A Court Test Begins

And Jon Healey expresses his opinion: For a few 99-cent songs morepdf

The major record companies campaign against individual file-sharers hits a milestone Tuesday: for the first time since the lawsuits began four years ago, a case will actually go to trial.

The defendant is Jammie Thomas, a Native American single mother of two from central Minnesota. She is one of about 30,000 people who have either been sued by the major
labels trade group, the Recording Industry Assn. of America, or agreed
to settle in advance of a lawsuit. And no matter how Thomas case turns out in a federal courtroom in Duluth, the RIAA can’t win.

[…] For all the public-relations consequences, the major labels have stuck with the campaign because they think it has some deterrent effect. Millions of people may still be sharing billions of songs online, yet in the RIAA’s view, the situation would be exponentially worse if it weren’t trying to impose some consequences on illegal downloaders. With some of these cases coming to trial, it’s possible that the public will begin to see file-sharers as scofflaws, not victims. But when the penalty for sharing a 99-cent song is $750 to $150,000, it’s easy to see battles such as Thomas’ as a case of David taking on Goliath.