Memo to my future self, and a word of advice to all you pirates out there: if you find yourself bent over, on the receiving end of a lawsuit from the RIAA, for god’s sake, take the settlement. As far as I know, of the relatively few who have actually tried to resist the RIAA’s litigious efforts, absolutely none have come out alive. Well, they’ve come out alive, but they may as well be dead, because many (if not all) of the defendants have found themselves owing the RIAA hundreds of thousands of dollars, as opposed to just a few thousand, which is what the settlements have averaged around.
In 2008, the RIAA supposedly abandoned its practice of suing individuals, but one case in particular, from 2006, was finally (more or less) closed this week. The suit in question involved a woman from Minnesota named Jammie Thomas-Rasset, who was initially accused of sharing more than 1,700 music files via the now-defunct p2p program KaZaA. That number was reduced to 24 songs, to which the RIAA offered her a $5,000 settlement. You know what happens next…
Thomas-Rassett rejected that settlement, as well as a separate offer in 2009 for $25,000, and now faces a $222,000 bill, following an appeals court ruling on Tuesday. A district court had previously reduced the damages to $54,000 from $1.9 million, but the appeals court saw it fit to revise this number to the amount reached at the first trial in 2007, assigning a $9,250 value to each individual song. Thomas-Rassett is also forbidden from making available “sound recordings for distribution,” as if that really needed to be specified.
In a statement issued following the ruling, the RIAA said, “We are pleased with the appellate court’s decision and look forward to putting this case behind us.” Thomas-Rassett, meanwhile, offered no comment, with her mouth agape.
• RIAA: http://www.riaa.com