Comments on the Lily Allen Mixtape Fiasco
Lily Allen and EMI appear to infringe 38 music copyrights for commercial gain and make millions. Jammie Thomas infringes 24 music copyrights for private enjoyment and is found liable for $1.9 million in damages.
A little back-story is in order. A week ago, Mike Masnick over at Techdirt posted an article discussing 50 Cent’s take on piracy. Lily Allen copied this post verbatim and included it in her blog, where she simultaneously criticized people for copying music. Masnick called her out on the hypocrisy, and boom, an internet fiasco is born (Lily’s blog has since been taken down).
While this is interesting on the face of it, there’s more. It came out during all the discussion that Lily creates and distributes mixtapes, mixtapes which she has admitted are infringing on the copyrights of the musicians she “stole” from. How she lives with the cognitive dissonance is beyond my understanding.
Unfortunately, this isn’t all academic ivory-tower talk. Real people, in the real world, are getting screwed doing the exact same thing. Jammie Thomas, a mother of 4, was one of the few folks brave enough to go to trial over file-sharing. The court has hit her with a judgment of $1.9 million dollars, or $80,000 per track. It’s pretty clear there’s no way she’ll ever be able to pay that, and that the amount of the damages is grossly out of line with both any damage she could have caused, and any reasonable punishment what at this point is normal behavior.
One hopes that Lily will recognize that she’s in a position of privilege, and offer to help Jammie Thomas pay her ridiculous judgment. A quick look at the track listing for Lily’s two mixtapes reveals at 38 cases of possible infringement. At Jammie’s rate, that would be $3 million. However, not only was Lily’s infringement willful, but she rode it to profits! So likely she’d be in for more damages. Let’s add 25% to make up for it, bringing the per track damages to $100k per, for a total of $3.8 million.
I’m sure Jammie would take a personal cheque, just this once.
- The complete list of Techdirt’s Lily Allen posts
- Ars Technica’s coverage of the Thomas verdict
- Track listing for Lily Allen’s first and second mixtapes
- Both mixtapes are still hosted on Lily’s site at mixtape 1 and mixtape 2
Edit: Added image, mixtapes are down, check out Dan Bull’s open musical letter to Lily.