Atlantic Recording Corp. v. Howell, Case No. 06-2076 (D. Ariz. August 29, 2008)

All together now. Don’t steal music off the Internet. And don’t erase your hard drive when you get sued for it. In Howell, the court had previously ordered a forensic examination of the hard drive in question. District Judge Neil V. Wake was not amused when it turned out that the defendants’ computer had effectively been wiped – the KaZaA program, which facilitates downloading of files, legal or otherwise, had been removed, as had the downloaded files, and a Wipe and Delete program had been used.

The court characterized the defendant’s conduct as follows:

The timing and character of Howell’s actions show that they were deliberately calculated to conceal the truth and that he willfully destroyed evidence to deceive the court.

Slip Opinion at 4. The court held that these circumstances demand the imposition of a default judgment against the defendant.

The plaintiffs sought only the minimal statutory damages of $750 per recording. I guess that will teach the other ten million or so kids that are downloading every recording they can find. This will surely go a long way toward restoring the financial health of the record companies. Or maybe it won’t.

Read the opinion