The retrial of Jammie Thomas, accused of breaching copyrights and destroying the US music industry, has got underway, already yielding one of those moments where music industry witnesses say the most amazing things with a straight face, as ArsTechnica reports:
Defense lawyer Kiwi Camara pressed Sony Entertainment's Gary Leak[...], trying to force him to [put a value on each infringement]. Leak refused to be baited. It was "impossible to determine harm" in this case, he said, which is why the labels want statutory damages that can range from $750 to $150,000 per song.
Camara pressed again. "A message should be sent," Leak said. But Camara wanted numbers; what, in Leak's view, did Thomas-Rasset owe Sony?
"You can't tell the jury a number?" he asked aggressively. No, said Leak, it's up to them to decide; the law allows these damages, and we are asking only what's allowed under the law. The jury must pick the award.
Camara wouldn't give it up. He asked if, by Leak's logic, even the maximum $150,000 per song damage award would therefore be an appropriate amount.
Leak at last gave in. "Certainly!" he said in apparent exasperation, milliseconds before an objection from recording industry lawyers put an end to that line of questioning.
Gary Leak is, by the way, a music industry lawyer. So that was one music industry lawyer having to rescue another music industry lawyer. But not before Leak had said - after making a promise on the Bible about God to tell the truth - that there was no reason at all to think that charging the equivalent of thousands and thousands of downloads was in any way absurd. Because, you know, the law lets you.
The case continues.