The Record Companies "win" the trial [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


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10-05-2007, 04:10 AM
Well can't say I'm surprised at the outcome- a federal jury has ordered a Minnesota woman to pay $222,000 to the record companies for downloading and distributing music.
If you missed it:
Ouch. That's a good chunk of coin.

Soooo...what the hell does this mean for everyone exactly? Anything?

I'm not a lawyer, but the defense case appeared to depend on creating doubt that this lady was the actual person committing the crime. Dunno about you guys, but that seemed pretty weak to me.
"Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, sure there's a kazillion songs on our client's hard drive, but that could have been anybody". That would make for the worst episode of Law & Order ever.

And maybe I read it wrong, but did this lady not have the opportunity to settle for super cheap before going to court? Ouch. That's gotta suck.

So what are your thoughts on this? One the one hand, I have no love or sympathy for the poor record companies who are losing money because they are idiots (see exhibit A - New Britany Spears album) On the other, this woman wrote a paper on the Napster trial in college and it's not like she didn't know what she was doing was illegal. It's almost like she asked for trouble.

I can't see this deterring many people, but could it be the start of much easier litigation and "loss-recovery" for the big bad record companies?

Deep down inside I was hoping they'd lose this...

As for the lady, I hope they offer her a better settlement. That's just ridiculous. Problem is, if they let her off the hook, the whole reason for going to trial to establish a deterrent factor is undermined.

Les Adams
10-05-2007, 05:19 AM
This is a tough one but here are my views on the subject.

In the years when the record companies were bleating and jumping up and down about illegal downloads from the likes of Kazaa and the original Napster without making a move to set up and promote a legal way to dowload and pay for music I had very little sympathy for them, although I had some for the artists who were having their music and royalties stolen. As a former recording artist and producer, I can say that I would not like to think that somebody was getting the results of my labours for free.

The question is, how much were (and are) the artists and record companies actually losing? Would these illegal downloaders have gone out and bought the music if they had topay for it? Undoubtedly some would and this is where the revenue has been lost, but I suggest that most would not, so there was no money ever going to change hands in the first place, so where was the loss?

I will also suggest that the downloaders were actually doing us all a favour by forcing the hand of a record industry that undoubtedly would have preferred us to keep buying CD's at full retail price, but that was very short sighted of them. What they failed initially to see was the huge potential of legal downloading. They might be selling the product cheaper, but in potentially much larger quantities and at the same time making the product more accessible. The record industry destroyed the independant record retail business with a pricing policy that unfairly advantaged the big stores, so now we the consumer have to go to a large shopping centre to buy a CD!

I would liken the early illegal file sharing websites to the pirate radio stations of the 1960's,who were playing music without paying royalties, but what they did was provide the public with a service they could not get elsewhere and thank God they did otherwise in the UK we might still have the BBC Home and Light services and, more importantly, the whole pop music scene would have not evolved the way it did. The illegal activities of the pirate stations forced a change in how music was available to the public and this is what has happened now with downloading, as we have legal sites like Napster and I-Tunes. Putting to one side the the sound quality issues for a moment, as nobody suggests the higher quality mediums such as CD are going to vanish overnight so we still have a choice, legal downloading has potentially given the artists and record companies a huge boost... BUT they have got to get it right!

Now that legal dowloading has arrived, I am all in favour of these illegal downloads being stamped out and prosecutions such as this one are not just inevitable, but essential to try and ensure the people who make the music get paid and that includes the record companies. You might not like Britney Spears, but big selling artists like her make the industry money so they can invest in new artists and music.

I was heavily involved in pirate radio years ago (I have two convictions under the wireless telegraphy act of 1949! for operating illegal transmitters!) but nowadays I don't see the need for it. There is plenty of choice and if you don't want to listen to the music they play, there are millions of tracks available to download and play (stream) legally for just under £10 a month by subscribing to Napster. I use Napster to listen to new music and if I like it, I will buy the CD or vinyl. Itis like having a record shop in my home and I certainly buy far more music and CD's now than I ever did when I had to go to a shop and browse through racks of CD's then wait to listen to it on a dodgy set of headphones that are usually dead on one channel.

Dowloading music IMHO is the saviour of the music industry but should only be done legally so everyone gets paid.

If this "lady" has been effectivly stealing music and distributing it (presumably for profit?) then she got what she deserved and if you owned a shop and she came in and helped herself without paying, you would expect her to be arrested and charged! It is not as though she couldn't have done it legally from a legitimate site.

10-05-2007, 06:04 AM
Well stated Les. The Recording industry has benefitted every time the public has been able to choose their own means of obtaining and listening to, recorded music. The record companies are desperately trying to save their outdated business model by any means possible. Today, the record stores are full of artist who, if the record companies had their way, wouldn't be there, despite the fact that they're viable money makers. These artists have big label contracts now by sheer force of the internet, but instead of embracing downloading, the RIAA wanted to kill it, because wasn't theirs. The RIAA wants to to be able to force trends, not follow them, and the myriad of choices and directions that the internet represents makes it too hard for them to do so.

10-05-2007, 06:24 AM
I heard about this case on the radio this morning. But from what I heard where she went wrong was she denied it altogether and then tried to cover it up by installing a new hard drive, a bit naÔve to say the least. So her case was based on denial, and lying in court maybe reflects the hefty fine.

As for downloading killing music thatís a load of rubbish, maybe in its early days it had some impact but not now. The people who file share music are now in the minority, most copies are not downloaded but passed around by friends, family, work colleagues and we are not talking about money changing hands itís just so easy and cheap. If you want to stop the wholesale copying of music going on then you have to hit media sales. Blank CDRís in the UK are now under 10p a disc, if they were more expensive people might think again.

Yes everybody knows it is wrong but that doesnít and wonít stop them doing it. I buy more music now than I ever used to, but maybe now Iím a little more selective in that with the Internet you can afford to pick and choose a little better not only in what you buy, but where you buy it from and if you decide to buy it new or used. HMV lost millions last year but if you visit their website youíll see why, no samples, poor choice, badly organised, hell up to about a year ago they still charged for postage.