13 July 2009
IPKat reported a couple of weeks ago about Jammie Thomas-Rasset,
"... the Minnesotan mother who illegally downloaded and shared 24 songs, has been ordered to pay $1.92 million to four major music labels, a sum which works out at $80,000 per track."
The ever clever IPKat goes on to explain how this was possible from a legal perspective,
"... it must be remembered that section 504(c)(2) of the U.S. Copyright Act allows upwards to $150,000 per wilfully infringed work."
It's worth clicking the link, provided by IPKat, through to the US Copyright Act: the link leads to the section of the Act governing remedies for infringement. It begins by saying,
"(a) In General. — Except as otherwise provided by this title, an infringer of copyright is liable for either —
(1) the copyright owner's actual damages and any additional profits of the infringer, as provided by subsection (b); or
(2) statutory damages, as provided by subsection (c)."
Mmmmm. So, why didn't they go for the remedy of "the copyright owner's actual damages" as allowed for by the Act?
Obviously, there were no damages.
Now, you may argue that by downloading the music and or allowing the music to be downloaded, you are denying the copyright holder the retail price of the music.
This argument is a fallacy.
It is predicated upon the assumption that the downloader would have paid for the music if they hadn't downloaded it.
How can this be proven? I don't mean in in a court of law; instead, ask yourself if it stands up to reason?
Of all the people who visit illegal download sites, what proportion of them would buy the music if it wasn't available through illegal download?
It looks to me as though this remedy is an example of throwing out your conscience with your credibility.