Seven Crimes With Smaller Fines Than Pirating

Film is subjective. Common sense is not. Pirating is stealing. Flat out. Plain and simple. Any justification drivel about it is just pathetic. HOWEVER…

What is even more pathetic is how studios have treated their customers like dirt and pursued them like war criminals. Don’t bloody tell me I can’t back up a DVD I bought and paid for. Or suing little Billy’s family into ruin because Billy downloaded “Dude Where’s My Car”.

To put this into perspective… take Jammie Thomas for example. She didn’t download a movie, but she did download a whopping 24 songs. So about 2 CD’s worth. She got hit with a $2 million dollar fine. TWO MILLION DOLLARS.

Perhaps instead of downloading music or a movie… you should murder someone… because the fine is cheaper. Check this out:

1. Child abduction: the fine is only like $25000.

2. Stealing the actual CD: the fine is $2,500

3. Rob your neighbor: the fine is $375,000

4. Burn a house down: The fine is just over $375,000

5. Stalk someone: The fine is $175,000

6. Start a dogfighting ring: the fine is $50,000

7. Murder someone: The maximum penalty is only $25,000 and 15 years in jail, and depending on your yearly salary, would probably be far slighter a penalty that $2 million.

So somehow the RIAA and MPAA have bought enough government reps that your punishment for wronging them is by far more severe than taking a chid. Yikes!

Source: Prefix

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85 thoughts on “Seven Crimes With Smaller Fines Than Pirating

  1. The main point of everyones wrongness is that it is not stealing. it is copyright infringement. its the same as copying a book and handing it out o a class, not eery kid paid for the book and normally they would have, so the company loses money.

    stealing is more of a term where you take something that is not yours and the person loses it. copyright is when the person has it but you copy it, and they want compensation for their hard work.

  2. @ Jeremy K.

    i must have said stealing requires deprivation. thanks for the correction.

    and still, sharing doesn’t cause deprivation. you say “you are depriving somebody of something, the money they are deserved for that copyrighted material they own.” you assume that people would definitely pay for that material if it wasn’t shared. well, assuming is half-way to a mistake. and who can say, for sure, the copyrighted material is worth the money asked?

    if there is a crime there must be a victim and nobody can prove that there is a victim because of sharing. if you have proof, enlighten me.

    if there is something people like out there they support it, according to their ability (if they choose to) if nobody supports it, it fades. nothing should be taken for granted including the money paid for a movie ticket. it must be illegal to charge beforehand for a mystery box.

    PS: great set of info sources there for the definition on stealing(theft). i wonder what proudhon had to say about theft.

  3. John –

    The idea behind the “piracy” (an incorrect use of the term to begin with…) penalties for illegal downloads is based on a theory of compounded damages that works something like this: 1) We lose a metric s-load of money on illegal downloads, 2) It is only economically feasible to pursue and prosecute a VERY small percentage of those that download illegally 3) Since we can never afford to catch and prosecute everyone, then we will only go after the most blatant and easiest to catch 4) Once we have them, we can make them pay restitution for the damage they cause, and, while we’re at it, we’ll make them pay for the damage caused by all the other illegal downloaders that we haven’t or won’t bother putting out the cash to track down and prosecute; after all, this guilty downloader obviously used and benefited from the services of all the other guilty downloaders and is therefore liable by association.

    The legal logic all makes sense up until step 4; you cannot hit someone with compound damages based upon association with another actually liable party. Its cuckoo, but the EntLaw legal lobbyists have somehow convinced someone to buy it.

  4. Piracy is stealing, there is no arguing that. However there have been many times in the past where it necessary to do something ILLEGAL to inspire social change.

    If anyone here thinks that digitally viewable media (iTunes, Hulu, etc.) would not be where they are today if not for piracy they are simply retarded. All of these digital services are available as a RESPONSE to piracy and if not for piracy we would probably be waiting another century for the industry to catch up.

    The fact is piracy is more a form of civil disobedience than anything else.

    Personally I have pirated stuff, I won’t be shy about it either because services that were made available to others were not made available to me. iTunes is only now offering TV Shows to Canadians, so in the past couple of years I have gotten TV shows and movies by other means. Now that they offer these services, however, I am indeed paying for them.

    The fact is nothing would have changed if piracy wasn’t so strong. Piracy was the call from consumers for media providers to get their act together- and some of them have. That is all.

  5. If downloading a movie is ilegal, then downloading a song or even a bloody picture also is, so… who can tell me that has never ever downloaded a single tiny little pic? Why is there any difference between downloading a whole movie and an image? In both cases you are “taking” something without having paid at. If you buy a movie and show it to your friends, are you breaking the law? They didn’t pay for it.

