This is just odd, for too many reasons. A file sharer has been fined $675,000 for downloading illegal music. He is a student. People have offered him money because they think it's an unreasonable amount to pay. He has turned them down.

Why do I think this is odd? Well, one by one: the amount is indeed a ridiculous amount to expect a student to pay. Yes, of course he knew what he was doing was illegal and the people with the rights to the music to which he's helped himself have some sort of recourse. But twice the price of my house? It's ludicrous, and the executive in the story to which I've linked who says the guy's got off lightly is...well, I don't know what he's taking. Loads of kids download music illegally, they also share it, and bankrupting one of them isn't going to stop it.

Second, the aggression with which the record labels appear to have pursued this. In the UK the industry has made comments to the effect that it's not out to damage individuals who are infringing. This turns that attitude on its head.

Third, the people who have tried to step in and offer money. I have no doubt they are very well intentioned indeed, but they are basically supporting someone who's done something wrong and knows it. There are many other causes out there.

The best thing about this is the fourth thing - the fact that the student, Joel Tenenbaum, has declined the money after he's paid other people who have put the hours in for no pay. This shows some sense of honour and proportion and I respect him for it. This leads to the last baffling thing about this case; the fact that someone will pay a fine that sort of size (or struggle with it anyway) as a matter of honour, but the principle for which he's fighting is that of being allowed to take entertainment without paying for it.

I can't work it out.

I should add that the underlying difficulty that the music industry hasn't addressed is that arguably peer to peer helps them market their wares anyway. It's going back a little while but the Arctic Monkeys - huge in the UK - have done very nicely from fans sharing their recordings on MySpace. So although the law is clear, the idea that someone will automatically lose money through music sharing is far from proven. Which is why I've put this entry into the 'internet marketing' category.

I'm not sure that one should be surprised that the kid payed the people defending him just because he did something wrong.

I would compare downloading a few songs to jaywalking in terms of criminal magnitude. As much as the media would like to portray downloaders as heartless criminals, I don't buy it. I do think it is a bit prideful that the kid is refusing donations. If in that kind of situation, and had agreed to try to pay, I would be quite grateful for any money that I could put towards a competent defense, or, you know, food.

I think it's confusing too. I read elsewhere that when he was first popped and they demanded a sum, he thought it was too high and made a counter-offer. They didn't respond to that.

At some point he decided to fight. But he had already made statements admitting that he'd shared these files. He needed to try another tactic, and it seems that the idea of fair use was going to be it until the judge threw it out the day of the trial.

Now it seems that the tactic is to get the damages ruled as being extreme. The judge has stated that she will rule on this, and hinted that she thought they were high. If it plays out, it's a victory, although it seems that the industry has already decided that these lawsuits aren't furthering their cause.