Filling in for Dan Kois today is Spencer Sloan, editor of GoldenFiddle.com.
A Minnesota jury surprised a single mother yesterday by offering to let her pay whatever she wants for music she downloaded, as long as it's $220,000. In a landmark decision, the MP3 martyr was ordered to fork over — yes, you read right — $220,000 for sharing just 24 songs online.
Jammie Thomas, 30, an employee of the Mille Lacs Band Indian tribe (have we not taken enough from those poor people?!) may have gotten off easy, though; if punished to the full extent of the law, she would have had to pay record labels $150,000 for each of the 1,702 songs in her Kazaa shared folder. Fortunately the jury took into account the fact that many of them were really, really crappy — "Spiral," by Godsmack, Sara McLachlan's "Building a Mystery," and Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills" among them. (We bet she'll never hear "Bills, Bills, Bills" the same way again.)
Not to take anything away from the RIAA's victory, but with an estimated 60 million users of P2P services in the U.S. alone, and only 26,000 lawsuits filed against downloaders so far, we'd say the odds of this happening to you, Vulture readers, are probably less than the odds of your being struck by lightning on the day that Chinese Democracy comes out. So please continue to enjoy our Right-Click and Leak of the Week columns! —Spencer Sloan
Earlier: The True Cost of Music Piracy