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Thomas fined $1.5M by jury  (Source: AP)
It's like Deja Vu all over again

The battle between Jammie Thomas and the Recording Industry Artists Association (RIAA) has reached epic proportions. The battle revolves around allegations that Thomas illegally shared music and downloaded pirated music using the peer-to-peer sharing platform Kazaa. 

Thomas was back in a courtroom fighting the jury award that would have seen her pay $1.92 million for illegally downloading 24 songs working out to $84,000 per song. The judge in the case reduced that fine to $54,000 in an appeal stating, "The need for deterrence cannot justify a $2 million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music."

The RIAA later offered to settle with Thomas for $25,000 to be paid to a music charity. Thomas and her attorney refused the offer, and the RIAA then rejected the judges reduced fine of $54,000. After the reduction was rejected, the case went back to court. The jury deliberated for two hours according to the 
Star Tribune and came back with bad news for Thomas. The jury awarded the RIAA a record fine of $1.5 million, which is about $400,000 less than the original judgment against Thomas.

A RIAA representative named Cara Duckworth said, "We are again thankful to the jury for its service in this matter and that they recognize the severity of the defendant's misconduct. Now, with three jury decisions behind us, along with a clear affirmation of Ms. Thomas-Rasset's willful liability, it is our hope that she finally accepts responsibility for her actions."

Neither Thomas nor her attorney was available for comment on the decision. Looking at the history of the case, it would be unsurprising for another appeal to follow along with another plea from the Thomas camp to reduce the fine.  Thomas' attorney Kiwi Camera said in closing arguments, "She may have engaged in the conduct. That doesn't mean they can take her head and stick it up on a pole."

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broken jury, broken courts
By chromal on 11/4/2010 10:31:21 AM , Rating: 4
I don't understand why these juries keep awarding outlandish fees for cases involving non-commercial infringement of an album or two's worth of tracks. I don't understand why they feel the plaintiff in a civil case can dictate the sentence. But it does seem to consistently point to an aspect of the statutory damages system that needs to be reformed before attempting to be applied to any more defendants in US courts.

RE: broken jury, broken courts
By Gungel on 11/4/2010 10:43:06 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, and if a political party uses a song for a commercial without permission from the artist the RIAA is not doing anything. Even though the song can be heard by millions for free without the artist receiving a cent. I guess they really can't go after someone that just received millions in political "donations" to support a restrictive DRM that guarantees to stuffs the pockets of the RIAA for years to come.

By superunknown98 on 11/4/2010 10:51:49 AM , Rating: 2
I agree, she did something wrong, stole, but did not benefit financially from it. Neither did she plagiarize the music as her own. Why should anyone be able to demand exponential value of stolen goods? I know it's the way the court system works as a means of a deterrent, but its unnecessary.

If someone stole colonel sanders magic recipe and gave it to their friends who only used it for their own consumption, no profit, would it be ethical to fine them 1.5 million dollars?

This is about on par with getting caned for spitting gum in the street. Is that the kind of country we are?

RE: broken jury, broken courts
By Luticus on 11/4/2010 10:57:31 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed, this sum for that small on an infringement is insane... lol wonder what they'd do to someone with thousands of songs (as most people have).

RE: broken jury, broken courts
By Ghost42 on 11/4/2010 1:06:28 PM , Rating: 2
lol, back when Napster was at it's peak I had just over 96k MP3s. If I still had those I guess it'd be worth $6b - $8b. There was people I knew who had even more as well.

RE: broken jury, broken courts
By The Raven on 11/4/2010 11:42:55 AM , Rating: 2
Do they take the promotional service that she was doing into consideration? With the fees that the record companies charge the artists, that would take care of her punitive burden and more!

RE: broken jury, broken courts
By Reclaimer77 on 11/4/10, Rating: -1
"So if you want to save the planet, feel free to drive your Hummer. Just avoid the drive thru line at McDonalds." -- Michael Asher

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