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Punishing music theft or acting the bully-boy?

One strategy for enforcing a law that many are breaking is to focus on a few offending individuals and to hit them with overwhelmingly large penalties. Then the fear factor motivated by publicity of the penalties might lead to an overall reduction in offenses. This seems to be what happened when the Recording Industry Association of America fined ‘single mum’ (boo hoo!) Jammie Thomas $220,000US for sharing 24 songs online. Jammie’s main line of defense is that the penalty is too large and that lots of other downloaders didn’t cop it in the neck.

Now anti-piracy groups in Australia are threatening to follow the American approach and to prosecute individual downloaders here.

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