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RIAA lawyers may have mislead Minnesota judge, corrupting the jury's decision

Jammie Thomas, the Minnesota resident ordered to pay $222,000 to the RIAA last October, may get a second shot at trial due to a controversial – and possibly misleading – jury instruction.

In October, when Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas wrapped up, members of the jury were told that the act of making music available for download was all that was needed to prove that Thomas infringed record labels’ copyrights – attorneys for the RIAA compared this to someone displaying pirate DVDs for sale at a table. The instruction likely cost Thomas her victory and a short while later the jury awarded plaintiffs $222,000 in damages for Thomas’ act of “making available” 24 songs for download.

Now, however, U.S. District Court Judge Michael J. Davis now thinks that the “making available” instruction was a mistake. He says that he found a 1993 ruling from the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals that requires “actual dissemination of either copies or phonorecords.” An Arizona ruling entered on similar arguments was revoked late last April, he added, and earlier this month a Florida federal court reached the same conclusion.

Neither side in Capitol v. Thomas presented the 1993 decision to him, said Davis. Oral arguments on whether or not a new trial will be held on July 1 in Duluth, Minnesota.

With precedent quickly shifting away from the content industry’s favor, the RIAA doesn’t seem fazed: “If we have to retry the case, we’ll do so without hesitation,” said RIAA attorney Richard Gabriel. Record companies can still prove that Thomas violated copyright, because files found on her computer have the same signatures as known pirated recordings – files that Thomas claims were copied from CDs. Beyond that, says Gabriel, evidence that investigators working for the RIAA were able to download music from her computer is more than sufficient to win a second trial.

“We've been saying all along that it was submitted to the jury on an improper theory,” said attorney and Recording Industry vs. The People co-author Ray Beckerman. “Now the judge recognizes his error and he realizes he was misled by record industry lawyers.”

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RE: Haha
By just4U on 5/16/2008 1:49:23 PM , Rating: 2
Well lets take a look at that from a different angle Masher..

We freely make available images for people to look at on sites. Viewed by tons of people. All without consent by the person who probably has a legal right to that image. Heck you can even right click and save. This is copying on a grand scale and it's common place.. So common place that most don't ever give it a second thought.

In a way that's the same thing as a song being copied and shared but it doesn't carry a penalty. (in most instances)

So whats the difference?

RE: Haha
By Oregonian2 on 5/16/2008 7:46:54 PM , Rating: 2
If you believe old gangster movies, murder was commonplace in some areas at some time in the past.

So if something is common, it's okay and should be thought of lightly?

RE: Haha
By just4U on 5/16/2008 9:28:32 PM , Rating: 1
You missed my whole point entirely... and we are not discussing murder which is a different matter entirely.

I don't question weather it's right or wrong. I really couldn't care less to be perfectly honest. It's just that the way these copyright laws are laid out and how we do things on a day to day basis can translate into so many types of copyright infringement its mind boggling. Trying to wade thru all that crap is likely to drive most of us bonkers. When is it ok? When is it not? What's the difference between this or that? I mean really...

Laws should make sense and protect everyone involved. Half the people (maybe more) are not even aware that they've done anything wrong.

RE: Haha
By BarkHumbug on 5/19/2008 5:15:17 AM , Rating: 2
Had to reply, I down-rated a post by a left-click accident... :)

"It's okay. The scenarios aren't that clear. But it's good looking. [Steve Jobs] does good design, and [the iPad] is absolutely a good example of that." -- Bill Gates on the Apple iPad

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