Music piracy penalties – USA v Australia

This morning’s Age newspaper report of US$1.92 million fine imposed on a Minnesota woman who illegally downloaded 24 songs contrasts markedly with the approach of Australian courts. The matter was a civil suit, with a jury deciding the penalty.

In arguably a much more serious breach of copyright, a Sydney Internet Cafe was convicted on 40 charges of copyright infringement and fined A$82,000, plus costs and forfeiture of computer equipment. Criminal penalties for copyright infringement in Australia are up to $60,500 and five years imprisonment per offence for individuals, and up to $302,500 for corporations.

While additional (punitive) damages are increasingly applied in civil copyright cases in Australia, juries are not involved in the process and damages against an individual are unlikely to be anywhere near those reported in this US case.