I’ve been paying special attention to this onslaught of litigation initiated by the Recording Industry Association of America to punish individuals for unauthorized downloading of music from peer to peer networks. This litigation comes in the wake of a number of other lawsuits against the larger peer to peer networks such as Morpheus and Kazaa. In light of the ruling in the A&M Records, Inc. v. Napster, Inc and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd. cases the RIAA has moved its focus from the companies to the individuals who actually downloaded the materials. I remember a few years ago when this first started happening. I have to admit it was a brilliant tactic from the record companies to start scaring the individual consumers into purchasing music rather than pirating it. Now, according to the Associated Press story (read it here)

In the first such lawsuit to go to trial, six record companies accused [Jammie] Thomas, 30, of Brainerd, of offering 1,702 songs online through a Kazaa file-sharing account. Thomas had denied wrongdoing and during the trial testified that she didn’t have a Kazaa account.

But a jury thought otherwise and found against Thomas ordering her to pay record companies $220,000 — or $9,250 for each of 24 songs for which the companies sought damages.

According to the AP story,

Record companies have filed some 26,000 lawsuits since 2003 over file-sharing, which has hurt sales because it allows people to get music for free instead of paying for recordings in stores. Many other defendants have settled by paying the companies a few thousand dollars.

In those instances, from what I understand, people were offered to have a lawsuit dismissed if they paid a nominal fine and destroyed the songs on their hard drive, or in some instances, destroyed the hard drive all together.