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Jammie Thomas-Rasset  (Source: Wired)

Ms. Thomas-Rasset's legal representation -- Joe Sibley (left) and law partner Kiwi Camara  (Source: Camara & Sibley law firm)
Jammie Thomas' epic $1.92M in damages to the RIAA reduced by sympathetic judge

Back in October 2007 it was reported that Jammie Thomas, a Minnesota woman, was being sued by the RIAA for sharing 24 songs on Kazaa. Jammie was the first defendant not to settle out-of-court with the RIAA, making her case unique, and for the RIAA, particularly important. 

 In its first jury trial, the RIAA was awarded $222,000 (USD), which amounts to a fine of $9,250 for song. The case came back into court in 2008 when U.S. District Court Chief Justice Michael Davis declared a mistrial, citing misinstruction to the jury by RIAA lawyers. During her first trial, Jury Instruction 15 told jurors to consider the act of having a song in a users share folder equivalent to the act of copyright infringement. This applied directly to Thomas' case, because she was not found to have committed actual copyright infringement.

Unfortunately for Thomas (now Thomas-Rasset), the second trial resulted in a fine increase, which totaled $1.92M. Thomas was shocked upon hearing the verdict, stating that, "There was nothing I could do,” and,”  good luck trying to get it, because you can’t get blood out of a turnip."

The RIAA, in response, explained that it didn’t have to go that far.  RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth elaborated stating that, "From day one, we’ve been willing to settle this case for somewhere between $3,000 and $5,000.  We appreciate the jury's service and that they take this issue as seriously as we do.  We are pleased that the jury agreed with the evidence and found the defendant liable."

Things are looking up for Thomas, however -- Following an appeal, her fines have been reduced significantly to $54,000. Despite the dramatic reduction Thomas and her legal team are still looking for ways to further decrease the fine. Thomas explains that, “Whether it's $2m or $54,000, I'm a mom with four kids and one income and we're not exactly rolling in that kind of dough right now," 

Thomas' judge seemed to understand her disbelief, stating that the $1.92M fine was "monstrous," however it doesn't appear that this is a trend that will continue in the future. Not only did the U.S. Department of Justice approve of the $1.92M decision,  but just last week it was reported that the Obama Administration supported a $650K fine for file sharing, and believes that there is a significant need to "deter the millions of users of new media from infringing copyrights in an environment where many violators believe they will go unnoticed." Either way, it will be interesting to see if this will be the end of Thomas' story.

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A Collection?
By UncleRufus on 1/25/2010 4:04:22 PM , Rating: 3
Is anyone taking a collection for this poor woman online somewhere? Just heart-breaking.

RE: A Collection?
By jonmcc33 on 1/25/2010 4:15:13 PM , Rating: 5
Nope, but I'm still collecting MP3s. Only a fool would have used Kazaa.

In reality the RIAA should bill her $0.99 for each song and move on.

RE: A Collection?
By CHAOQIANG on 1/25/10, Rating: -1
RE: A Collection?
By shin0bi272 on 1/25/2010 11:44:09 PM , Rating: 1
Exactly! 99cents per song plus court costs and she gets to keep the songs.

Plus when a band charges 40 bucks for a t-shirt and between 10 and 5000 dollars to go see them live (see barbra striesand for the 5k tickets) you know they arent too worried about living on alpo dog food if their record sales drop 50% but people are still showing up to see them live.

RE: A Collection?
By RyuDeshi on 1/26/2010 12:08:18 AM , Rating: 2
You know that it isn't about her downloading the songs, it is because she shared them, that means hundreds of thousands of people got the file for free partly because of her (partly because kazaa is a p2p program where you pick up bits and pieces of a file from multiple users).

If it was just because she downloaded them, then I would agree.. they should just charge the price per song and a little extra as a "fine" but not thousands of dollars, that is just ridiculous.

RE: A Collection?
By bug77 on 1/26/2010 5:24:19 AM , Rating: 5
hundreds of thousands of people got the file for free partly because of her

And I believe any (sane) justice system would require proof of that.

RE: A Collection?
By Pjotr on 1/26/2010 7:03:24 AM , Rating: 4
it is because she shared them, that means hundreds of thousands of people got the file for free

"...the act of having a song in a users share folder equivalent to the act of copyright infringement. This applied directly to Thomas' case, because she was not found to have committed actual copyright infringement."

No evidence that a single user ever downloaded a copy from her...

