Radio Berkman 125: The Price of Music

June 25th, 2009

At $80,000 per song, the 24 tracks Jammie Thomas-Rasset is accused of sharing on Kazaa could represent the most expensive album of all time.

Last week a federal jury suggested the fine, adding up to $1.92 million, seemed like a fair price for willful infringement.

Thomas-Rasset’s pro bono legal team of Kiwi Camara and Joe Sibley promise to appeal the verdict in this, the first file sharing case to see trial. A conversation shortly before the trial showed a number of issues that indeed did not make it to court this time around – including the constitutionality of the RIAA’s investigative tactics.

Check out David Weinberger’s conversation with Thomas-Rasset’s lead attorney Kiwi Camara to find out where the defense stands.

or download

The Reference Section:
Big Fine Could Be Big Trouble in Downloading Case
Lawyers plan class-action to reclaim “$100M+” RIAA “stole”
Richard Marx “Ashamed” He’s Linked To $1.92 Million RIAA Fine Against Minnesota Mom
What’s next for Jammie Thomas-Rasset?
Camara & Sibley
David Weinberger’s conversation with lawyer Charlie Nesson and client Joel Tenenbaum on their case against the RIAA

CC-licensed music this week:
State Shirt – Computer
Cordafonia – Dreamland

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See a partial transcript after the jump.

Radio Berkman 125: 2009-06-23_riaa Jammie Thomas

How much is a song worth? It depends on who you ask, but we’ll try to get to the bottom of it on this week’s Radio Berkman.


How much are 24 songs worth to you? 70 cents apiece? 99 cents apiece? Maybe a buck 29 if you’re after the new Jonas Brothers album on iTunes?

How about this figure: 3.6 million dollars.

That’s how much the RIAA – the Recording Industry Association of America – sought from one alleged file sharer. The case of Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a Minnesota mother accused of sharing 24 songs on the peer-to-peer filesharing network Kazaa in 2005, has in the last month or so accelerated like a mix tape in fast forward. Defense attorneys Kiwi Camara and Joe Sibley took on Thomas-Rasset’s case pro bono in late May. Thomas-Rasset went to court on June 15th. Ars Technica reported the verdict on the 18th: Thomas-Rasset found guilty of willful infringement with a 1.92 million dollar penalty – $80,000 dollars per song.

Seen as something of a bellwether for battles over music and copyright, the results of the Thomas-Rasset case might read as a major blow to those opposed to RIAA litigation. Those of the 35,000 filesharers charged over the last five years who have yet to see their day in court, may see the $1.92 million penalty as motivation to settle with the RIAA for a more paltry 3 to 5000 dollars. With a deeper look into the tactics and the limited areas that this verdict covered however, the case might paradoxically strengthen the resolve of record industry opponents. For one, the issue of how the RIAA -collects- their evidence against file sharers – and whether it is even legal and constitutional – didn’t even come up in court this time around.

Where might the defense go after this? What future could RIAA filesharing cases have? David Weinberger spoke to lead Jammie Thomas-Rasset Defense Attorney Kiwi Camara shortly before the trial to give us the lay of the land.


Kiwi Camara is the lead defense attorney in the recording industry’s case against alleged file sharer Jammie Thomas-Rasset, and a partner in the firm Camara and Sibley.

Since the trial, Camara has said that they will appeal the charges. For links to more information on this story, and past episodes of Radio Berkman visit us on the web at

This episode of Radio Berkman was produced by me, Daniel Dennis Jones, at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University in Boston.



State Shirt – Computer
Cordafonia – Dreamland

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