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RIAA Counsel Richard Gabriel Addresses The Court  (Source: Wired Threat Level)

The Jury Found Jammie Thomas Guilty and Awarded $222,000 in Damages  (Source: Wired Threat Level)
The RIAA adds a notch to its belt of legal victories

“This is what can happen if you don’t settle,” said RIAA attorney Richard Gabriels, speaking to reporters just outside the Duluth, Minnesota Courthouse, minutes after Jammie Thomas was found liable for copyright infringement to the tune of $222,000.
 
Thomas, a single mom with two kids, left the courthouse without comment and did not speak with reporters.
 
Under the username “Tereastarr,” Thomas was found sharing just over 1,700 files via the Kazaa network on February 21, 2005. Of those 1,700 tracks, 24 were named – including music from popular artists such as AFI, Green Day, and Aerosmith – and for each one she was held liable for $9,250 worth of damages, coming to a grand total of $222,000.
 
Brian Toder, Thomas’ defense attorney, maintained that there existed no proof that Thomas was the person behind the keyboard, noting that Thomas or her computer may have been the victim of zombie botnet, spoofing attacks, or malicious crackers. “All we know is that Jammie Thomas didn’t do it,” said Toder, adding that Thomas was “not the person marauding as Tereastarr.”
 
This defense did not appear to hold up as it was found that Thomas used “Tereastarr” all around the internet, including online shopping, chat services, e-mail, and even dating services. The offending songs were linked to her cable modem’s MAC address, as well as her home IP address.
 
Gabriels called Thomas’ defense “misdirection, red herrings, and smoke and mirrors.”
 
Complicating Thomas’ defense was testimony from an ex-boyfriend saying while he had never seen her actively downloading music, she did have her hard drive replaced a month after her computer was picked up in the RIAA’s dragnets. Toder said that this was due to hard drive problems – something Thomas’ ex-boyfriend remembered her complaining about beforehand – but the RIAA argued that she had it changed to cover her tracks.
 
Forensic scientists could not find any evidence of file sharing on her new hard drive, and her old hard drive was not admitted as evidence.
 
Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas, as Thomas’ loss is more formally known, was the first lawsuit of its kind to proceed before a jury as well as a landmark case that set precedent heavily favoring the RIAA in future legal battles. U.S. District Judge Michael Davis ruled that one could be guilty of copyright infringement merely by the act of making copyrighted songs available for download; as a result the RIAA did not need to establish that Thomas at her computer at the time her was accessed by investigators, nor did they need to prove that anyone actually downloaded the music she offered.
 
While the RIAA no longer publishes the number of lawsuits it’s filed in its four-years-and-counting legal campaign against file sharers, many publications speculate that that number stands anywhere between 18,000 and 36,000 lawsuits, with untold more settling long before the actual trial.


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RE: What a mess
By wordsworm on 10/4/2007 9:54:21 PM , Rating: 0
The guy who makes one copy will never be found by anyone, including Jennifer Pariser. If this hypothetical person never does any file sharing with that copy, then there's no way to find him. If they did, and that's what they charged him with, there's no way that the courts would tolerate it, as that certainly fits 'fair use'.

The woman's defense, that she wasn't really aware that she was hosting this file swapping is about as good for her as it would be for a pedophile whose entertainment is tracked and the distributor convicted. I don't think anyone here would feel sympathy for such a fellow.


RE: What a mess
By alifbaa on 10/4/2007 10:42:47 PM , Rating: 5
You're right, no one would feel sympathy for a pedophile.

Your argument is what is called a "straw man." You set up a comparison between two unrelated things, one of which is inflammatory, and create a supposed connection between the two. I'm sorry, but sharing music online has nothing to do with the distribution of child porn.

Tell me, in what universe is it fair or correct that this woman would have to pay over $9k for sharing a song without any evidence that she actually did it? To use your phony argument, would you suggest that a person be sent to jail without the police ever connecting that person directly to the material he was distributing?

I understand that the burden of proof is much lower in a civil proceeding, but do you really think that this judgment is in any way proportional to the actual damages, even if she were proven to have done what she is accused of? If she is smart, she will appeal and this judgment will almost undoubtedly be reduced dramatically.


RE: What a mess
By wordsworm on 10/4/07, Rating: 0
RE: What a mess
By NullSubroutine on 10/5/2007 12:30:49 AM , Rating: 2
I am going to limit a reply due to the nature of the topic being discussed. But your link between CP and copyright infringement does not hold water.

There exists an inherent danger to children because of CP, the only danger that exists from "stealing music" is that record label executives get only 10 Mercedes this year, not 15.


RE: What a mess
By wordsworm on 10/5/07, Rating: 0
RE: What a mess
By clovell on 10/5/2007 1:30:40 PM , Rating: 2
No. The burden of proof is always on the prosecution - just in verying degrees. And distribution of CP is dangerous as it enables and fosters psychopaths. See: Ted Bundy.


