Man who illegally downloaded music must pay $675,000 for copyright infringement

It has been a few years since Florida readers heard about people getting sued after illegally downloaded music via services like Limewire and Napster, but that doesn’t mean those disputes are over.

Recently, a 25-year-old man was ordered to pay $675,000 to the Recording Industry Association of America for illegally downloading and distributing 31 songs back in 2007, when he was 16. He had been found guilty of copyright infringement in 2009, but had been trying to appeal ever since.

Although $675,000 sounds like a lot of money, it is less than he could have been ordered to pay. Under federal law, he could have been ordered to pay up to $150,000 for each of the 31 violations. He once offered to settle the case for 4500, which is what he said he could have afforded at the time, but that offer was declined.

However, it seems unlikely that the RIAA will ever be able to collect that $675,000. After all, where does a private individual get that kind of money? In certain cases, like car accidents, a person’s insurance will cover the damages awarded, but from what we know of this case it does not sound like the man has any coverage that will help him out.

The likely difficulty in obtaining the damages is a good example of how even a courtroom victory can be hollow when it comes to certain aspects of intellectual property protection. Many people who have intellectual property assets take great care to protect them from the outset to prevent outcomes like this. That’s very prudent, but of course it takes a little extra work and, most likely, some assistance from an intellectual property attorney. Some intellectual property holders find that to be well worth their while, though.

Source: BBC, “US music file-sharer must pay damages,” Aug. 24, 2012