Tuesday, October 9, 2007

File Sharing Ruling Shows Sharing Isn't Always Caring

An NY Times article reports that a federal district court in Minnesota has fined a woman over $200,000 for sharing files on a music downloading program called Kazaa.

The article reads:

"In a crucial legal victory for record labels and other copyright owners, a federal jury yesterday found a Minnesota woman liable for copyright infringement for sharing music online and imposed a penalty of $222,000 in damages.
The verdict against Jammie Thomas of Brainerd, Minn., brought an end to the first jury trial in the music industry’s protracted effort to rein in piracy with lawsuits against individual computer users. Since 2003, record labels have brought legal action against about 30,000 people, accusing them of trafficking in copyrighted songs.

Many of the people sued in such cases settle out of court for, on average, about $4,000, according to the industry’s trade association. Ms. Thomas chose to face trial instead, saying that she did not share files on the Kazaa network as the labels contended. She and her lawyer declined to comment after leaving the courthouse.

The jury verdict, which called for $9,250 in damages for each of the 24 songs involved in the trial, came after brief deliberations."

The ruling by the federal district court appears to reaffirm jurisprudence laid out in the USSC decision in Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer v. Glotsker, Ltd. (2005). There the Court reasoned that:

"When a widely shared service or product is used to commit infringement, it may be impossible to enforce rights in the protected work effectively against all direct infringers, the only practical alternative being to go against the distributor of the copying device for secondary liability on a theory of contributory or vicarious infringement."

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