Jammie Thomas, the Minnesota woman who was recently fined $220,000 for illegal file sharing, is to appeal against her loss.
Interestingly, the woman was convicted for allowing access via Kazaa to shared music files on her PC and not for illegally downloading said music files.
In Spain in the last year or so a precedent was set in a case against a man accused of illegally downloading music. The case was thrown out after the Judge claimed that as long as the defendant was keeping the files for his own use and not sharing them, selling or giving them away, he was not breaking the law.
The way I see it is that we can download to our hearts content, even through peer 2 peer networks such as Kazaa, but we can’t allow others to download them from us.
Of course those that do download music from the internet need a source to feed from, and ultimately that is from shared files. So we appear to have a catch22 situation.
It will be interesting to see whether Jammie Thomas can reverse the original verdict, and what affect it may have on the illegal music download industry, in particular with the P2P networks.
A 30 year-old American woman, Jammie Thomas has become the first person to be taken to court and prosecuted for illegally downloading music via a PC. She has been fined $220,000 (£110,000).
Since 2003 various record companies have filed 26,000 lawsuits over file-sharing, which the music industry has led to a decline in sales. But before now, all cases have been settled out of court. Thomas decided to go to court suggesting she had done nothing wrong. Unfortunately, she lost and because she does not have the money to pay the fine, faces a legal order that would deduct a quarter of her salary until the fine is paid.
She has been ordered to pay the six record companies (Sony, Arista, Interscope Records, UMG, Capitol and Warner Bros) $9,250 (£4,500) for each of 24 songs that were highlighted in the case. She was also accused of illegally sharing 1,702 songs with the peer-to-peer Kazaa software.
Richard Gabriel, lawyer for the music companies, said, “This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK.”
For the past decade the music industry has been concerned with free distribution and downloading of MP3 files on the internet, especially on peer-to-peer sites that share folders among its members. The first many heard of this was when Metallica took Napster to court in 2000 when they discovered that a demo of their song ‘I Disappear’ had been circulating across the Napster network, and eventually turned up being played on radio stations even before its release.
But the major issue facing the global music industry for the past few years has been the debate whether to add locking to MP3 music files with DRM (Digital Rights Management).
Last month, Amazon announced the launch of a digital music store selling DRM-free tracks, allowing customers to play their downloaded music on any device. This move was is in direct competition with Apple, whose iTunes stores is the leading digital music retailer, and includes DRM on all its MP3’s.
DRM is a code that restricts how files can be played and shared. Tracks with DRM can typically only be played on the device that they were first downloaded to.
Other players in the market, such as the American superstore giants, Wal-Mart and Universal Music have used the debate to their advantage by selling DRM-free tracks. With Amazon’s new store, the industry is firmly divided into those selling downloads with DRM and those opposed to DRM.