Opinion

What's the cost of illegal downloads? Record companies say $75 trillion

I spotted a link on Slashdot to an interesting article on law.com which showed just how ridiculous the music industry can be when it comes to copyright infringement over the net. In this instance, 13 record companies that won a summary judgement in May last year against Lime Wire have demanded damages for each instance of infringement where two or more parties were liable.

Strip aside the legalise and what this means is that in the case of Lime Wire which had millions of downloads from thousands of users, the damages award could be as high as $75 trillion. Manhattan federal district court judge Kimba Wood has given the damages request short shrift, labelling it "absurd". In her opinion, Kimba wrote that plaintiffs were asking for "more money than the entire music recording industry has made since Edison's invention of the phonograph in 1877".

Still, you can't blame the guys for trying, although as Lime Wire's lawyer Joseph Baio of Wilkie Farr & Gallagher pointed out, with that kind of money they could pay for health care and wipe out the national debt. But on past experience, they'd probably blow it trying to market crap pop tunes to the rest of us that we don't want to hear.

This was first published in March 2011

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