‘Joan of Arc’ of Filesharing loses appeal, must pay RIAA $222K for sharing 24 songs

Jammie Thomas-Rasset is known as “The Joan Of Arc of Filesharing“, having waged a long seven year war against the RIAA (the Recording Industry Association of America, the litigation body under which all the major record labels have bought expensive memberships for representation over the past decade). Unfortunately, this Joan of Arc title appears to be cemented in history as Thomas-Rasset, a woman of modest means, has now lost her final appeal with the Supreme Court.

This should come as a disgusting reminder that although you think if you appeal enough, eventually common sense and decency will kick in, you’re wrong. Money and power is what wins you more money and more power, not fairness.

Because 24 songs, which sells for $1-$2, really is worth $222,000 if you happen to be sharing them on the Internet (making it possible for others to even partially download them from you).

The Verge reports:

When the case was brought, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group representing the top labels were preparing to end years of litigation against file sharers. Thomas-Rasset was the first person to refuse to settle with the RIAA and argue her case before a jury. The cost of settling back then? $3,500. On Monday, Thomas-Rasset and her lawyers were not immediately available for comment.

An RIAA spokeswoman said in a statement: “We appreciate the Court’s decision and are pleased that the legal case is finally over. We’ve been willing to settle this case from day one and remain willing to do so.”

Thomas-Rasset went before two different juries and in each case they hammered her. In her first trial, the jury ordered her to pay the labels $222,000. That decision was tossed by the judge, and the case was retried. In the second trial, the jury ordered Thomas-Rasset to pay $1.9 million. The district judge in the case called the award “monstrous,” and reduced the award. But the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the district court’s reduction and returned the award to the original $222,000.

(Source: Supreme court denies appeal of woman who owes RIAA $222,000 | The Verge)

Importantly, the days of suing individuals for filesharing are over. It is still technically illegal to download and upload music, but it’s not such a massive deal anymore, because well, record labels have stopped chucking hissy fits and tantrums and realised it’s not all that big a chunk of their revenue after all. In fact, it’s negligible, not worth the cost of pursuing. In fact, record labels have better profits than ever, having finally fully embraced the digital age and turning to countless online models from iTunes to YouTube to Pandora instead of trying to sue everything into obscurity that attempts to use music.

These new services offer convenience and lower prices to music lovers, while, ironically, the price of an album on iTunes has sky-rocketed from what it once was (around $7.99) to beyond what you’d pay for a hard copy CD in stores (around $24, which I find utterly ridiculous). People fools are paying for it, too, and the record labels are happily lining their coffers.

All of this compliance and widespread acceptance has seen pirating drop from its all-time high negligible percentage to its current sub-sub negligible percentage.

The effect this record company relief has had on the RIAA is a sharp reduction in membership, as TorrentFreak.com reported In August 2012:

The latest RIAA tax filing shows that the revenue generated by the anti-piracy group has reached a new low. In just two years the membership dues from music labels have been cut in half and have now sunk to below $30 million a year. While the group has 72 employees, payouts to the top two executives including CEO Cary Sherman amount to more than $3 million, some 25% of the total wage bill.

The RIAA has submitted its latest tax filing to the IRS, covering the fiscal year ending March 31, 2011.

Despite the long reporting delay, the figures are well worth a look as they show a massive decline in revenue for the music group. In just two years the RIAA’s entire budget was almost cut in half.

The total revenue in the latest filing is $29.1 million, down from $51.35 million two years earlier. This drop in revenue is a direct result of the dwindling membership dues paid by music labels, from $49.76 million to $27.88 million in the same period.

The effects of the decline in revenue are also visible in the massive cuts in personnel.

This explains why the RIAA has ceased pursuing expensive lawsuits against every Jammie Thomas-Rasset that dared to partake in illegal music uploading. It’s just too bad that all of this present-day common sense and digital contentedness doesn’t apply to our poor  Joan of Arc of Filesharing.

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Categories: People, Politics, Law

Author:Andrew Beato

CEO, Chief Editor and founder of Intentious. Passionate comment enthusiast, amateur philosopher, Quora contributor, audiobook and general knowledge addict.

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