    Of course I know piracy will eventually doom entertainment industry, I don’t like it (I don’t actually dislike it either), but there is nothing you can do about it.

    And I say this because I reckon you would have to consider other cases than the US. If you’d just walk two blocks in any place in south america you’d see what I mean. They sell it on the street, more than that, they display copies on the street… on main streets by the way. Sellers just lay their copies on the sidewalk, so you can approach and check them. The main problem ain’t them, they are like small dealers to teenagers. The thing is that people is idiotic, they don’t care about movies, they don’t mind if the copy has a shitty quality or (even worst) if it is dubbed, they just want to watch it as soon as possible and spending the lesser amount of money on it.

    It is said that the internet is the most democratic media. You can’t control internet users all over the world. If what they do is wrong (or at least you think it is wrong) don’t attack them (certainly don’t call them “pathetic”), because they won’t listen what you have to say. (By the way I don’t think you are right, law is not clear at all when it comes to multimedia copyright issues, but…)

    “I wouldn’t steal a car, but I would certainly download one from the internet”

  6. piracy piracy piracy. it’s not piracy. it’s not stealing. stealing means to deprive someone of something.

    it’s sharing. when you share music, movies you don’t deprive nobody of them. on the contrary you make someone have ’em too.

    you wanna make money from movies? show them in a theater and charge for tickets. what a revolutionary idea, right? if the theater is up to par people will want to experience the movie there. you wanna sell the copies? do so. if people think your product is worth a second round, or maybe they like the extra features, they will buy, kching! you made money.

    and that’s what is happening now too. and the profits are going up too. ( hollywoodreporter.com/hr/content_display/news/e3ic5575a8c4f61aadd68a0d344f476d5da )

    can anyone argue, with facts and studies, that’s “in spite of” sharing. maybe it’s “with the help of” sharing. can anyone know for sure, and can back it up? speak up.

    if you have no proof that sharing hurts the business, and still b!tching about it then YOU are PATHETIC.

    you wanna make money from music.

    you are talented? play on the street, people will donate if they like the music, or play at a bar-pub-cafe-etc, if you can make the manager believe you are good enough. and if the crowd too hugs you, you are almost famous my man.

    you are not only talented but creative too? go to the studio, record something, put it on the net, if people like it, there you have a crowd, give concerts. kching!

    you are a record company? go f**k yourselves. no one needs you anymore you leeches.

    now another issue. some days ago there was an article on a blog (maybe this one) about the ticket prices. i watched wolverine recently and it sucked for me. what will happen to my 10$ and the 2 hours of my life. i want my money and my time back. is that too much to ask? i mean, at first glance it looks crazy but if you think about it, they sell you a hype with no money back guaranties. when i buy a set of knives from telemarketing i can return them their scrap metal for full money back, no questions asked, but when you buy a ticket the story is different.

    and i ask again what about the 2 hours of my life. is this not a crime? when a government wrongfully prisons someone, the victim is paid a compensation. what about me? i’m not kidding.

    last words: just because you made a movie and i watched the movie, it doesn’t automatically make me owe you something. it might even make you owe me something.

    1. And despite how long winded and ignorant this whole comment is, all he did was prove that you can babble empty justifications all you want but that still doesn’t change the FACTS.

      Piracy is illegal. You have done nothing to disprove that. All you did is describe why you feel justified in your crimes.

      Tell it to the judge and see how that goes.

      1. what are those “FACTS”? since i’m so ignorant enlighten me.

        “Piracy(i prefer sharing) is illegal.” what a discovery! i’m not arguing it’s not. i’m saying it’s wrong that it’s illegal. see my previous posts about law.

        and i don’t remember admitting to any crime or promoting it.

        PS: sharing is not illegal throughout the world but you think that u.s.a. is the world. so narrow minded.

      2. “stealing means to deprive someone of something.”

        American Heritage Dictionary – Steal
        “To take (the property of another) without right or permission.”

        Merriam-Webster Dictionary – Steal
        “to take the property of another wrongfully and especially as a habitual or regular practice”

        Dictionary.com – Steal
        “to take (the property of another or others) without permission or right, esp. secretly or by force: A pickpocket stole his watch.”

        The list goes on, but I think you get the point. Your definition is not a definition, it’s merely an often outcome. Whether music, movies, software or whatever, if it is copyrighted then it is owned. If that owned property is distributed in a means not authorized by the owner/s of that copyright, then those that get it are stealing it plain and simple as going by the definition of the word “steal”. And honestly, you are depriving somebody of something, the money they are deserved for that copyrighted material they own.

