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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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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
quote:
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
quote:
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.


"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)














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