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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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Worse off?
By SavagePotato on 1/25/2010 4:57:09 PM , Rating: 4
I would have to think she is worse off now, there was no way she could ever pay the original award so she could have just shrugged her shoulders and said can't pay it based on how ridiculous it is.

She actually could afford to pay the new fine and likely live in poverty because of it.




RE: Worse off?
By surt on 1/25/2010 7:32:49 PM , Rating: 2
The way it really works is they push you into bankruptcy, taking all available assets other than your primary home. So it doesn't matter whether it's 54k or 2M ... they both presumably mean she loses everything to pay the judgement.


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