Via PC World:

A California man who participated in a so-called warez music-sharing group faces a sentence of five years in prison and a US$250,000 fine after pleading guilty to copyright infringement charges in a California court. He was a member and leader of an Internet music release group known as Old School Classics or OSC, said the Department of Justice.

And what kind of music did this group release? According to the DOJ, they were a warez group–that is, a group that shares pre-released music with similar groups, and through peer-to-peer sharing.

When you sort through all the legal BS and the DOJ fancywords, Richard Franco Montejo is facing five years in prison plus three years supervised release in addition to owing $250,000 for “illegally uploading an advance copy of a 2007 Kanye West album to the Internet before the CD went on sale”– and for possessing unauthorized files on his computer in an amount worth “more than $10,000 but less than $30,000.”

Sources as credible and venerated as the London School of Economics have questioned “the proportionality and likely effectiveness of measures to protect intellectual property,” finding, among other things, that:

The use of peer-to-peer technology should be encouraged to promote innovative applications.

Decline in the sales of physical copies of recorded music cannot be attributed solely to file-sharing, but should be explained by a combination of factors such as changing patterns in music consumption, decreasing disposable household incomes for leisure products and increasing sales of digital content through online platforms.

Not that this is any consolation to Montejano.

Emphasis ours.

While we recognize that artists deserve to be paid for their work, we are also concerned about the scale of punishment meted out to individuals like Montejano. What are your thoughts? Is this fair or does the punishment not fit the crime?

LA Weekly