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RIAA v. Thomas will get a second attempt

The retrial for the RIAA’s landmark $222,000 judgment against Duluth, Minnesota woman Jammie Thomas will begin March 9, after a federal judge tossed out the original verdict last month.

In a first-of-its-kind four day trial last October, a jury found Thomas liable for copyright infringement at a rate of $9,250 per song. Of the 1,700 songs files that the RIAA said Thomas made available, it elected to seek damages on 24 of them – from artists such as AFI, Green Day, and Aerosmith – reaching the breathtaking grand total of $222,000.

U.S. District Court Chief Judge Michael Davis declared a mistrial last month, after finding that RIAA lawyers misguided the jury with an erroneous instruction: Jury Instruction No. 15 told jurors to consider the act of making a copyrighted song available for download (via a P2P client’s shared folder) equivalent to the act of infringement. Because Thomas was not found to have committed actual copyright infringement – proving a thing is impossible, claims the RIAA, because it cannot monitor all the different connections P2P clients make to each other – RIAA lawyers generally equate making available with actually trading music.

“Requiring proof of actual transfers would cripple efforts to enforce copyright owners' rights online,” said RIAA attorney Timothy Reynolds last month. “[It] would solely benefit those who seek to freeload off plaintiff's investment.”

Davis announced he had doubts about the decision last May, after a slew of similar cases in Florida and Arizona ruled in the defendants’ favor, striking down the “making available” argument. Upon looking into the matter sua sponte – on his own accord – Davis says he found a 1993 ruling from the 8th circuit Court of Appeals that requires evidence of “actual dissemination of copies or phonorecords” in order to prove copyright infringement. The 1993 decision, which featured prominently in the Florida and Arizona decisions, was never mentioned in Thomas’ original trial.

The RIAA promised an appeal to Davis’ September order, “either now or after a full retrial.” (PDF)



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By pentiuman on 11/3/2008 2:31:20 PM , Rating: 2
“Requiring proof of actual transfers would cripple efforts to enforce copyright owners' rights online,” said RIAA attorney Timothy Reynolds last month."

What is the difference between the criminals arrested in the movie "Minority Report", before they had actually committed a crime, and RIAA enforcers taking people to Court for crimes they COULD, but not necessarily DID commit, because they enable file sharing in a program? This is getting ridiculous!

I feel the RIAA needs to forget about file sharing - period! They should go after the type of piracy that they CAN prove, like conterfeit CD's, etc.

-Otherwise, the RIAA needs to find a way for the law to be interpreted making the sharing software illegal to be written or used. They could not do that (yet), since the software can and is used to share freely distributable files, albeit even if only a small % of the sharing done with the program(s) is legal.

-So, perhaps the RIAA needs to get a Court to authorize subpeonas (or whoever and whatever) to intercept or trace actual file transfers for the proof. - Which can't be done without notification to the person, giving them the opportunity to contest the tracing request, method, or results.

Side point: Artists are already not making the type of money they deserve due to the music industry figures - but you don't see the RIAA standing up for them do you? (RIAA is a tool of profit for a few - not really much benefit to the greater industry, nor the consumers)!!!




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