  7. Way to go hypocrite Campea! He claims he has a legal right to burn a copy of a movie he bought? Yet it is illegal to circumvent the copy protection on the DVD. So if John is making a “backup” of a movie he is using software that removes said copy protection. He is committing piracy!

    1. Oh RansomBetty, your ignorance really is entertaining.

      I would suggest you look some laws up before making a fool of yourself.

      In Canada, it is LEGAL to make an archive back up of your legally purchased and owned DVDs.

      I own nothing that I did not pay for. So explain to me how this is piracy?

      And even if I did it in the US… yes, that would be violating a law there… but it’s still not Piracy.

      Wow… you really are dumb aren’t you?

      1. I am simply making a point John. If you make a “backup” of a DVD regardless of if you bought it or not you are breaking the law. It is piracy once you make that “backup” regardless of how you intend to use it.

        pi·ra·cy : the unauthorized use of another’s production, invention, or conception especially in infringement of a copyright.

        The movie studios do NOT authorize you to make “backups” of DVDs. If they intended that DVD Copy X Software wouldn’t have been sued into oblivion by movie studios. Studios make no profit from your “backups” and therefore would go after you in the same way they attack people who they catch downloading over the internet. The problem with you is that you make blanket statements about what piracy is without even realizing that you are breaking the law yourself. So by your logic it is ok to take an extra ice cream bar as long as you’ve paid for the first one?

  8. Isn’t ‘piracy’ a copyright violation which is not legally a criminal offense like theft? You have to pick what you’re going to go by when deciding whether you think its theft or not – the law or more general intuitions. I believe that protecting copyrights within a reasonable frame of time is important, but does this need to be a made a criminal offense – I don’t think so.

    “if we were the owners of the property rights, wouldn’t we want as much as we could for our “pain and loss”

    I would want to be fairly compensated and not more. I have no interest in ruining someone else’s life to scrape ever dime I could out of a situation.

  9. Really pointless to debate these Piracy laws which were bought and paid for by the powerful Music and Movie industry. I do think there should be Piracy laws, just not these extremist laws that are currently dictated by special groups and lobbyists.

  10. a south american saying goes like: an enemy is subjected to law, a friend is treated just.

    what’s legal and illegal has nothing to do with justice but only the benefit of the powerful.

    1. The problem with that statement is that it’s almost always a just thing to be dutiful and respect those in power by abiding by their laws.

      In addition, some laws are just and some are not. There’s a little more to it than who’s got the power and who doesn’t.

      1. “The problem with that statement is that it’s almost always a just thing to be dutiful and respect those in power by abiding by their laws.”

        i did not state or suggest such a thing but if you say that “it’s almost always a just thing to be dutiful and respect those in power by abiding by their laws” you are only a little more than a slave.

        “some laws are just and some are not. There’s a little more to it than who’s got the power and who doesn’t.” if you really believe that who’s got the power has little to do with it they’ve got you bad.

  11. Its a common practice John, all you need to look at is three criminals from football. here’s their crimes try to think of the logical order, then look at each sentence:

    1. Ran a dog fighting ring
    2. Got drunk and high, drove, hit and killed a person
    3. Wore a hidden gun in their sweatpants and shot themselves.

    The sentences:

    1. 23 months of Jail
    2. 26 Days, yes days, in jail.
    3. 24 months in Jail.

    1. Stallworth while drunk was not the only one to blame. The pedestrian was walking illegally across the road at the time of the accident.

  12. I have a couple of skewed takes on piracy, and frankly agree that piracy is a problem for the RIAA. Their business model has been absolutely killed by high speed internet the first by the Napsterization “sharing” sites, and continuing with torrent sites.

    However, the underlying problem with the recording industry is very much like the economic problems we see every day. I know people in the music industry who make very little by way of pay, while the artists also see very little of the profit from the music from sales (excepting the top 1% of artists, who can obviously use their negotiating power more effectively). Most Artists make their money on tour.

    I believe that the MPAA is a bit worried that their model might waver, and in that respect they are doing extremely well, with record revenues and plenty of packed screens the last few years.

    I contend and believe that if I purchase a song, whether the media I purchased it on be LP, 8-track, cassette, CD or DVD-Audio, that means I OWN a license to change the media that song is designed for in the future. Of course, the recording industry seems to think that we should have to restart or rebuy or collections with each new step of technology, since they’d make more money that way, also remember that the costs of the media has gotten incrementally smaller in the last 25 years. Meanwhile, the product has continued to increase in price.

