On Sale Now, 24 Songs For $1.92 Million

Now here’s some news that promoted me to get a little bit creative with my tags.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the single mother who went to trial over having 24 song files visible on a file sharing service and lost had a second chance by getting the case retried. Apparently, the judged felt that the fines were “disproportionate to the damages suffered after the verdict awarded the RIAA an unreasonably high amount of $220,000.00 (a little over $9,100.00 per song).

Well, the second jury came back with a different number alright… $80,000.00 per song for a total of $1,920,000.00!!!

If this isn’t stupidity at it’s finest, I don’t know what is….

Let me pause for a moment to be clear; this isn’t to say she isn’t guilty as sin. The evidence against her was so overwhelming I’m surprised that she didn’t just pay out the protection/extortion money they were asking for ($5,000 I believe). Regardless, she even went so far as to destroy evidence after she got caught and had a local store replace the hard drive in the system for her after it was obvious to her that they were going to come knocking


Apparently, they don’t give the jury a pencil and paper and they also require them to check their common sense at the door before entering the jury room.

Leaving aside the subject of Jury Nullification, if I were the Jury Foreman, here’s how it would’ve gone down:

Being that the jury pool is supposed to be a random cross section of morons who can’t escape serving the defendant’s average peers, I would have everyone write their yearly salary/wages on a slip of paper (to maintain everyone’s right to privacy) and come up with an average. We’ll call it S for salary.

On a second slip of paper I’d have everyone write down how many days of community service that they think would be reasonable for a person to do if they were caught stealing a CD and again I’d come up with an average. Let’s call this average P (punishment)

Now if you account for weekends, a couple of holidays and a two week vacation the average number of work days in a year is roughly 245 (paid or not, they are not working days so we won’t count them); let W be 245.

Also given that the average CD is about 12 songs, let C be 12..

Thus, here is how we calculate out a reasonable award in a decision given N=number of infringed songs:


Basically, in English, it comes down to this; the defendant pays the equivalent of the average number of work days (P) worth of pay (S) that the jurors feel is valid punishment for such thievery of an equivalent number of CDs (C) of infringing content (N). And it’s all based on the average salary per average working days of the defendant’s peers.

Assuming the jury came up with S=$40,000 and P=2; then instead of $1,920,000.00, this woman would end up having to pay $653.06:


Now, in consideration of the extra circumstances of her destruction of evidence. If that is something we are allowed to consider we can tack on a factor of 3 (treble damages for a scumbag move). That would then make it a total of $1,959.18. Painful yes, but at least she can feed her kids.

Interestingly, with this algorithm, the more blatant the violation is the more painful it gets. So let’s say instead of a mere 24 songs, she was caught infringing 2000 songs:


As you can see, it quickly gets expensive for those asking for trouble, but remains reasonable-ish for a petty violation like 24 songs as in this case.

I can’t help but to think she’s falling on her sword at this point just to show how ridiculously out of whack the whole system is. If she is, then maybe it will turn out that she’s a genius after all. But somehow even then I’ll have trouble believing it, because although I don’t remeber exactly where I saw them, at some point I saw a list of the names of the songs in question and let me tell you… she’s no Einstein.


~ by ghendar on June 25, 2009.