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: Appeal imminent
10/5/2007 7:40:08 AM
Ah, go check out that mcdonalds case, the one where that lady spilled the coffee on her lap? After several appeals she went from winning 2.9 Million to 640 Thousand. Further appeals resulted in an out of court settlement totaling less than 600 Thousand. So, yes this would not likely hold up in an appeal.
RE: Appeal imminent
10/5/2007 1:02:08 PM
first, it was the trial judge that reduced the damages, not an appeal.
second, the damages reduced were the punitive damages, not the compensatory damages (which were $200,000 - 20% responsiblity of the old woman). the punitives were reduced from several million to 3x the compensatory damages (3x is pretty traditional for punitive damages). so the total became 640 (160 compensatory + 480 punitive).
unless i've completely misread something, these damages were not 'punitive' (though, obviously that is the intent of the statute). these are regular statutory compensatory damages for an act the value of which can be hard to determine.
in other words, the mcdonalds reduction isn't really on point here. so, as a licensed attorney, i am going to respectfully disagree with your reading of the law.
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