Thoughts on the Jammie Thomas verdict

Since this post has become the most popular on this blog since Ligeti died (you guys like the bad news, don’t you?), I thought I’d better add a couple of comments of my own. Note, I’m just an observer here and don’t know any more than anyone else about the details of the case.

It seems clear to me that this was a test case, both for the industry and for the listeners (it’s sad that we’re not friends any more). At this stage the industry look to have got what they want, but the war is far from over. I will be amazed if there isn’t at least one appeal, and the case may go all the way. (Update, 16:17: I’ve just read that she will appeal.) Unless further evidence is found (over what has been reported), I don’t see the higher US courts accepting the current ruling: they’ve proved themselves very sensible in the past (eg Grokster) over such matters. If they do, and an IP address and a username used on a different forum are judged enough to prove guilt then we all have a serious problem that goes much deeper than copyright infringement.

The second thing is that since this was a high profile test case, it’s quite possible that Thomas is being bankrolled by parties interested in seeing the Big Music industry truly challenged. (Update, 16:17: a freejammie fund has been set up by a ‘third party’.) Until now, the big labels have won money from all those they have accused of copyright infringement through the threat of legal action. Thomas was the first to refuse to be intimidated and to call the industry’s bluff. She seems an unlikely champion of the people and there are plenty of parties interested in seeing her succeed.

In any case, there’s a long way to go yet.

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