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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: Hypocrisy
By fatedtodie on 1/26/2010 6:23:24 AM , Rating: -1
Did you read ANYTHINg about the case?

First she KNEW what she did was wrong and she didn't share24 she shared THOUSANDS. There were 24 that the investigators were about to directly download linking to her computer.

Second, the RIAA said "you can settle for 3400 bucks or we will take you to court". Rather than man up and pay the fine she decided to be a martyr and fight it... to the death.

Third, when on the stand she blamed her children, her boyfriend and several other people in several different stories before years later finally admitting it was her alone all along.

Forth, When she lost her first cast and was fined 220,000 dollars she whined that it was too much.

Fifth, she went to court to reduce the fine only to have it raised to 1.92 million.

I think she should drop this farce, pay the fine... and start a new life without mp3s. She is a drain on the public and a drain on her family. She did wrong, she knew it and she should pay the penalty.

This is not the wild west. If you dislike the law the appropriate action isn't to just break the law anyway... that is retarded and stupid. Young people forget what makes America great is that if we don't like the laws we have the POWER to get it changed. All it takes is 1 person standing firm getting together and going to DC to plead the case. Instead... young people just whine and moan and steal. Welcome to America in the 21st century...

RE: Hypocrisy
By bennyg on 1/26/2010 10:19:13 AM , Rating: 3
First she's crying poor so can't pay up. I'd much rather 4 kids got food and shelter than the RIAA got their sacrificial goat.

Second she didn't personally copy the song for "hundreds of thousands" and charge them for it like a pro pirate does for DVDs. Why the RIAA has been able to get this line of argument accepted is beyond my comprehension. Those who downloaded it went looking for it, the blame's not totally hers.

Thirdly it is manifestly unfair to heap a stupidly large verdict on her just because there are a zillion others doing the same thing and she's one who's been dumb/unlucky enough to get caught.

Fourthly your idealism about changing laws is admirable but your naivety is execrable.

Fifthly I'm not alone when I believe even 99c is too much for most "music" these days, and when there is such low regard for a product it's no wonder so many consumers refuse to pay for it.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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