    I feel exactly the same way about movies, if I purchased it on Beta, VHS, DVD, LaserDisc, HD-DVD or Blu-Ray, I own a license of that movie. Conversely, prices of movies has continued to plunge, although the first couple of months, the prices are a bit higher. But you can find lots of quality movies for under $5.

  13. wow JOHN
    that is messed up,
    It’s true Pirating is wrong, though I still do it,

    But its more crime than murdering someone :o

    By the way if its 2 million dollar, how long in the jail ?

  14. Dudes, pirating is stealing. Streaming an online movie is stealing. Some people won’t get that it’s wrong until they work their ass off and make a movie, only to have it leaked online.

    Now as for the system with all those fines, yeah that’s messed up.

  15. Holy shit, this is ridiculous….thanks for posting this John. I would never even think to compare the fines to other crimes to see the difference.

    Amazing….

  16. It’s stealing, it’s wrong, but I don’t care. I have very little respect for the majority of Hollywood and the HUGE amount of arrogance that goes on.

  17. Absolutely agree pirating is stealing. The very definition of stealing is to take (the property of another) without right or permission.

    However. You can’t say one form of piracy is ok while another is absolutely not.

    You say, “Pirating is stealing. Flat out. Plain and simple. Any justification drivel about it is just pathetic.”

    Then say, “Don’t bloody tell me I can’t back up a DVD I bought and paid for.”

    What you bought and paid for is the original copy of the movie, the disk it is on, and the packaging it came in. What you didn’t pay for is the backup copy you made. So you now own 2 copies of the movie but only paid for 1. That my friend is the exact same thing as someone downloading a movie and watching it for free.

    As many have said before Piracy is not black and white. There are many what if scenarios that might show it as something that is OK to do but other scenarios that make not OK. The studio’s use this scare tactic to try and persuade people to not steal their stuff in any form. You want 2 copies of a movie. But another one. Don’t want to pay $12 dollars to see a movie you’re not sure if you’ll enjoy or not. To bad.

    I really don’t think piracy is hurting the industry at all. What it does hurt is shitty movies that no one would have gone and seen to begin with.

    Look at Wolverine for instance. It was leaked a month or so before it was released in theaters. But still made almost 90 million opening weekend. Which was more then what X-men and X-men 2 pulled in. Does anyone honestly believe had that movie not been release online it would have done any better?

    I actually think it made that much because it was leaked. I think more people go and see movies even if they had already watched it online then people realize.

    I also think DVD sales are better due to piracy. Those of us who wouldn’t have given a movie a chance in the theater. Decides to download it and watch it. Ends up liking it then goes out and buys it on DVD.

    Not to mention the fact that more people today go and watch movies in the theater despite the fact that many could just download it and watch it online. If you look at most of the best opening weekends of all time. They are all newer films. What I mean by that is within the last 5 years.
    As long as your movie is good it will put people in the seats.

    So I agree with you that piracy is stealing. But all forms of piracy is stealing. You can’t just pick and choose which is a crime and which is not. Simply because you don’t feel it is. And Piracy isn’t as big of a deal that you and many others make it out to be. It can is some cases help the industry. Whether it’s to help promote it or give people a chance to see it. It’s not going anywhere. Until they find a way to beam the movie directing into your head. People will find a way to watch it for free.

    1. Rob D
      I’m going to have to HUGELY disagree with your comment – “What you bought and paid for is the original copy of the movie, the disk it is on, and the packaging it came in. What you didn’t pay for is the backup copy you made. So you now own 2 copies of the movie but only paid for 1. That my friend is the exact same thing as someone downloading a movie and watching it for free.”
      This is wrong. First, because of the fact that “John” paid for a DVD entitles him to create a copy for himself, “FOR PERSONAL USE ONLY”. He is only breaking the piracy laws if he; a) gives it (copy) to a friend; b) sells it (copy); or c) promotes it (copy) by publicly displaying it (this argument is based on the usually standard copyright holder notification found on personal DVD’s, and not one sent out to companies that have distribution rights to rent/reproduce/sell).
      Internet distribution, whether knowingly or not, is breaking that law. If you allow access to your computer to share its content, you are authorizing the distribution of that content which you are meant to protect.
      Personal opinion doesn’t factor into LAW. Yes, there’s different interpretations, however, the judges understand the laws they are upholding, whereas, laymen, may not. Don’t confuse opinion with interpretation.
      In the discussion about downloading being the same as copying your purchased DVD, this again is flawed logic. A purchased DVD entitles the owner, whereas, a downloaded copy is PUBLIC DISTRIBUTION by the person originally putting it onto the web. That’s one of the parts that make it illegal.
      Download/Movie Piracy falls under Copyright Infringement.
      Copyright infringement (or copyright violation) is the unauthorized use of material that is covered by copyright law, in a manner that violates one of the copyright owner’s exclusive rights, such as the right to reproduce or perform the copyrighted work, or to make derivative works.
      More
      United States copyright law governs the legally enforceable rights of creative and artistic works under the laws of the United States.
      Copyright law in the United States is part of federal law, and is authorized by the U.S. Constitution. The power to enact copyright law is granted in Article I, Section 8, Clause 8, also known as the Copyright Clause, which states:
      The Congress shall have Power [. . .] To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.

