What Passes For A Music Business Victory These Days

So the record companies just won the first file-sharing lawsuit that actually went to trial yesterday, when a judge in Minnesota found Jammie Thomas liable of copyright infringement related to online music-sharing activities, and awarded the labels damages of $222,000.

Now: Let’s review the particulars of the verdict.

—Jammie Thomas is a 30-year-old Native American single mother of two. —Who lives in Brainerd, Minnesota, a small rural town best known for being the partial setting of the Coen brothers’ movie Fargo. —Who was found guilty of filesharing 24 songs. —For which she now owes $222,000.

Call me crazy, but the optics for the record companies on this look pretty dreadful to me.

Meanwhile, this is what passes for a victory for the record biz these days. And that nigh-on-ten years after the invention of Napster, this is the best said biz can come up with to try to stuff the genie back in the bottle.

The sound you hear as your read this is that of absolutely nothing changing, of millions of tracks being traded online. Because this is going to do absolutely nothing to stop what’s been going on.

(Silver lining, kinda: at least the judge didn’t dismiss the charges and demand the record labels pay the plaintiff’s $70,000 in legal bills, which happened in a case in Oklahoma this summer.)

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.