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June 19th, 2009
09:02 AM ET

Does the Fine Fit the Crime?

      In a do-over of the only music downloading case to make it to trial,  Minnesota mother of four Jammie Thomas-Rasset has been found guilty of illegally sharing 24 songs over the internet. A federal jury decided she must pay the recording industry $80,000 per song, for a total of $1.9 million. Thomas-Rasset calls the fine "kind of ridiculous" and her attorney notes that songs can be downloaded for less than a dollar each.

       What do you think? Does the fine fit the crime? Or is the recording industry overreaching by going after individuals who trade music online? We'll take a look at the case and your comments with Nicole Lapin during the 12pm ET hour of NewsRoom with Tony Harris.


Filed under: Nicole Lapin • Tony Harris
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Tom Harper

    No. That is ridiculous. Especially since she's not Bill Gates and won't be able to pay it. These judges need to keep the fines out of the realm of the absurd. I think that the judgement will be reduced or perhaps eliminated on appeal.

    June 19, 2009 at 9:14 am |
  2. suhail

    ridiculous just as yhe judge who sued the dry cleaners for millions..............so who is 2 blame

    June 19, 2009 at 9:37 am |
  3. Peg Shambo

    It's laughable. They have already been determined to be worth 99 cents each. Let's see. 24 x .99 = $23.76 What about the recipients of those songs? If I tape an LP or CD and share it with a friend, will I get an almost $2 million fine, too?

    June 19, 2009 at 9:38 am |
  4. Darrell Florida

    The record companies think that they are simply loosing money because people aren't buying their cd's? There may be some truth to that, but this is my theory.: Now that you can buy individual songs for as low as $1- the record labels have forfeited the sale of thousands of songs. People no longer want the album- they want half of it- and at $1 per song that's what they are getting.

    June 19, 2009 at 9:49 am |
  5. Darrell Florida

    Downloading music has become such a norm, and the recording industry should have had reigns on it the minute they bought into this internet sensation. Record companies WISH they can make thousands per song!

    Charging or fining a person that much money is ridiculous. They are pretending that his 24 downloads shook the very foundation of the Music industry– that because he downloaded these 24 songs, millions of dollars has been lost on his accord.

    Just ridiculous- so outlandish!

    June 19, 2009 at 9:55 am |
  6. Scott

    The RIAA must determine a standard rate for compensation and apply across current and future cases . The idea that a song made available to thousands of downloaders justifies $80k a song is ridiculous. The court should enforce the standard rate and stop allowing the RIAA lawyers to ask what they want for damages. What were the jury thinking? I think a fair compensation is $1000 a song, $24,000. Oh and by the way, I use Bit-torrent, much better than old school P2P.

    June 19, 2009 at 11:26 am |
  7. Chad Cathey

    This fine is crazy , the record companies already make millions from royalties from each of the artists-bands the do the records for. They need to give the money to those that are disabled and on social security that keep getting cut like the ones here in california. Also They need to help those that are jobless and are in troubleand afraid of losing their homes. This country is almost rediculous to even live in anymore.

    June 19, 2009 at 11:57 am |
  8. Laura

    I think it is disgusting that a huge corporation would allow this to go to trial. She should be doing some community service and educating young people about the ethics of illegal downloading. This is a travisty is this time of economics and she is a single mother. Good grief – murderers and rapists and robbers don't have to repay squat! Get real!

    June 19, 2009 at 12:57 pm |
  9. James D.

    The fine doesn't fit at all - it seems record companies refuse to acknowledge that music is beyond something much more than a product to be bought, sold, or licensed.

    June 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm |
  10. David Hill

    What if the lady had stolen a cd containing each of the songs from a store? This wouldn't have reached news and she wouldn't be getting all this grief. They are simply trying to make an example out of anyone they can find.

    June 19, 2009 at 1:00 pm |
  11. Oliver from Texas

    It's absolutely ridiculous. She's being made an example of to try and scare all the other people who download music. Most songs on itunes are .99 cents, would you fine someone 80,000 dollars for stealing a packet of gum worth a 1.29? or a 12 pack of coke that's just under $4? It's one thing to fine someone, but be reasonable.

    June 19, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  12. KEVMIC

    I was laughing when I heard this!! To charge someone that much money for songs that isn't even in radio rotation anymore is ridiculous!! Not to mention after reading the list of the songs she downloaded, these are all songs from artists who either aren't even together anymore, or artists who haven't released an album in years!! I really hope they're not expecting her to really pay this outlandish amount of money for songs she could get off of a site like itunes for 24.00 bucks!!