      Yes, the fine for the lady who downloaded 24 songs is severely harsh, but then again, if we were the owners of the property rights, wouldn’t we want as much as we could for our “pain and loss”?

      1. “The ability to create copies of the media you’ve purchased for personal use is a long-accepted facet of the fair-use doctrine in U.S. copyright law (at least, it used to be). However, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) states that it’s illegal to break the CSS copy-protection mechanism employed by most commercial DVD movies. What does that mean? Most fair-use advocates say that the policy directly contradicts U.S. copyright law, but the DMCA seems to indicate that you cannot make a copy of a commercial DVD, even for personal use, and you certainly cannot give a copied DVD to anyone or watch copied DVD files on your computer. We assume that fair use will eventually catch up and be established as a safety valve for consumers (which has been the pattern with previous technologies, such as VHS), but for now, the territory is still uncertain and a bit dangerous.”

  18. I agree that two million is pretty insane, but for what it’s worth, Jammie Thomas wasn’t subject to fines, she was subject to a lawsuit. Comparing a lawsuit forfeiture to criminal fines is sort of apples and oranges

  19. As i understand it in the uk downloading illegally is Not theft as that requires you to physically deprive someone of something, the correct offense is copyright infringement, the media companies always assume everyone who downloaded a movie would have paid full price if they couldnt get it for free, which is blatantly ridiculous.

  20. I tried to refer to the post where John said that girl should get jail time for recording 2 minutes of Transformers on her phone to show her little brother. Doesn’t seem to be in the archives though so I guess it couldn’t be used as a legal precedent.

  21. Well what about DVR? Especially if you record something off HBO with no commercials. I can watch it as many times as I want without paying for it. All I paid for was cable, which is no different than paying for the internet and watching something

    1. Accept for the fact that the station and cable provider are contracted with each other, and the use of DVRs are something that fall in those contracts. Not to mention that stuff on a DVR are not as easily exploitable as items downloaded via the Internet.

      In fact, I don’t even know how your going about trying to claim they are the same thing when they so obviously are not.

      1. Comes down to this. DVR is legal. Watching a TV show via something like the broadcasting channels website or Hulu is legal. Downloading pirated software, music, movies is illegal. Why are the legal one legal? Because studios have signed contracts with other companies to legally allow the viewing in these manners. Pirating is done illegally without permission from the legal holders.

      2. Jeremy,

        I think the point is that like DVR’s, watching a movie at a friend’s house for free that he rented, hearing an arena concert from the parking lot, etc… are all examples of things that are “ok.” But other forms of viewing movies or listening to music are illegal with a crime that is WAY over the top. So the point is, should it still be illegal? Or should it only be illegal if you violate the copywright or sell it to make a profit?

        Basically, the point is, should we revisit our notion of what is “illegal” and what isn’t? Where people with tape drives sued for $2 million in 80’s when they tape recorded the radio?

        I like what the one poster above said when he said litenership/viewership is a complicated thing.

        It’s true, it’s complicated and the law right now is lopsided and defies common sense. The law should be relaxed a bit.

      3. I did not read anything of what you just said in Corey’s comment, and don’t say you have to read between the lines… cause that is pure BS.

      4. “watching a movie at a friend’s house for free that he rented”

        There is no ownership here. It is a rental and the agreements that come with that is that the movie is for a private showing. Having a friends or family over to watch a movie is still a private showing. Unrestricted viewing like displaying the movie on huge screen projected on the side a blimp flying over New York city on the other hand, that is not so private anymore.

        “hearing an arena concert from the parking lot”

        At a concert your paying for entry. You are paying to get through the door of the venue or access into the area the concert is being performed. You are paying to see the concert. If studios, venues, or anybody else involved was worried about people outside being able to hear what is going on inside then the venue would be sound proofed or there would be cops/security around the outside forcing people to move along.

