Recording Industry Association of America is going for the jugular in an ongoing file sharing trial in Massachusetts, urging a federal judge to clarify jury instructions so panelists would award up to $150,000 in damages for each of 30 songs at issue.
The move, made Thursday in the Joel Tenenbaum case, suggests the RIAA stands behind its $1.92 million jury verdict against Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the nation’s first defendant to take on the RIAA at a file sharing trial.
The RIAA has until Aug. 12 to inform the Thomas-Rasset judge whether the $80,000 fine a jury awarded for each of two dozen songs was so out of whack that it was unconstitutionally excessive. The June verdict garnered national headlines because of the unusually large award.
One has to wonder exactly who determines the overall value of a not just the song, but the potential after-effects. Are these people that d/l songs online never going to buy liscensed recordings again? Are they going to stop going to see concerts? After all, the concert circuit if where bands make their real money. You tour and get your talent out there and people will buy your CDs.
Also, you get something unique when you purchase a CD. Aside from the artwork, labels may add incentives for the consumer, like exclusive content ( i.e. programs to run on your computer or video and unreleased tracks ). And for all the speculation that downloading tracks from the internet is going to destroy the recording industry, the RIAA has yet to produce any viable information that would support their claim.
This isn't to say that buy a CD is cheap, it actually isn't. With the average cost of one CD from just about any band ringing up at close to $20 for a single disc, it's no wonder that many people are turning to the internet for free music. But how does the RIAA justify fining someone such an unblushingly massive amount of money for one song?
I think Gordon Gecko has the answer.