Thomas Jury votes for the Rule of Law
WASHINGTON D.C. - Yesterday, a jury entered a $220,000 verdict in favor of the plaintiffs in the first file-sharing case to go to a jury trial. The following statement may be attributed to Tom Sydnor, Senior Fellow and Director of the Center for the Study of Digital Property at The Progress & Freedom Foundation:
"Yesterday, the jury in Capitol Records v. Thomas voted in favor of both the plaintiffs and the rule of law. The jury’s verdict sends two important messages.
"First, by rejecting the defendant’s a-neighbor-could-have-done-it defense, the jury indicated that the holder of an internet-access account is responsible for illegal uses of their account. This helps dispel the myth that you can download with impunity and then blame on your roommate when get caught.
"Second, by awarding damages of $9250 per song—well above the $750-per-song minimum—the jury spoke to both the illegality and immorality of unauthorized downloading.
"Some say that this verdict will not deter file-sharing because the number of people using file-sharing programs has increased since the lawsuits began. They miss the point. The defendant here was sued because she was allegedly uploading over 1700 songs. Studies show that the percentage of users uploading files on these networks has plunged since the lawsuits began. As users learn to stop uploading infringing files, the problem of infringing downloaders will resolve itself.
"Today’s verdict should also send a message to distributors of file-sharing programs. Yet again, a consumer made an utterly foreseeable use of a file-sharing program and suffered dire consequences. Distributors that care about their users will get the hint and start using the best-available technology to prevent infringing uses of their programs and networks.
"Some distributors will refuse to hear this message. As a result, some future jury will have to send an even more powerful message to show how Americans really feel about corporations that distribute dangerous toys to children and single mothers, profit from their misuse, and then cry crocodile tears over the predictable results."
Sydnor is available for comment. Please contact Amy Smorodin at 202-289-8928 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.