Thousands of Australians who illegally downloaded music from the Australian owned file sharing web site Kazaa have been identified and now face the potential of being charged and fined thousands of dollars. Last week in the US a mother who downloaded 24 songs from Kazaa was fined nearly $250,000.
Information on the Australians who illegally downloaded music files while also sharing music files was obtained under subpoena during investigations into the Kazaa file sharing operation and is now in the hands of Music Industry Piracy Investigations (MIPI).
However the MIPI, which is seen as a weak organisation compared with its US counterparts has to date done nothing, however this could change under pressure from the music industry vendors.
The Kazaa file-sharing service owned by Sharman Networks is an Australian web based service that allows users to download files such as MP3 and MP4 movie files, and last September, Sharman was found guilty in the Federal Court of encouraging users to infringe copyright on the network.
When the verdict was first handed down in September, the judge gave the company two months to implement a solution to prevent it from trading copyrighted music.
The US mother who was ordered to pay $220,000 after being found guilty of illegally downloading copyrighted music is loudly voicing her own opinion about the case including plans to appeal the decision.
Jammie Thomas’ attorney announced Monday that he would appeal the decision, which has been viewed as a victory for the Recording Industry Association of America. The single mother’s attorney made the announcement during a CNN interview, just days after a jury found her guilty in the first RIAA case to go to trial. Thomas wrote about the announcement on her MySpace blog.
“He explained how we’re going to take the RIAA’s theory of making [files] available and appeal it,” she wrote. “He also explained how if we win, this would stop the RIAA dead in their tracks!!! Every single suit they have brought has been based on this making available theory, and if we can win this appeal, they would actually have to prove a file was shared and by someone other than their own licensed agent.”
Last week, a jury ordered Thomas, to pay restitution to six separate record companies — Sony BMG, Arista Records, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings, Capitol Records, and Warner Bros. Records. The amount covers 24 copyrighted songs illegally downloaded on her computer. Thomas’ lawyer argued that someone else could have downloaded the songs either in-person or remotely, but the Minnesota jury sided with the recording industry.
The verdict has given critics of the RIAA a rallying point and helped them organize efforts to stop legal actions enacted by Thomas’ support group.
Thomas said she earns $36,000 a year. Her supporters have donated money to help her fight back. Over the weekend, she reported raising nearly $1,000.
“I will be a thorn in the sides of the record companies for the rest of my life if that is what it takes,” Thomas wrote on another Web site to help draw support. “I will make this situation the worst thing the recording companies could have ever done to anyone. I will also do everything I can to help others who are in the same situation. I will not be bullied!!!”