        These are not even close to the same thing as downloading music/movies from the internet knowing they are copyrighted and should be legally purchased. Not even close to the same thing as making available copyrighted material that should be legally purchased available to the public without legal consent.

        “Where people with tape drives sued for $2 million in 80’s when they tape recorded the radio?”

        Your talking about something that was virtually untrackable in the 80s to something that is much easier to track today. You can barely compare the two.

        I honestly don’t find the law lacking common sense. However, excessive penalty reaching into the millions for merely downloading something that would of cost a mere $20~30 is a bit difficult to understand.

      5. Jeremy,

        I was not trying to say those things are the same. What I was saying is that there are unlimited ways to view or listen to media. The law is very relaxed for some things and very strict on others. For instance no one sued people for recording movies on VHS, no one sued for taping the radio and editing out the comercials. There are literally too many combinations.

        Now, when it comes to online downloading (not just sharing) all of the sudden the person is the worst criminal in the book deserving $2 mil in fines.

        I am no lawyer or MAFIAA employee, but, it would seem to me that the targets should be those that actually make a profit off of it. I think the whole “making available” is lame and really punishes the big music/movie fans that actually buy more media anyway. I think it’s too strict of an interpretation.

        I think just like using a DVR, as consumers we should also be able to make a backup copy of something we bought, and we should be able to download music.

        However, I think the studios are going about it all wrong. I think they should make their entire music and movie catalogs available for free. They should flood the net with legit but downgraded product. Then people can sample, experiment, try out, and if they like it they buy high quality versions. I also think that they should offer all media in a DRMless environment so if I buy a download movie I can play it on any PC.

        I think the way they go about it should be to give more and then make the stuff you buy higher quality.

        The thing is, sure people will share stuff, they always have and always will. But the real money isn’t suing people that share, whether we are talking tapes in the old days or mp3s now. The money is in making compelling products that people buy.

        Think about it, no matter how much people download, the cost of storing and downloading all that starts to eat into the value when you could just buy a song for $0.99 or DVD for $9.99 or rent it. Well, that’s the thing most people do end up renting, then buying, even in multiple formats (DVD then blu-ray). So the studios are really still making the money.

        I know most of the people I know that “acquire” and “share” online are some of the biggest purchasers and enthusiasts of movies and music.

        In the end, I think the law has been hijacked by corporate interests and is being applied unfairly.

  22. No understanding of the concept of deterrence in this post. I saw this post on Digg yesterday and was hoping TMB would rise above this drivel.

    1. I don’t think the concept of deterrence is in question here, it’s more the fact that the penalty (specifically the $2mil fine) for this crime appears a bit out there when compared to crimes that “seem” far worse having a much lower penalty. In fact, I would go so far as to say that deterrence is not even at question here, it’s the degree of punishment that is.

      1. It’s not that simple – law doesn’t always work in an “eye for an eye” way.

        In this case, the “abuse” was very widespread and costly (according to record companies, etc.), so under their pressure the Legislature made the fines very large to make a point.

        A $2M fine against a girl who downloads a few songs is NOT fair, I agree. But the primary purpose of copyright violation fines isn’t fairness. Instead, they’re meant to send a message to the rest of the “violators” out there and make them think twice before DLing anything. Deterrence.

        Think the McDonalds coffee case as another example of deterrence (in reverse this time). McD’s had a long and documented history of ignoring customers’ burn complaints. The courts didn’t give the plaintiff the value of her medical costs. They gave her (and her lawyers) a massive amount of money to make a point to McD’s. Big fine = big news = people and corporations take notice.

      2. At the same time, though, should not the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution apply here which should protect her. This being: “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” It does seem like an excessive fine to set an example for deterrence.

        It’s one thing to fine as a deterrent, it’s something completely different to use a case to set an example to the public.

      3. Is it possible that the record and movie companies that are the victims here have been using a lot of lobbying money and political favors to make the penalty on this more signifigant than maybe it should be?

        That seems more likely than the “widespread” abuse factor.

  23. Pretty crazy the difference in penalties for crimes that seem far worse than pirating music yet have a much stiffer fines.

    That said, though. I remember reading something when the news came out about this lady. Not sure if it is true or not. What I read was that she was one of several people that were getting charged. All but her took a deal resulting in several thousands dollars fines. She pleaded not guilty, and losing resulted in the millions dollars fine. I’m sure she didn’t expect to lose, but damn if this is true I would be kicking myself for not taking the deal.

