Look out Jack Sparrow, you got nothing on Anne Muir, a 58-year-old nurse who pirated and distributed more than $88,500 worth of songs before authorities nabbed her and sentenced her to three years of probation after she entered a guilty plea.
As the first person in Scotland convicted of such a crime, Muir has rapidly climbed to the top of Twitter trending topics in suffering the consequences for the pilfering of the 31,000-plus songs, which could fill up a 120-GB iPod.
The majority of Muir's songs were in the karaoke vein — more than 24,000 files according to this BBC story. This grandmother of eight and a nurse at Ayr hospital, who reportedly suffers from depression, will also receive counseling as part of her sentence.
Reminiscent of Napster days, Muir shared the files via a peer-to-peer sharing service. Her activities caught the attention of BPI (British British Phonographic Industry) and IFPI (International Federation for the Phonographic Industry), whose investigation led them to tip off the local police, whose officers searched Muir's home and found the evidence that condemned her.
The Guardian quoted Loz Kaye, the leader of the UK Pirate Party, as saying he was "hugely dismayed" by Muir's "disproportionate sentence." He added: "The evidence should have been properly tested in court. It seems now there is a pattern of rights holders targeting vulnerable people to score quick wins for publicity."
We've gradually become acclimated to paying for music (i.e. iTunes, eMusic, Amazon), boosted by promotions like the server-crashing 99-cent Lady Gaga mp3 album on Amazon and cautionary tales of big dragnets that capture those who want their music for free, like the busts in recent years on the 500-plus college students who have had to make settlements rather than face lawsuits. Despite those risks, it's a pervasive attitude that to share is divine, as a recent psychology study reveals how college students do not equate illegal downloading with the same kind of moral conviction as other kinds of theft.
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