With the news about the recent decisions in both the Joel Tennenbaum case and the Jammie Thomas Rasset case, there has been a lot of uninformed complaining going on. The biggest error among the misinformed is this: they think people were fined for downloading music.
In most articles you’ll read online, the act of downloading is the focus, like this one over at Gizmodo. I understand that a lot of people online like to steal music, and that they’re upset that some people got in trouble for it – but the fact is, they’re wrong about what the people got in trouble for. The people (Tennenbaum and Thomas-Rasset) got in trouble for downloading and distributing music. They were found to do so willingly, and while knowing that to do so was illegal.
In fact, Tennenbaum continued to download and share music after he was contacted by the RIAA, after his father told him he should stop, and even after the lawsuit was filed. Regardless of how long he did it though, he was found guilty of knowingly distributing other peoples’ property without a license and without compsensation.
I really don’t have too much more to say on the subject at this point, other than that they were not fined $675,000 (Tennenbaum) and $1.92 million (Thomas-Rassett) for just downloading music. They were actively engaged in the distribution of copyright-protected materials to potentially millions of other people.
Neither of these was a case of “a fan who just wanted to listen to their favorite music” – they were cases where people took stuff that wasn’t theirs, gave it away to more people, and then ignored opportunities to settle out of court for minute amounts of money, all because they somehow felt it was their right to take things that didn’t belong to them and to make copies for everyone else.