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The consul argues the defendant's due process rights were violated

Could the highest profile music piracy case to be brought against an individual in the U.S. be headed to The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS)? That's the outcome lawyers for working mom Jammie Thomas-Rasset are hoping for.

The defendant's legal team has filed a petition for certiorari claiming that their client's right to due process has been violated.  The case has been kicked around the courts for some time.

Ms. Thomas-Rasset first lost in a June 2009 jury verdict, with the jury deciding on a $1.92M USD fine, arguing that lawyers for music labels like Sony Corp.'s (TYO:6758) BMG and their trade group the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has sufficiently proved that the working mom had willfully-infringed on 24 songs.

After the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) approved the verdict, the matter seemed settled, setting a rather draconian precedent.  But a judge cut the fine to a mere $54,000 USD.

Then it was deja vu all over again -- the case went to retrial, a jury found Ms. Thomas-Rasset guilty of another huge fine ($1.5M USD, this time), and then the judge yet again bumped the fine to $54,000 USD.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset
Jammie Thomas-Rasset (left) [Image Source: joonbug]

Most recently the RIAA, et al. appealed the reduction, and the fine was bumped back slightly to $222,000 USD, where it currently sits.  That appeal prompted Ms. Thomas-Rasset's lawyers to ask the SCOTUS to hear the case.

The defendant's lawyers cite State Farm v. Campbell, BMW v. Gore, and St. Louis I.M. & S. Railway Co. v. Williams as relevant cases.  These cases all involved the plaintiff seeking a large amount of punitive damages (for example Dr. Ira Gore sued BMW and initially won $4M USD in punitive damages after BMW sold him a repainted vehicle and claimed it was new).  In each case the SCOTUS ruled that there should be reasonable limits, based on the scope of the civil offense, to punitive damages.

The RIAA and big media backers are estimated to have spent over $3M USD on the case; Ms. Thomas-Rasset has received much of her legal services and fees paid for via donations.

Source: RIAA v. The People



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RE: truly asinine
By KITH on 12/13/2012 5:20:31 PM , Rating: 2
Not trying to suggest the damages are accurate here but she is being fined not for downloading the music but for sharing/uploading it.


RE: truly asinine
By MScrip on 12/13/2012 6:35:28 PM , Rating: 2
That's true... and this is where the case falls apart in my opinion.

The court knows for a FACT that she downloaded those 24 songs.

But they have ZERO EVIDENCE how many times those songs were uploaded (if any)

Did those songs get uploaded a million times to get the $1,000,000 fine? Did the courts just guess?


RE: truly asinine
By Trisped on 12/13/2012 7:00:27 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
But they have ZERO EVIDENCE how many times those songs were uploaded (if any)
More like we have zero evidence. I expect that there is plenty of forensic and statistical evidence to give at least an order of magnitude (1, 10, 100, 1000, 100000, more) reference. While we may not have that information I am sure the courts do.


RE: truly asinine
By MScrip on 12/13/2012 10:02:13 PM , Rating: 2
We know tons about this case... it's been reported on for the last 7 years.

We know the number of songs she was caught infringing upon... the names of those songs... each and every ruling and all the damages against her... etc.

Why would they keep any actual proof a secret? Isn't that the whole point... finding the truth?

I'm not doubting that Jammie could have shared songs with millions of other people. That's precisely how Kazaa works.

What I'm asking is if the courts knew exactly how many computers were connected to Jammie's computer at any given time... and how many songs were actually transferred from her computer.

Basically... did she or didn't she?

I find it hard to believe that you can be found guilty of something you may or may not have done...


RE: truly asinine
By Trisped on 12/13/2012 11:06:24 PM , Rating: 2
Right, we do not have the evidence, hopefully the court does.


RE: truly asinine
By mlambert890 on 12/15/2012 12:30:52 AM , Rating: 2
Evidence is shared in a courtroom. It isnt trumpeted to the public. What you "know" about this case is merely what the media has reported which is merely a *version* of what was made public.

Unless you sat in the courtroom or read the courtroom transcript, you honestly don't know anything about the case.

The "truth" is found *in the court*. The court is not the court of public opinion. Its the courtroom. If you had a legal battle in front of you, you wouldnt want sensitive evidence that might be deeply personal shared with every moron blog commenter, so count this as a *good* part of "the system".

WIth all of the information on the web, and all of the time people spend on the web reading about and commenting on things, its amazing how few people do a bit more research to just understand how things like the court system work.


RE: truly asinine
By Jeffk464 on 12/16/2012 11:34:10 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not trying to suggest the damages are accurate here but she is being fined not for downloading the music but for sharing/uploading it.


Its pretty much the same thing. back in the hay day of music piracy when non-techy people like this woman were downloading everything was just set up as share by default. I don't think she probably thought about the fact that her computer was pirating the music out to a ton of people. Anyways people should really be pissed off at the media companies for this level of vindictiveness. I say don't buy music period, I'm not saying steal it but use alternative services like pandora. If you want to support artists go to live events this is where they make their money anyways.


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