Illegal Music Downloading: Guilt or Innocence?

I remember when I was a kid, I used to record music off the radio all the time onto my 8-track tapes. It supposedly was illegal, but I didn't think much of it. Is it any different today in the world of MP3s?

Jammie Thomas decided that she wasn't going to settle with the recording industry for the tunes she had downloaded illegally. So the case went to court. Today, she was found guilty and ordered to pay a boatload of money.
The recording industry won a key fight Thursday against illegal music downloading when a federal jury ordered a Minnesota woman to pay $222,000 for sharing copyrighted music online.

The jury ordered Jammie Thomas, 30, to pay the six record companies that sued her $9,250 for each of 24 songs they focused on in the case. They had alleged she shared 1,702 songs online in violation of their copyrights.

"She was in tears. She's devastated," Thomas' attorney, Brian Toder, told The Associated Press. "This is a girl that lives from paycheck to paycheck, and now all of a sudden she could get a quarter of her paycheck garnished for the rest of her life."
I think she should be punished, but then again we should all probably be punished as well.

I've spent hundreds of dollars in the past few years buying music. The only music I have downloaded 'for free' is music that I couldn't find on any of the pay-for music sites. But for all intents and purposes, I'm guilty as well.

Actually, I think there is a better solution. Removal of Digital Rights Management (copy protection). A lot of sites are now doing this. This will encourage people to buy music rather than to pirate it. I expect revenues to go up as a result of this compromise.

As well, I think Jammie Thomas' sentence was much too harsh.

What's your opinion?


  1. Makes you wonder about our so-called system of justice. IMHO the criminals are in the music industry. They sell 25-cent music CDs for $16, and hardly any of the mark-up goes to the artists.

  2. It's always amusing (in a sick way) when an industry guilty of stealing artists' rights to their own music, convicted of price fixing on multiple occasions and caught using unlicensed software proceeds to lecture the rest of us about honesty and theft. Sharing copyrighted music online is a crime, but it's also an act of civil disobedience against thoroughly corrupt companies who fleece people of their livelihood. Most artists don't see a dime from their album sales and end up having to make all of their money doing live performances. There's something very, very wrong with that (especially when a CD is usually more expensive than a DVD).

  3. I wasn't aware of that. That is also interesting that DVD's go down in price much more quickly than CDs.

    Hopefully now with MP3 downloads, artists can begin to work out their own deals and offer their own music on their own or independent labels.

  4. Hey SUMP readers,
    This is just a heads up that I've got a good voucher thread going on with the voucher man himself, Representative Steve Urquhart, over on his blog,

    Click on over and join the fun. I busted him on his use of the figure .0025% in the voter information pamphlet as the cost of vouchers relative to the cost of the entire State education budget. It seems to be an honest mistake, but still, we'll have to see how he corrects the erroneous information that has now gone out to voters.

  5. As for this topic, I recently read that Radiohead is letting fans pay whatever they want for their new album.

    That should be an interesting experiment . . .

  6. I have often suspected that many of those who insist that the "The law is the law!" on immigration matters and that there are no excuses probably excuse their own violation of laws like copyright, etc., all the time. (Not lumping you in with that lot; I don't know if you've ever made that exclamation.)

  7. Actually... Radiohead found that their "pay what you want" model had almost everyone paying full price voluntarily. Strip off the DRM and treat your customers like honest people and they'll open their wallets. Who knew?

  8. Voice,

    I do support the existing illegal immigration laws that are not being very well enforced, but I do agree with your implication that it is important to take into consideration the people that are behind the statistics. I wrote here some time ago about the problems with legal immigration causing problems by splitting up families, and I may have even written about (which I nonetheless thought was a travesty) of splitting up the Utah Guatemalan family, part of whom were legal, part of whom were illegal, and one of whom had cancer. As I've said here before, the critical first step is to build the border fence/wall.


    It's good to know that Radiohead offers that kind of product. My 'suspicions' were that this is exactly the kind of good behavior people would exhibit under such circumstances. Cool!


    I like the One World community kitchen idea. This is the way it ought to be. It appears that, through individual private charity, they are able to improve the service they provide to the community by helping the hungry. My family makes a substantial contribution each month to the LDS Fast Offering fund, which is used locally to help LDS members and non-members alike who come under indigent circumstances. What I wonder, though, is how that is perceived in the non-LDS world of charity--i.e. that the LDS have a closed society because they don't donate to other charitable causes since they're helping their church take care of it. (Did that make sense?)

  9. Oasis and Jamiroquai are following Radiohead's lead:


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