    June 19, 2009 at 1:08 pm |
  13. Jalynnette Locklear

    I wonder how many of the people on the jury have ever downloaded music from an illegal site? How would they feel about being made to pay back all that money? If you ask me, I think Kazaa and all of the other sites that aren't legal who offer downloads should be made to pay that money back. Why offer a service that you is illegal? Sure we need to have some common sense ourselves, but if it's offered, who wouldn't take it?

    June 19, 2009 at 1:24 pm |
  14. Jen in Massachusetts

    This fine is so excessive! Why don't Americans care about their 8th Amendment Constitutional rights? Why doesn't anybody sue over 8th Amendment violations? That's the right to be free from excessive fines (as well as cruel and unusual punishment).

    The 8th Amendment is obviously violated all the time by big business, small government, debt collectors, and credit card companies. I'm sure you can add some more culprits to that short list. The losers are average citizens who don't have the financial resources, the time, or the information they need to fight back against excessive, and often fraudulent, penalties.

    I am 100% sure that most American citizens suffer way more actual hardship and damages due to 8th Amendment violations than they do because of 1st Amendment (speech) or 2nd Amendment (bearing arms) violations!

    June 19, 2009 at 2:27 pm |
  15. JANE

    Crime definitely does not fit the vast punishment? Who in the heck decided this?
    Mother of 4, and her life is ruined over sheer nonsense.
    Again the wacko judicial system, that gives some guy a few months for raping a four year old child, and a 1.9 million dollar fine for a few songs. JUDICAL SYSTEM IS A SHAM.
    Mostly because of horrifying lawyers that even decided to hear this case. The problem with health care and the whole downfall of the economy can be led back to the bleeding of the judiciary and corruption of lawyers. Ask any doctor or hospital what they pay in malpractice insurance. Lawyers have been bleeding Americans dry.
    They need to put a cap on fees charged by lawyers. The have driven up cost of insurances so high, that now 42% of Americans cannot afford health insurance or care.
    i just recieved a notice from my govenor, that our state no longer will pay for extended care for elderly. So, now they have to die alone at home because no one will accept them if they can not pay. We are now approaching a third world nation. All because of lawyers.
    Are these dang lawyers going to sue the Chinese that also not only download but make fake copies of music, movies and everything else? They are going to have to go after a whole lot of people with this one, because a whole bunch of teens doing this every day. Music is like air. try to catch some and fine them for breathing it. Mozart must be turning over in his grave.

    June 19, 2009 at 8:02 pm |
  16. JANE

    They need to cap all fees of lawyers. Bingo Barack. Got to plug the holes in the system.

    June 19, 2009 at 8:04 pm |
  17. marsh

    you see even judges acting dumb and foolish how that person able pay for that they never see that momey– they wont see half that money that person be dead before $10,000 is paid back. the music is wack only one song on whole cd is good. make better songs people by your product

    June 19, 2009 at 10:39 pm |
  18. Bob Lennon

    What a discrace!

    Fining a woman such a huge amount for such a slight transgression.

    Where is the the judicial balance!

    The recording industry has bought out our justice system and is setting a platform of judicial fascism for that big business.

    Surely a shameful day in the administration of justice and the conduct of special interests.

    June 20, 2009 at 12:05 am |
  19. george

    This is a ridiculous case that is guilty of attacking an individual and trying to make her into an example when the real issue is between the music industry and music sharing sites such as limewire and others like it. I bet while I wrote this, 50,000 people just downloaded illegal music, maybe we should charge all those people too. I mean we all have tons of money right now since the economy is doing so well and we all know that rock stars and rappers need the money more than this poor woman who has now basically been defamed for doing something that for 10 years hasn't been regulated. Go after the right people, would you arrest the drug dealer or would you arrest the drug user???

    June 20, 2009 at 12:21 pm |
  20. bob

    It's sad that the RIAA thinks this is worth the effort. In thirty years when the majority of the population who gave a flip is deceased nobody will remember what RIAA or the monopoly it was stood for. This wreaks of desperation and corruption.

    June 21, 2009 at 2:15 am |
  21. michelle

    wow why be so hard on vicks saying you don't believe him what if we said we don't believe you stoped drinking!!

    August 18, 2009 at 2:42 am |

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