RIAA's First Victim to Appeal

Dennis Faas's picture

The defendant found guilty of file-sharing in her case against the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) has decided to appeal. Hey, if you were a single mother facing a $222,000 fine, what would you do?

The decision stems from the story I reported a few days ago, in which one Jammie Thomas was staring down the full weight of the RIAA. Since then, Thomas has been found guilty and ordered to pay the $200,000-plus fine, representing almost ten thousand dollars for each of the 24 songs she illegally downloaded and shared on now-defunct protocol Kazaa. (Source: pcworld.com)

The RIAA represents the whole of the recording industry in legal cases like these. In this instance, the body was speaking on behalf of Capitol Records Inc., Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and Warner Bros. Records Inc.

It's fair to say Thomas, the first file-sharer brought to trial, has been sacrificed for the message it sends to others engaged in similar activity. Her 24 shared songs represents a number so small on the radar that the RIAA can't possibly believe it has advanced its grandiose mission.

That's why Thomas may have a shot through her appeal. In addition, lawyers for the RIAA have only proven that she "made available" songs for download on Kazaa, with no proof (as yet) that anyone actually took advantage. If Thomas' lawyer, Brian Toder, can force the RIAA to make this clearer to a judge, the defendant's chances improve. (Source: news.com)

At the heart of the appeal will be the "made available" concept. Since it's tough to prove anyone is aware that they've made files available for sharing, the appeal decision could have major ramifications.  A sustained guilty judgment would set the RIAA off on a wreckless crusade; it'd be like matching up a prize fighter with the asthmatic kid from algebra.

No fair.

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