Does the punishment fit the file-sharing crime?

A jury ruled today that Brainerd resident Jammie Thomas-Rasset willfully violated the copyrights on 24 songs. The price tag? $80,000 per song, or $1.92 million. If you agree the average song lasts approximately three and a half minutes, that amounts to approximately $380 per second of downloaded music.

Thomas-Rasset says it’s unlikely the plaintiffs (Warner Music Group Corp., Vivendi SA’s Universal Music Group, EMI Group PLC and Sony Corp.’s Sony Music Entertainment) will ever see the money, since she’s the mother of four kids and has little means.

So what does the decision mean for people who share music files on the web, and for the recording industry? Will it inspire these major corporations to pursue more lawsuits? Will it scare people off of file-sharing?

Some advocates of file-sharing say it doesn’t hurt the music industry, and in fact many musicians make their songs available for free on the internet. So who will win out in the long run? Who are you supporting?

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