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: Wait a minute....
10/5/2007 1:10:42 AM
Yea, they didn't really prove anything, other than maybe she had an account with Kazaa and had an internet account. I'd also have called there actual investigation into play. I mean, how did they come up with this information in the first place. Most of the time the way they get the information violates privacy in some form or another. If they can't even confirm that she ever had the songs I don't see how a jury could possibly believe that she was guilty.
On that note, I would like to say that this jury obviously couldn't have gone past the defense lawyer. And if it did go by that guy, then he's just a moron. That jury seems EXTREMELY RIAA sided. I mean, they picked an amateur musician and the others didn't even use the internet? WTF was that defense lawyer thinking. Even if they used the national percentages of people who used the internet you'd still have 1-2, maybe, on the jury who don't use the internet, but you wouldn't have the whole jury be ones who don't use the internet.
There are also other things to consider for evidence in the trial. I'd have brought up the fact that the RIAA uses P2P software to see how well a song is doing. I can fully understand why, but the fact that they use it in research should show that they support P2P usage in some fashion.
And about the outcome. I'd have argued quite strongly that $9000+ a song is simply outrageous. They've already come to a conclusion that each song only netted like a $750 loss if it was pirated. That's still a lot of money for 24 songs, but at least she wouldn't have to become homeless simply because of the F'in RIAA.
"Paying an extra $500 for a computer in this environment -- same piece of hardware -- paying $500 more to get a logo on it? I think that's a more challenging proposition for the average person than it used to be." -- Steve Ballmer
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