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Get a grip, file-sharing freeloaders: you've never had it so good

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Comment Last week, the ailing sound recording industry in America found someone even dumber to pick on. Kazaa user Jammie Thomas had got on the internet, and was doing just what the adverts and mass media say you should do once you're there - fill your boots with free stuff.

This is a case that should make everyone involved feel ashamed of themselves - with no exceptions. But I'm amazed by the howls of outrage.

Without this free stuff, the internet would be worth very little: it's simply an extension of the telephone network with added pictures, and would otherwise be priced accordingly, as a low-cost or free addition to your phone bill. Everyone knows that pictures of cats falling down stairs, or even feature-light web-based office suites aren't really money spinners. Google and BT can't say so explicitly, but most people are only here for the free music or porn. The rest are here for online games. The stuff about getting broadband "to help with the kids' homework" is sanctimonious crap.

US lobby group the Recording Industry Ass. of America (RIAA), which brought about the case, doesn't hire the brightest lawyers or lobbyists, and so it couldn't prove she was downloading copyright-infringing material. Following the mass media's urgings to "share", Thomas was convicted on the grounds of "making available", which made her a willing participant in infringement.

For her part, Jammie Thomas emerges as even dumber than the RIAA. She clocked up a bill of $60,000 in legal fees alone. Make no mistake, the reason she's now "facing bankruptcy" is because lawyers persuaded her to defend an indefensible position.

Most of the outrage was directed at the RIAA - and much of it had a self-indulgent quality, too. Like this post on our site from Andrew Tyler on Friday:

I have nothing really to add, but I want to register my belief that this is a horrible, disgusting, nasty, unrighteous, heinous, evil, foul, grotesque, sickening, atrocious, offensive, depraved, nefarious, repugnant, loathsome, villainous, wicked, sinful, vile, repulsive, egregious, abominable, dreadful, scuzzy, sleazy, no good, dirty, low down, filthy, rotten, putrid, mean, spoiled, god-awful, diseased ruling.

It sucks too. To whom do I write nasty letters, and where is my thesaurus?

A redundant question, obviously - the thesaurus is halfway down his digestive tract, and is already causing uncontrollable verbal flatulence.

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