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Convicted 58yo Scottish File-Sharer Given 3yrs Probation

Convicted 58yo Scottish File-Sharer Given 3yrs Probation

Follows Anne Muir’s admission of illegally “making available” 30,000 copyrighted music files early last month.

Early last month Scotland’s Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) announced that Anne Muir had become the first person in that country to be convicted for illegal file-sharing, and luckily her sentence has been more lenient than has been the case here in the US where she could’ve faced nearly $2 billion in damages.

According to The Guardian, she’s been sentenced to 3 yrs probation and ordered to receive psychiatric counseling for her admitted personality disorder.

That’s a far cry from the likes of Missouri-native Jammie Thomas who was ordered to pay the RIAA $1.5 million for sharing a mere 24 songs. At $62,500 each Muir could’ve been liable for an astronomical $1.88 billion USD in US courts.

The 58yo nurse plead guilty to violating section 107(1)(e) of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 for illegally “making available” 30,000 copyrighted music files worth an estimated £54,000 ($88,279 USD) online. However, that statute defines the offense as occurring “in the course of a business,” and critics point out that wasn’t the case. Muir was not a commercial infringer and judging from the verdict it would seem the court agreed.

Muirs defense lawyer, Lorenzo Alonzi, has maintained from the start that she was never trying to make money from P2P (how could she?), and that her actions were the result of a mental illness for which the court has rightly ordered treatment for as part of her sentence.

“Mrs Muir was not in any way trying to distribute on a large scale, she had a very big quantity of these files because she was hoarding ” a symptom of a severe obsessive personality disorder that she suffers from,” he said after Muir was first convicted.

The BPI said the verdict proved that “file-sharing on a massive scale is a serious matter,” and that it would help deter “such behavior in future,” but exactly what kind of behavior is it referring to? People with mental illnesses giving away copyrighted music for free?

The UK Pirate Party says it’s “dismayed” with the “disproportionate sentence,” and thinks the “evidence should have been properly tested in court.”

“It seems now there is a pattern of copyright lobby groups targeting vulnerable people to score quick wins for publicity,” said Loz Kaye, Leader of the UK Pirate Party.

Stay tuned.

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Jared Moya
I've been interested in P2P since the early, high-flying days of Napster and KaZaA. I believe that analog copyright laws are ill-suited to the digital age, and that art and culture shouldn't be subject to the whims of international entertainment industry conglomerates. Twitter | Google Plus


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