Linkfest: RIAA Peer-to-Peer Trial

On Thursday, a federal jury in Minnesota found a woman liable for uploading 24 songs via the peer-to-peer network Kazaa, ordering her to pay $220,000.

The volume of online discussion of this case is unsurprisingly large, but I thought it would be worth highlighting some of the coverage, especially from CNet and Ars Technica.

CNet provides its own linkfest, referencing several articles worth a glimpse. The Bush administration crowed about the case as proof positive that copyright law is working, while Rep. Rick Boucher (D-VA) grumbled that the “damages are obviously excessive and are way out of line.” Unsurprisingly, the defendant, Jammie Thomas, maintained her innocence and decried the large penalty.

Three opinion articles stick out here. Charles Cooper has a basic piece on why record labels are their own worst PR enemies. Declan McCullagh, now blogging as The Iconoclast, has two more, one breaking down why the RIAA won the case, and another giving a not-too-shabby institutional rational choice explanation of how copyright has grown so bloated that fines have far outgrown the offense.

Ars Technica provided outstanding coverage during the trial. Jennifer Pariser, the head of litigation for Sony BMG, provided for two particularly newsworthy entries. First, she noted the labels have lost money in their legal offensive against file sharers.

Pariser also argued copying purchased music for one’s own enjoyment is “a nice way of saying ‘steals just one copy.’” This is a very narrow interpretation of fair use starkly at odds with the Audio Home Recording Act, as interpreted by the Diamond Rio case. In short, current case and statutory law says pretty clearly that ripping CDs to your MP3 player is not stealing.

Perhaps the funniest analysis comes from the first comment following William Patry’s comment on the verdict. As self-described “copyright abolitionist” Crosbie Fitch writes, “I compare the jury to the students in Milgram’s shock experiment” (link in original).

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