Go ahead and read this court transcript. It’s a 35-page PDF of the London-Sire Records. Does 1-4 copyright infringement case. It’s the same song and dance you’re all familiar with: RIAA catches someone downloading a song, which entitles it to thousands upon thousands of dollars in remuneration. Only this time, the presiding judge, Nancy Gertner of the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, actually recognizes the complete absurdity of suing these people so much money for downloading music. Some highlights:
• “There’s a huge imbalance in these cases. The record companies are represented by large law firms with substantial resources. The law is also overwhelmingly on their side.”
• “I can’t say this is a situation that is a goof situation or a fair situation, it is , however, the situation.”
• “You know, it seems to me that counsel representing the record companies have an ethical obligation to fully understand that are fighting people without lawyers, to fully understand that, more than just how do we serve them, but just to understand that the formalities of this are basically bankrupting people, and that it’s terribly critical that you stop it…”
• “…that it was his son who did the downloading and his son has no assets, you’re getting water from a stone. What are you pursuing here?”
The whole thing is pretty tremendous.
Here’s what I don’t understand about all of this. Let’s say the RIAA catches me downloading a song. All of a sudden I owe them several thousand dollars for copyright infringement, right? Now, let’s say I walk into Best Buy and physically steal a copy of an album. Do I owe the RIAA thousands of dollars in that scenario? Because if copyright infringement=theft and theft=small fine, why is the RIAA suing these people for thousands of dollars? How does that make sense?