A New Low

The recording industry’s inquisitorial pursuit of downloaders has reached new heights – or depths.  Map Boon onto the interests represented by the RIAA and Katy onto the interests represented by the accused in this sequence from Animal House:

Boon:  Unbelievable. A new low. I’m so ashamed.  Almost sorry l missed it.
Katy:  What did you do, human sacrifice?
Boon: No, just some harmless fun.

In other words, I just picked this up at CNN.com:

“A  federal jury Thursday found a 32-year-old Minnesota woman guilty of illegally downloading music from the Internet and fined her $80,000 each — a total of $1.9 million — for 24 songs.”

That sum represents statutory damages under copyright law, based on a finding of willful infringement.  Fred von Lohmann at EFF’s Deep Links blog summarizes the Constitutional issues surrounding the proportionaliy of the offense and the remedy — and the lack thereof.

The merits, however, are only part of the story.  CNN’s URL indexes the story under the heading CRIME (http://www.cnn.com/2009/CRIME/06/18/minnesota.music.download.fine/index.html). 

Perhaps American frat house humor isn’t the best metaphor for this pairing of outcome and rhetoric.  The case may be truly Pythonesque.  Jammie Thomas-Rasset didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition.