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RIAA victory may lead to defeat

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A woman from Minnesota took the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) to court, for a second time, in a retrial based on the RIAA’s accusation that she had willingly pirated and distributed copyrighted material through the peer-to-peer service Kazaa.  She had 24 songs on the account, and during the first trial, she was slammed with a $220,000 damages ruling in favor of the RIAA.

But the judge gave faulty instructions to the jury in claiming that the RIAA did not have to prove ownership of the material in question.

This lead to the retrial, where the woman believed that she not only would be vindicated, but strike back at the industry for what is believed to be the biggest case of RIAA corporate greed and overreaching scare tactics against its consumers.  Even copyright law experts agree that the RIAA has gone overboard and is in the wrong in several cases, not to mention that public sympathy for their movement to sue users has eroded severely over the years.

The new jury didn’t see it that way, however.

Instead, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a mother of four, was hit with near maximum penalties of $80,000 per song, bringing the total damages to $1.92 million.  Though this would appear to be a court victory for the RIAA, the public response, noted by Reuters, is against it.

The accessibility of music through online resources (and not having to pay for filler songs that make up the majority of most CD’s), users have more freedom to enjoy what they want to listen to without buying what they don’t.  Most Americans can agree that $80,000 per song is excessive, and now there is a renewed interest in anti-copyright activists to lower the damages that can possibly be awarded in these cases, or even modernize copyright laws that essentially provide a legal monopoly to the RIAA for products it doesn’t have a creative interest in or own.

Rob @ June 21, 2009

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