RE: What a mess
By bhieb on 10/5/2007 9:28:20 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
the only danger that exists from "stealing music" is that record label executives get only 10 Mercedes this year, not 15


So theft is ok if it is small enought that the victim does not take a noticable decrease in standard of living? I was with you up until this part. It is hard to contridict a bad analogy with an equal inaccurate one.


RE: What a mess
By porkpie on 10/4/2007 11:37:48 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
would have to pay over $9k for sharing a song without any evidence that she actually did it?
Stop being silly. Of course there's evidence she did it. Maybe you don't agree with the evidence, but it exists.


RE: What a mess
By masher2 (blog) on 10/5/2007 4:21:19 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, the evidence was pretty much overwhelming in fact.

a) The activity all occurred from her IP address and MAC address.
b) It all occurred using a screen name she admitted to using for many other purposes.
c) All the specific songs traded were ones she admitted to listening to on a regular basis.
d) She claimed to have no knowledge of file-trading/P2P networks, yet had done a lengthy research paper on them in college.

There were a few other factors, but suffice it to say, the case against her was pretty much airtight.


RE: What a mess
By borowki on 10/5/2007 6:43:56 PM , Rating: 2
Finally, someone from DT making sense.


RE: What a mess
By Oregonian2 on 10/5/2007 9:35:15 PM , Rating: 2
What I thought chilling is the judge's proclamation that making a song available for copy access was sufficient to be a copyright violation, that an actual upload wasn't necessary to happen (so they didn't have to prove that).

If one has a store-bought CD and purposefully puts it in one's car and then parks the car in public with the window open (with the CD in plain sight) then can one be charged those huge numbers per song on that CD because the music was made available for someone to come by with a ripping software loaded laptop who could copy it (even if nobody actually does it)? What was the per-song charge for purposefully making it available for copying? $150K/song? This seems dumb and silly but I don't understand why the judge's directive wouldn't apply. I understand if it were the downloading of them, but I understand she was "gotten" just for making those songs available for copying even if they weren't.


RE: What a mess
By Oregonian2 on 10/5/2007 9:37:28 PM , Rating: 2
P.S. - I ask this because I've CD's in my car and upon occasion I leave the car unlocked unintentionally. I'd just as soon not get sued for a million dollars just because I left my car unlocked!


RE: What a mess
By Axbattler on 10/6/2007 10:52:21 PM , Rating: 2
I think that the jury is more likely to believe that your scenario is is accidental and unintentional. Whereas the use of P2P can easily shake the likelihood that she did not intentionally share the files. Still, if you frequently leave your car unlocked, you can't be surprised if it suddenly disappears one day, and end up with a poor history with the insurance company (I think that reason alone is sufficient to suggest that it was unintentional).


RE: What a mess
By Oregonian2 on 10/8/2007 3:52:57 PM , Rating: 2
Even when declared unintentional they still could get me for $15,000 for each song on that CD left in the car (actually I've ten or so in my minivan where Chrysler has a built-in CD holder). Her $220,000 was for unintentionally making songs available for snatching. With my ten CD's I'd be vulnerable for over a million dollars if I forget to lock my car. I wonder if my auto insurance would cover this million? Maybe I should ask my insurance company?

Not only that, I usually have the day's newspaper sitting on the passenger side (I read it during lunch). If I forget to lock the car someone may be able to copy it too. In fact even locked someone could put a digital camera to the window and at least copy the top of the front page. A hundred people could walk by my car and snap a photo of that newspaper! And their copy will be a digital copy! I will have provided means to digital-copy copyright theft. Hope the newspapers don't pay attention to the RIAA and see this way out of their financial problems!


RE: What a mess
By bhieb on 10/5/2007 9:24:52 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Tell me, in what universe is it fair or correct that this woman would have to pay over $9k for sharing a song without any evidence that she actually did it?


Unfortunately this one. After all this was a jury trial, and what (ideally) would be a fair representation of her peers thinks she did it. So your "without any evidence" comment seems pretty lame. I don't think a jury would convict without ANY evidence. There must have been enough to convice 9 normal people to find her guilty.

Now don't get me wrong the fine is ridiculous, but so is your conclusion that she is somehow innocent.


RE: What a mess
By christojojo on 10/5/2007 3:52:03 PM , Rating: 2
I agree the pedophile stuff is a huge stretch. The more appropriate analogies would be speeding tickets and embezzlement.

The price for doing what was thought of as a small time crime is a crime. They are punishing for effect ala Nazis killing a village full of people in punishment for a small act of espionage.

The embezzlement could liken the fact that a person could steal millions/ billions of poor peoples hard earned money and receive a virtual slap on the wrist.

I am not sure why anyone would use such a hard lined analogy of a pedo equals file sharing. I do know in the golden olden days the saying "Beware of the squeaky clean, for they have many more skeletons in the closet."


"The whole principle [of censorship] is wrong. It's like demanding that grown men live on skim milk because the baby can't have steak." -- Robert Heinlein

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