my day, but never have I heard one that was worth $80,000. Or, think about it this way: Thomas-Rasset could have purchased 80,000 songs from the iTunes store for what they want her to pay for sharing just one of her songs (she was found guilty of sharing 24).

What blows me away — besides the ungodly high and arbitrary penalty — is only one download of her songs was ever shown as evidence in court, and that was a download by a copyright security company. Get that? They never proved that anyone else ever benefited from Thomas-Rasset’s sharing. They simply argued that it was “logical” that other Kazaa users would have downloaded the tracks.

I’m sorry. That’s just retarded. It’s almost as bad as Thomas-Rasset’s defense claiming that maybe someone else, like her ex-husband or kids, downloaded the files.

The case will obviously go through more appeals and be argued all over again, but I and many others still don’t see what the point is of slapping a mother with a fine she’ll never be able to repay. That $1.92 million isn’t going to help the record industry rebound from their claims that P2P sharing is killing their revenues — and I think that ludicrous penalty will do little to deter file sharing simply because it’s so unrealistic. Sue someone for $1.92 million or $192 million, or $1.92. If they’re broke already, they’re already broke and you’re not going to get your money.

Someone needs to come to their senses on this case.

See you at the shows.

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