It seems that the Department of Justice is taking the party line on the ridiculous levels of punishment inflicted upon Jammie Thomas by the courts. While one would expect them to side with the RIAA for the illegal downloading, it would also seem that any person stating that opinion would also temper it with a statement about the unconscionable amount of the fine levied. After all, it is the Department of Justice, not the Department of Legality. But, alas, it is not so.
The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has defended the $1.92m (£1.16m) fine levied against a US woman who illegally downloaded 24 songs.
The DoJ said in a brief published late last week that the decision against Jammie Thomas-Rasset was not excessive, and should serve as an example to deter others from downloading music illegally.
“The federal copyright statute, enacted by the First Congress and subject to numerous revisions since that time, has consistently authorised the awarding of statutory damages to ensure significant monetary awards in copyright infringement lawsuits that will make copyright owners whole and deter further infringement,” wrote the DoJ.
“This historical approach is followed in the current version of the Copyright Act’s statutory damages provision: it provides compensation to copyright owners who have to invest resources into protecting property that is often unquantifiable in value, and deters those infringing parties who think they will go undetected in committing this serious public wrong.”
The DoJ filing was part of the ongoing battle between Thomas-Rasset and Capital Records. Thomas-Rasset was fined $224,000 (£136,000) in 2007 for downloading and sharing 12 song files on Kazaa. Following an appeal, a new jury awarded the $1.92m decision. A new appeal is underway.
The filing will disappoint those who were expecting the DoJ to be more sympathetic to consumers and downloaders under the Obama administration, which has shown promise for copyright reform with moves such as opening web sites under the Creative Commons licence.
The White House sided more recently with copyright holders, however.
The President, and the administration in general, are moving more to the right on things like this than I would like to see. It really makes me wonder why, when President Obama is proving to be far more a Centrist than anyone would have thought during his campaign, that Fox News, and others, such as Loudmouth Limbaugh and Goober Beck, continue to paint him in shades of rose. It really makes no sense.
As for poor Jammie, I look forward to her next appeal, as I’m certain she does, and certainly wish for her a better outcome – not a removal of guilt, for I believe she is guilty, but a punishment befitting the crime. One that removes the punitive measure of the award, merely because the RIAA wishes to teach the world an object lesson.
As for our Department of Justice, perhaps a look at the dictionary, for the definition of justice, would be a good start.