      1. What’s not to understand?

        1) Amazing how worse crimes have less of a penalty.
        2) I remember reading something, but don’t know if it was true.
        4) Supposedly she was one of several people charged.
        5) Everybody but her took an offered deal to pay several thousand dollars.
        6) She pleaded not guilty and lost resulting in a multimillion dollar fine.
        7) If this is true, then I would be kicking myself if I was her for not taking the deal.

        Any clearer, there?

  24. You know there’s something wrong with our society when downloading movies is more severe than killing or robbing someone. Its funny, if you added up the amount of money from the fines for all 7 of those crimes, it still won’t equal $2 million.

  25. Hey John and Rodney,

    Your opinions please: in Canada, the Supreme Court ruled that downloading music online isn’t illegal because it’s the same as “going to the library and photocopying pages from a book.” As long as the intended use is personal and not for profit, then downloading music is considered acceptable.

    If the Canadian court made a similar ruling with movie downloads, would that sway your opinion? Do you think a similar ruling could be made, or is there a huge differentiation between downloading music and movies?

    Thanks – love the site.

  26. I agree with Marps, you can’t just look at the monetary penalty. I’d much rather be fined large sums of money than spend 20 years in prison.

  27. John, is the penalty for Child Abduction just $25,000, or is the jail time as well? I ask because if you are getting 10 years on top of the 25000, well, that’s a pretty stiff fine.

    I agree the 2 mil fine for piracy was very high, but let’s not make the others smaller just by displaying the monetary fine. There is a fine to society that is paid in freedom as well.

  28. Really, can you expect an endgame anything less than cancer from a corporation? It’s just one corporate piss off of many

  29. In some countries [mine for example:Guyana], some video stores are selling pirated stuff. There is no stringent copyright law here and persons don’t know how or where to get original DVDs/CDs. And in most cases you don’t know if it’s pirated or not. I mean, you can’t go up to the person and say
    Do you sell pirated films?…how insulting…

    1. Also, I have a friend who lives in Hong Kong and they primarily buy and sell “VCD’s” which are bootleg versions of movie on DVD and they always come as a double disk. He would come to boarding school with big fat CD case full of the things. It might not even be America that’s doing the most pirating.

  30. “Pirating is stealing. Flat out. Plain and simple. Any justification drivel about it is just pathetic.”
    You know, just stating your opinion with a bit of stubbornness and a couple of insults doesn’t make it worth anything if you don’t back it up with some reasoning. I’m sure you have some, but don’t expect anyone to take your word for it.

    1. “You know, just stating your opinion with a bit of stubbornness and a couple of insults doesn’t make it worth anything if you don’t back it up with some reasoning”

      “Any justification drivel about it is just pathetic.”

      Were you trying to be ironic?

      1. Heh. Well, I didn’t actually say anything insulting per se, and I my reasoning is that an opinion is worthless without reasoning. Maybe if I’d said “Just cuz you say its so like a dick don’t make it!”.

  31. 1. sharing 1,702tracks, caught for 24
    2. 9,250 for each song (24)retrial
    3. $80,000 per song =$2 mil
    4. $750 per song should be the final deal.
    5. I guess Wikipedia has a better source than Prefix. Wikipedia is far from perfect(Irish Student’s Wikipedia Prank) but it doesn’t leave important facts under the carpet.

    I’m not gonna pay 2 mil for 24 songs, are you?

  32. “Any justification drivel about it is just pathetic.”… “Don’t bloody tell me I can’t back up a DVD I bought and paid for”

    I’m not disagreeing with you about backing up DVDs John, I think you’re absolutely right. Hhowever, I don’t agree that piracy is a completely inexcusable “crime”, because it’s really such a hard ‘crime’ to define, with a lot of grey areas still.

    The problem is, there isn’t a clear message about what piracy is. On one hand studios show movies on TV for free. Yet if you watch a movie online it could be considered ‘stealing’. On one hand music is played for free on the radio. Yet if you download it to listen to, its a crime. If I copy my CD to my iPod it’s fine, but if I burn the same CD to play in my CD player it’s a crime.

    Piracy is not black and white. Why is someone else’s justification automatically “pathetic”, but your expectation of being able to back up a DVD more reasonable? When a product is given away one minute, then being considered ‘stolen’ the next, you’re not giving a clear message to the public.

    Sure, they could invest millions more into stupid advertisements telling us all exactly what piracy is and isn’t… but, instead of trying to threaten people into not ‘stealing’, effort should just be put into making it more desirable to pay for the products.

