The jury have found Jammmie Thomas guilty of filesharing in the first downloading case to come to court in the US - a sample of 24 songs has landed her a $222,000 fine, a figure which even supporters of strict copyright have suggested might be a bit much. Writing on ZDNet, the bittorrent-basher Russell Shaw suggests that justice hasn't actually been served:
But $22,0000? GMAFB.
Now here would be a good compromise. If Thomas is so guilty of hurting music, music labels and musicians, have her do some sort of community service helping musicians in her community. Maybe drive poor kids to after-school music classes, something like that?
But that, of course, would be to assume the RIAA is interested in music rather than money.
Reading the summing-up in the case on Ars Technica, it looks like the fundamental flaw in Thomas' case was her defence - that the RIAA couldn't prove she was using the computer when the tracks were uploaded - seemed to be undermined by a wave of circumstantial evidence which suggested the opposite. Although the music industry will be spinning this as a definitive victory, all they appear to have done is establish a legal precedent of where reasonable doubt might lie.
So, Virgin is suddenly £100k better off. Will this filter its way to the artists? While Thomas is now looking at spending the rest of her life working one and a quarter days out of five to send some cash to the record label, it's about one-tenth of the pay-off Virgin's parent EMI gave to Martin Stewart when he left the company. Suing nine more breadline people, and they'll be able to handsomely pay off another executive, then.