Many music fans and supports of consumer rights were appalled when Jammie Thomas was ordered to pay $220,000 in restitution to RIAA for allegedly making copyrighted songs available on peer-to-peer network Kazaa.
The original verdict called for Thomas to pay the massive settlement amounting to $9,250 per song and she was said to have made a little more than 1,700 tracks available. RIAA attorney Richard Gabriels said outside the courthouse after the verdict was handed down, "This is what can happen if you don’t settle." In other words, if we tell you to pay, pay whether you did it or not.
This week, Gabriels isn’t quite singing the same tune he was in October of 2007. Judge Davis had previously announced that he was considering a retrial in the Thomas case in May of 2008. This week Davis threw out the jury verdict of $220,000 and declared a mistrial.
CNET News reports that Davis declared the mistrial on the grounds that he misguided the jury during the original trial. Davis told the jurors that simply making copyrighted songs available for sharing amounts to infringement.
That statement from Davis drew the ire of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other consumer groups who claimed the instructions to the jury were erroneous. Obviously, RIAA maintained that the instructions given by Judge Davis to the jury were valid.
RIAA attorney Timothy Reynolds said, "Requiring proof of actual transfers would cripple efforts to enforce copyright owners' rights online--and would solely benefit those who seek to freeload off plaintiff's investment."