RIAA Awarded $222,000 in First Jury Trial
October 4, 2007 7:25 PM
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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: RIAA = screwed...
10/5/2007 12:36:37 AM
except that blockbuster probably states in it's rental agreement that you can't make copies. renting media is clearly a legal activity right now, and i doubt any judge is going to be boneheaded enough to find the law as 'blockbuster is liable for infringement because someone violated their agreement with blockbuster.' or because someone ripped your CD without your knowledge or consent.
digital is different though. by sharing the songs the host impliedly consented to allow people to make copies of what the host is sharing. and the host's computer is sending them the copy. maybe that is the thing, it is the host's computer that is actually reading the bits off the host's drive and sending them to someone else, not the person who requested the file. additionally it takes two to tango, so i don't think arguing that 'the downloader did it!' would be much of a defense in the situation we had here.
i do agree that the jury instruction appears to be outside the law (that is, the plaintiff didn't have to present evidence that the files were copied, only that they were shared). but then again, i'm not a copyright lawyer. are you?
and there are plenty of areas of the law where you don't have to prove damages occurred (certain types of libel, for instance). that is kind of the point of statutory damages.
RE: RIAA = screwed...
10/5/2007 9:20:22 AM
Then P2P networks need to start adding some text that says something like this is used to only share files to the same person that ones it, so that the owner has access to their files anywhere. It is P2P so that their files can be located on mult. computers they own and downloaded faster than if it was shared on just one computer. That should place the blame on the downloader.
Also I don't see how proving she had a kazza account proves anything. Maybe she just installed it to see what it was or to get some files that are legal to download.
RE: RIAA = screwed...
10/7/2007 10:29:22 PM
the kazaa account was sharing copyrighted music files.
the music industry proved:
a) there was a kazaa account sharing copyrighted music files
b) the kazaa account had a specific IP address
c) the IP address in question was assigned to her cable modem
d) the kazaa account username was the same as a username that she used for other internet services
about the only thing that they didn't prove is that she actually uploaded some of the shared copyrighted music. the instruction given to the jury didn't require the music industry to do so (which is where any appeal is going to come from). they also didn't prove damages, but i don't think evidence of damages must be shown to get the statutory damages. damages may be implied merely from infringement, but i'm not certain.
she, on the other hand, proved nothing. the only evidence she had was her own mouth, which is a pretty bad thing to have to rely on.
"We are going to continue to work with them to make sure they understand the reality of the Internet. A lot of these people don't have Ph.Ds, and they don't have a degree in computer science." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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