Just before I went to bed last night, I was scrolling through the news reports on line and found a story that was very interesting. A 34 year old mom of four was found guilty of copyright infringment by a federal court for sharing music files on Kazaa. This was the second federal trial for the Minnesota housewife, who in February of 2005 downloaded 1700 copyrighted songs to Kazaa. A suit was filed against her by the Recording Industry of America. She'd shared the songs of Gloria Estefan, Sheryl Crow (one of my personal faves), Green Day, and many others.
Now this was her second trial. In the first, she was found guilty and fined over $200,00 but because the judge hadn't instructed the jury properly, the judgment was thrown out and a new trial was ordered.
Honestly, she should've take the first verdict and gone home because the jury did NOT like this thief in the second federal trial. This time the judge made his instructions to the jury very clear saying.. the act of downloading copyrighted sound recordings or distributing them to other users on peer-to-peer networks like Kazaa, without a license from the owners, are copyright violations.
When the jury heard the story, they found her guilty and fined her a whopping $1.92 million (roughly $80,000 per song). Will the recording artists and their companies ever get that money from a Minnesota housewife? Unlikely. But in the end, that's not the point. A blow, in my opinion, was struck for all of us who have been systematically ripped off every time we see one of our books listed on these pirate sites. Our issues are roughly the same as those in the music industry. Thieves are stealing from us.
Lately the loops are burning up with talk of new pirate sites that steal our work and give it away for free. Many of us believe chasing them down doesn't do a whole lot of good because they pop right back up again.
Thing is, this is a huge blow to those who steal our work and put it on these file sharing sites. Another thing that might help? Many of these pirate sites transfer virus' onto computers. I'm betting if we got the word out about this, people would think twice before infecting their computers. I mean really, would you want to risk that when you could buy the roughly $5 book straight from the publishers site? I sure wouldn't.
Here's a copy of the link if you'd be interested in reading about the judgment.