I almost fell out of my chair today at work while I was culling the news for today and found that Jammie Thomas was ordered to pay $1.92 million to the Recording Industry *ahems* of America.
For those of you who haven’t been following the story, Thomas is a Minnesota mother who was one of the many lucky people the RIAA has targeted in illegal filesharing lawsuits. Thomas was one of the few not to settle out of court and stand up to the RIAA.
Thomas lost a previous case and was ordered to pay an exorbitant $220,000 in October 2007, but that was thrown out after the judge disclosed he gave the jury the RIAA’s definition of what needed to be proven. It’s sort of like holding a debate with one of the rules being one side is right all the time. Sort of puts the other side at a disadvantage.
But now the news comes down today that she’s being ordered to pay nearly 10 times that amount by a jury. When you take the 24 representative songs she’s accused of downloading, that’s roughly $80,000 per song.
How about some more perspective? iTunes charges 99 cents (or thereabouts) for individual songs. My music collection, which is 100 percent legal, consists of roughly 20,000 songs. Well, at least I call it legal. They were ripped from CDs that I own, but the RIAA doesn’t believe that’s legal so maybe I’ll have my own lawsuit hammering down on me.
Those CDs take up a lot of room in plastic containers I’m almost ready to put into storage. It took about two weeks to import them all into iTunes. By the iTunes pricing, my entire music collection would cost less than 1/4 of what one song was valued by the jury in the Thomas case.
Of course the great irony of all those CDs is that most of them were purchased more than four years ago. In the past two years I’ve maybe bought a couple of CDs at the most and a few singles off of iTunes.
Why is that you ask? The music today isn’t worth buying.
Does that mean I hop onto Limewire and download everything I can? No. It means I just find other avenues of entertainment. I have a full queue of podcasts on my iPod Shuffle and even more here at work to get me through the day. There are only two I have to pay for, otherwise my commute every day is filled by free entertainment not attached to the recording industry.
And you know that just irks them something awful. Maybe if they focused more on the music instead of attacking 13 year olds and single mothers, they might actually pry my wallet open.