1.9 million dollar fine for a $24 crime


Tyler Murphy

I don’t even know where to begin. How about a quote from a personal inspiration of mine, Martin Luther King Jr.

“How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others? The answer lies in the fact that there fire two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that ‘an unjust law is no law at all.’”

Now I know Dr. King was talking about the unjust laws of civil segregation but I bet he’d be the first to recognize that the injustice of a punishment can far exceed a the crime’s.

Thursday a federal judge jury fined a 32-year-old Minnesota woman $1.9 million for downloading 24 songs worth 99 cents a piece from the internet, illegally.

The woman has four children and a husband. Without a doubt their financial lives are ruined. Her spouse will be equally affect financially, the children’s futures now lost, they will spend the rest of their lives paying it off.

Shame on the jury for being lulled into such a complacent state to find any conceivable way to go along with such a blatant injustice. No matter what direction they received from the judge or the law they shouldn’t have agreed to the sentence.

The corporate monsters that were no doubt instrumental in this case are not interest in recouping the money but rather sending the headline message to all those out there still downloading songs at this woman’s, and her family’s, expense.

The verdict is more criminal than the crime ever was. I’d encourage everyone to ignore these laws and continue downloading whatever music they want in protest to the verdict.

These laws designed to halt the large commercial copyright infringements of corrupt distributors and should not have been turned so viciously against a single individual consumer using the illegal site for recreational purposes. She was not even turning a profit at the artist’s expense.

That’d be like charging people who litter $500,000 fines for dropping a cigarette bud and blaming them for the effects of global warming. Not that I disagree with making littering illegal, in fact I despise litters but one can’t ignore the drastically exaggerated punishment and the wrongfully placed blame being laid on a single person playing such a small role in the grand scheme of its deterioration. The same is true with the average person seeking downloads for music. There is a level of culpability here just not to the tune of 1.9 million dollars.

Just because there may be a legal argument or law to condone chopping off a person’s hand for stealing a piece of bread doesn’t mean it’s justice.

For more about this story cut and paste these links into your web browser

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/business/media/19music.html?ref=media

or

http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/06/18/minnesota.music.download.fine/index.html