Imagine going into a store and stealing two CDs. As you leave the store, you get caught. Rather than just take you to the back, humiliatingly strip search you, scare you with threats of litigation, and letting you loose, they take you do trial.
So far, seems fair. Somehow it ends up in federal court. Strange… The jury finds you guilty, because let’s face it: you did it. The penalty: $1.9 million.
That’s essentially what happened to Jammie Thomas-Rasset, except she never even went into a store. On Thursday, a federal jury fined Jammie $80,000 for each of the 24 songs she downloaded (equivalent to two CD’s of music).
What the hell is wrong with our copyright law? This is not only a blatantly absurd penalty on a $20-30 dollar theft (each song can be downloaded for roughly 99 cents), it’s un-American. The eighth amendment clearly states, “Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.” If ever there was an excessive fine, this is it.
Of course, this country is run by rich douchebags who stand to gain the most by forcing people to pay for every song download (whether they own the CD or previously downloaded it or not), so it’s not surprising the law is designed not only to protect them, but also to strike authoritarian fear in the hearts of citizens.
My reaction to such vulgar abuse of power is predictable. Below, I explain in four simple steps how to download music (or anything) illegally. Having done this for years, I can assure you nothing bad will happen. SWAT teams won’t come bursting through your window, I promise... Of course, you could just Google any of this, as it’s already ubiquitous.
Step 1. Download and install BitTorrent. You can Google BitTorrent, you can go to http://www.bittorrent.com/, you can even go to http://www.bittorrent.org/ (cause they’re non-profit!) and learn more about it and how it works.
Step 3. Search for something. It can be a musician or song name, or even movie title. Hell, you can even download whole seasons of TV shows.
Step 4. When you find what you want, click the link. On the new page, click “Download Torrent.”
You now have yourself some fresh pirate booty. Avast, me hearties, plunder 'til ye heart's content. And if you're anything like me, you’ll not only buy the CD or movie if you loved it, you might even make the effort to see them live (or a movie in the theatre), which actually profits the artist (and Ticketmaster...) more than sales of CDs and DVDs.