RE: A Collection?
By jonmcc33 on 1/26/2010 10:39:18 AM , Rating: 1
So with that logic is it illegal for someone under 21 to consume alcohol or just buy it?

The fact is, they sued her for making these files available and not because anyone actually downloaded from her. Honestly though, just 24 songs?

They should see my collection...not obtained through Kazaa but merely using Google. It's absurd. The RIAA should attack Google at this point. Worst pirating website on the planet.

The RIAA is stupid, full of rich people with very little ability to use their brains. They spend millions on the pursuit of pathetic people that use Kazaa and shared a dozen files because they didn't have a clue to remove them after they downloaded them.

In the mean time, Google is giving away entire albums and discographies through a simple to use search engine. The RIAA has lost billions of dollars because of Google.

RE: A Collection?
By AstroCreep on 1/25/2010 4:20:41 PM , Rating: 4
I haven't found one specifically for her, but if she's receiving any council from the EFF you can always make a donation to them.

RE: A Collection?
By corduroygt on 1/25/2010 4:23:34 PM , Rating: 4
No need for any of that, she should offer them $3k and threaten with Bankruptcy if they don't accept. Of course get a car loan/mortgage before you do this, then just live off your check card.

RE: A Collection?
By jonmcc33 on 1/26/2010 10:41:34 AM , Rating: 2
...then just live off your check card.

If she couldn't even afford to buy a few CD singles and downloaded them instead do you think she can afford to live off of her check card?

RE: A Collection?
By corduroygt on 1/26/2010 11:24:37 AM , Rating: 2
I guess everyone who owns PSP's, xbox 360's, gaming PC's and pirates games, or owns Iphones/Itouches and pirates apps is dirt poor then?
Many people will choose to not pay for something if they can get away with it, it's human nature.

RE: A Collection?
By jonmcc33 on 1/27/2010 1:05:28 PM , Rating: 2
Many people will choose to not pay for something if they can get away with it, it's human nature.

I'd like to see you go to a car lot and drive away with a new car without paying or signing your name.

You completely missed my point though. My point is that declaring bankruptcy and just resorting to your check card is not a solution. You can't borrow thousands of dollars for a new heater for your house in the middle of winter from a check card. You aren't going to buy a new car with a check card.

There are things in life that you will need, not to mention emergency situations, that cannot be helped if you declare bankruptcy and try to live off of a paycheck when you are already living month to month. I guess those types are the ones that go to their family (brothers, sisters, parents) for money instead.

RE: A Collection?
By callmeroy on 1/26/2010 12:53:00 PM , Rating: 2
The fact that you were rated a "5" for that incredibly BAD financial idea/scheme, even after the hellish economy we've had for clicking on 2 years now (I'm talking since its been really bad) double digit unemployment rates, etc. and people still indicate a kind of "cheer" by rating that a '5' -- that's simply amazing....either that or there is a bunch of teenagers or younger that actually view this site and comment.

...after all when you aren't paying the bills and don't have to work for what you have -- who the hell cares how the economy is affected.

RE: A Collection?
By The Raven on 1/26/2010 2:22:31 PM , Rating: 2
I do work bub, and there are times when civil disobedience is called for. It sounds to me that the protection that the eighth amendment affords is not being applied here. That is not right and should not be tolerated in my opinion, whether I loose my job or not. How selfish are you?

As a nation we had a revolution over crap like this. We had a tea party and sat at the front of the bus. Hell, we even shot some redcoats. Talk about dessimating an economy! I don't care what happens to the economy, what is wrong is wrong. If that includes her initial crime: so be it. But that doesn't change the fact that the punishment doesn't fit the crime.

This is just the RIAA bullying this poor woman and trying to make an example out of her. Well in my book she is a 'martyr' who's story has stoked the fire of rebellion in me. I want to pirate like crazy. Too bad the 'recording industry' just puts produces a bunch of crap that I don't listen to. Ironic isn't it. Maybe I can just set up a server in Ghana.

But good for her if she wants to fight fire with fire and file for bankruptcy. I will gladly give my tax dollars to her if it paints the RIAA/Gov't as the fools they are.

RE: A Collection?
By jonmcc33 on 1/27/2010 1:09:24 PM , Rating: 2
Well, I agree with you but in this situation in order to get away from having to pay the RIAA a dime for 24 songs it's the only alternative...unless she waits it out and hopes it goes to court and some judge lowers the penalty even more.

The part about getting a loan/mortgage beforehand I do not agree with at all. That will do nothing but further degrade our economic state.

"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer

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