“Ignoring RIAA lawsuits cheaper than going to trial”

From Ars Technica:

… Jammie Thomas-Rasset and Joel Tenenbaum captured the nation’s attention when they were defendants in the RIAA’s first two trials against accused online infringers. But here’s the mind-warping reality: both defendants would have been far better off monetarily if they had simply ignored the complaint altogether and failed to show up in court.

That counterintuitive logic played out again this week in Massachusetts, where federal judge Nancy Gertner issued four default judgments against accused P2P file-swappers who never bothered to respond to the charges against them. Their failure to appear meant an automatic loss, and though the judge does have some discretion in setting penalties, judges often pick the minimum awards in such cases.

That was true in all four cases, where Gertner accepted the record labels’ claims and awarded them the minimum statutory damages of $750 per song. The defendants were accused of downloading an average of ten songs, putting total awards in the $7,500 range, in addition to a few hundred more for court costs. …

…Thomas-Rasset’s retrial ended up with a $1.92 million award, while Tenenbaum faces $675,000 in damages. Those who didn’t show up owe around $7,500. …

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That is pretty darned disconcerting. Punishing people for defending themselves serves the RIAA pretty well, but justice? Not so much.