To Jammie Thomas: I’m Boycotting All Recording Artists With the RIAA

I’ve had enough. For years I’ve seen the Recording Industry Association of America make a mockery of their customers, common sense, and fair play. I love music, though, and I really respect a lot of the artists that are represented by the RIAA. Yesterday, though, I read this story about a verdict handed down in the trial of the RIAA versus Jammie Thomas-Rasset:

The $1.92 million verdict against a Minnesota woman accused of sharing 24 songs over the Internet could ratchet up the pressure on other defendants to settle with the recording industry — if the big fine can withstand an appeal.

This is the result of a retrial, by the way, so it’s not like this is some one-off crazy jury. She downloaded 24 songs off of Kazaa, a popular file sharing software, and made those songs available to others. Boom: lawsuit. She fought it, mistakenly thinking that you can depend on the courts and the U.S. legal system (I’m not that much of a cynic, mind: usually you can, but not always). Years later, after a retrial was allowed, a jury hands down a judgment against her for $80,000 per song. Because, you know, that’s how much money the recording industry might have lost due to her evil machinations. I don’t use that word carelessly, either: it was decided that her actions were “willful”. Right. Like this woman decided to get those horrible industry executives, managers, and oh, especially the artists.

Listen: the intellectual property system needs to change. The whole mess needs to be rethought, refactored, and redesigned from the ground up. Regular work-a-day artists aren’t going to make this happen themselves, and I understand that. The thing that’s pushed me over the edge is the fact that the RIAA doesn’t have to do this. It’s a choice they make. The law gives them the power to go after people like Thomas-Rasset for “damages”, and they don’t pass those laws. They have a choice to exercise that power or not. And they choose to. The RIAA’s reaction:

“We appreciate the jury’s service and that they take this as seriously as we do. We are pleased that the jury agreed with the evidence and found the defendant liable. Since day one, we have been willing to settle this case and we remain willing to do so.”

So to heck with them, and to heck with any artist that’s represented by them. This is Arstechnica said about the ruling:

The recording industry lawyers, though clearly pleased, had no desire to showboat this one. The massive damage award, which increased from $9,250 per song in the first trial to $80,000, might sounds like a “win,” but will probably stoke grassroots anger against the industry’s campaign…

From now on, I will only buy music by way of used CD’s, or from artists who are either self-published or on labels not represented by the RIAA. Here’s a list of the RIAA member labels. I’ll be checking this from now on with every purchase. I encourage more people to do the same.

Things need to change. Keep voting at the ballot box, but vote with your dollar, as well.

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