    Instead of spending money on anti-piracy ads and lawsuits, pump that money into promoting cinemas or blu-ray technology, and convince people to SPEND money on your product.

    Studios need to accepted that just because someone downloads a movie, doesn’t mean that same cheapskate would have paid for it otherwise under any circumstances. So even though he’s getting a free movie by ‘stealing’, unlike a physical product being stolen, the studios aren’t losing anything when someone ‘steals’ a downloaded file. To a degree they need to accept this as a part of life, and move on. Because the effort spent stopping piracy is not going to result in them getting more money.

    I did find this post very amusing though. Absurd to think that if Jammie Thomas had robbed a CD store at gunpoint and shot the owner… she could potentially have gotten a lesser penalty.

    1. I would add that with the assumption that the person who downloaded the movie would not pay for the movie if he was unable to download it then I would argue that the studios actually gain something. They gain word of mouth. That is what happened with Battlestar Galactica, it was originally a mini series but do to popularity of the movie as a result of online downloads, they were able to have several seasons of the show. Or at least that is what I have heard.

      1. Intention doesn’t forgive the crime.

        “assumption that the person who downloaded the movie would not pay for the movie”

        Sorry, you are not assuming they wouldn’t pay for it, they already proved they didn’t pay when they downloaded it.

    2. Well put.

      ‘Stealing’ is the wrong word. The crime is equivalent to reading a book at the bookstore. Not that it is justified, but punishment should be proportional to the crime, that is the price of the product plus a modest fine.

    3. My basic thought is if the movie trailer or teh premise of the movie isn’t going to get me up out of the couch, i’m not going to rent or buy the dvd, so might as well download to see if it’s even mildly entertaining. if its not, thats the end and it stops taking up space on my harddrive. If it does turn out to be good, i tell people about it and tell them they should get it, then go buy the DVD (or a small amount of the time go see it in theaters)

      Because no matter how I have my TV setup, or which HD rip i download, it always looks better in theaters and i have more fun watching it.

    4. Totally agree. John and Rodney are understandbly against “piracy”, this is a movie blog after all. But statements like “Any justification drivel about it is just pathetic.” are disappointing from a couple of normally reasonable guys. I invite them to inquire into the nature of ownership, the nature of entertainment, the business models of past and present entertainment industry, they will see that this is not a black and white issue. Though I do agree with them that “piracy” at its present form is not good for business.

      As far as the argument that this is not an opinion but fact, because piracy is illegal. It is illegal in some places for women to show their faces in public. I would argue that because it is the law “Any justification drivel about it is just pathetic”

      The only common sense clear cut view of the transfer, ownership, and distribution of intellectual property is that it is complex.

      really enjoy the blog. thanks for all the great work. I understand John and Rodney can’t not show anything but the most extreme stance on “piracy” because of their position. readers should know that as well.

    5. Movies aren’t played on TV for free. Networks acquired the rights to broadcast it.

      Music isn’t played on the radio for free. Stations pay ASCAP and BMI royalties based on air-play.

    1. You can try and rationalize all you want. It is.

      Anything you say that triest to make it sound like downloading isn’t stealing will just make you look dumb, so please don’t try.

      1. thank you, I will.

        Stealing is taking something from someone without them wanting it. meaning they don’t have it anymore.

        Pirating is copying.

        Stealing is what the movie makers do when they charge us high prices for their crap movies.

      2. Tiglet, your “definition” of stealing is very self created and self serving.

        Someone created something meant for sale. Are you taking it without paying for it or without their permission? Yeah… that’s stealing. Period.

      3. And charging a high price for your own film isn’t stealing. It’s your prerogative. I mean, for gosh’s sakes it’s your movie, and you can charge however much you want for it.

      4. @Tiglet
        If you think a movie is crap, you have no reason to buy OR download it.
        If it’s not good enough to buy, it’s not good enough to download as well.
        If you think it was good but not worth the price, then it wasn’t that good.
        If you think it was really really good but you’re going to download it anyway, you should pick the money you use to pay your internet and move it to the movie.
        If you claim you don’t have money to pay for it so downloading was the only option, where do you get money to pay the internet?

        Did I forget any scenario?

        Also, your definition of stealing came from which law?

      5. Is this stealing?

        My friend from work buys the new Coldplay CD and copies the CD to his work laptop so he can listen to it while he works.

        While talking to him on our work’s version of MSN/AIM, he suggest I check it out.

        So using a company software, he transfers the CD’s mp3s to my work laptop and I listen to it.

        Did I just steal the CD? Or did I borrow it from a friend?

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