The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been filing lawsuits against “pirates” (aka music file-sharers) since 2003, but few people have tried to fight them. They sue users for an absurd amount of money for each song that they upload and these people usually have uploaded songs in the 1000s. In fact no case has gone to trial . . . until now. A jury “found Jammie Thomas-Rasset guilty of willfully violating copyright law” – cost: $1.92 million! You read that right, $1,920,000 or $80,000 per song and they convicted her of sharing 24 songs.
Since a jury has finally found a user guilty of “pirating” music on the Internet, precedent has now been set for more lawsuits. Until now, the general practice of the RIAA was to sue people uploading/downloading music for an exorbitant amount of money and settle out of court. The settlements were calculated by figuring out how much money the person (or parents in the case of minors) was worth and sues for that amount of money. People were encouraged to settle because the RIAA has a virtually limitless amount of money to tie the defendants up in court. Since most people do not have the cash to defend themselves against a powerful trade industry association, defendants quickly settle after being sued.
Here’s a list of songs that Thomas-Rasset was charged for pirating. Of course, the RIAA contends that the music is being stolen from the artists on that list. The question becomes: how much money of the $1.92 million is each artist getting? (hint: the answer is none) How do they determine which artist gets more money? Or, Does the RIAA just get to keep the money to sue more music listeners? Does the money go to the Big Four Record Labels?