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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 An Arizona ruling entered on similar arguments was revoked late last April, he added, and earlier this month a Florida federal court reached the same conclusion.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: Hacked?
By joex444 on 5/16/2008 2:50:20 PM , Rating: 2
AS I recall, Kazaa came bundled with a butt load of spyware.

We would need a full source code dissemination of MediaSentry's bot to find out if it made advantage of any of these insecurities introduced by malicious software bundled with Kazaa (insecurities they would have known about as most users would not have known about the malware).

I do find a problem in using copyright infringement to prove a case. What I mean is that to prove that Thomas infringed copyrights, the RIAA needs to infringe their own copyrights by downloading from Thomas.

And since they claim Thomas had songs with "known pirate signatures" on them, that doesn't prove she infringed. It proves (with md5 hashes anyways) that she lied about ripping her own CDs. The RIAA is not interested in leechers, so downloading the songs isn't really illegal. It is illegal for the uploader. So, that proves she lied, not that she was a pirate of some 1700 songs (or the 24 they're claiming). Moreover, I believe it is legal to download MP3 versions of songs from a CD you legally purchased (or a tape, or an old vinyl record). Especially with vinyl, it is hard to convert to CD, so downloading becomes easy. It is uploading those downloaded songs to another user which is illegal.

Therefore, since the RIAA legally owned the songs she uploaded, it was not an illegal transaction. Meaning, the RIAA was entitled to download the songs, so Thomas did not illegally upload them. She in fact legally uploaded them.

To prove piracy requires proof that she uploaded them to someone who does not own a license to the music (licenses being physical CDs, tapes, or vinyl). This not only requires proof that someone else downloaded it, but knowledge of who that person is and a complete list of their purchased music.

RE: Hacked?
By plinkplonk on 5/18/2008 5:29:42 AM , Rating: 2
dude seriously just go ahead and email this to the RIAA and explain to them what's up because you clearly know more than they do about their conduct (no sarcasm!)

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