Today, a Minnesota court found Jammie Thomas liable for copyright infringement. You might think that the 24 songs the jury found her liable for sharing could have easily resulted in $500, even $1000 in lost RIAA revenues from those dastardly pirates who, were she never to have made the songs available, would have promptly marched down to their local Best Buy and bought them at MSRP.
You’d likely be right. But you’d be missing the real reason the court set the single mother’s total liability at the sum of $222,000. It wasn’t just US Copyright Law — it allowed for, but did not stipulate the specific amount. Rather, the crippling amount was mandated by the cosmos themselves.
In this great land of America, there are corporations and there are consumers. Corporations make things for the consumer — and it is the consumer’s divinely-assigned duty to consume them. This is not merely economics at work, as the study of economics is but the observation of the perfect and unchanging relationship between the benevolent wisdom of the corporation and the faithful obedience of the consumer.
When this relationship is upset, as it was in Thomas’ case, the matter is far graver than one of compensating the corporation for what may have been lost due to the consumer’s misdeeds. Such a model of justice might apply for a consumer who has wronged one of his humble consumer brethren. But Thomas’ victim was not her peer in the grand order. That the plaintiff did not demand her very blood as payment speaks only of the vast mercy of the corporation.
If Jammie Thomas must forfeit her home and raise her children in poverty as a result of this judgment, alas, so it must be. Her sins were not merely against the record labels. They were against the very order of the universe itself.
Photo from Bucknell University
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