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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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Simple question:
By jimhsu on 11/8/2010 8:29:00 AM , Rating: 2
Why is "copyright infringement" not a misdemeanor?

The RIAA has tried every avenue to persuade the public that copyright infringement is theft -- through "you wouldn't STEAL a car", crazy music videos to make you stop downloading, long explanations about starving artists, etc. So, why not try infringement cases as theft? Steal a CD, steal 12 songs -- it's all the same, isn't it? So enforce it consistently with $100 or so and a slap on the wrist. See, punishment warrants the crime.

To me at least, an accusation of infringement (and the enormous legal damages associated) would have to be based on PROOF that the damages caused by distribution warrant such monetary damages. This is hard to prove but easy to disprove -- almost all P2P clients keep some sort of access/transfer log, and if not, your ISP probably does (at least for the non-encrypted connections that the RIAA can actually see).




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