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Labels win $220K lawsuit for music sharing

updated 08:20 pm EDT, Thu October 4, 2007

Record companies win suit

In a major win for record companies seeking to establish precedent for prosecuting those who trade copyrighted material on the Internet, a federal jury awarded six firms $222,000 in damages from a Minnesota woman who shared music online. Jammie Thomas, 30, was ordered to pay $9,250 for each of 24 songs that were part of the case. The complaint alleged that she had shared 1,702 copyright-violating songs online. The Associated Press quotes Richard Gabriel, lead attorney for the music companies: "This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK."

As the first lawsuit of its kind to go to trial (others were settled out-of-court for much less), it accuses Thomas of downloading songs without permission and offering them online through a Kazaa file-sharing account. Thomas claimed she didn't have a Kazaa account, and denied any wrongdoing. Her lawyer said that the companies never proved "Jammie Thomas, a human being, got on her keyboard and sent out these things."

Earlier this week, Sony BMG's current stance on piracy labeled even typical fair use practices as illegal, according to testimony from one of the company's legal experts in the Thomas anti-piracy lawsuit. Litigation head Jennifer Pariser remarked during the case that any instance of copying songs from one medium to another was considered stealing, regardless of whether the listener had already bought the music or a common understanding of fair use, which is not enshrined in law but has been established as a legal precedent. Among the record companies involved in the suit are Sony, Arista, Interscope, UMG, Capitol Inc. and Warner Bros.

Record companies have filed about 26,000 lawsuits since 2003 over file-sharing.

by MacNN Staff




  1. gskibum3

    Joined: Dec 1969



    ... waits for people who dislike the current model offered by the record labels to post comments attempting to justify stealing intellectual property.

  1. greenG4

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Re: lol!

    Of course it's not okay. The problem is the flimsy evidence against the woman. It's full of holes and definitely has "reasonable doubt." THAT is a dangerous precedent.

  1. Eriamjh

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Yeah, right...

    They'll never get it.

  1. BelugaShark

    Joined: Dec 1969



    musicians should dump their record companies and go solo. This is ridiculous, this woman was obviously used as an example and a threat to anyone who does not pay for music. I don't need to worry about music anymore, I only listen to audiobooks.

  1. cvbcvb

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Her choice...

    She could have settled for $3,000 but instead chose to fight. She now has $60,000 in legal fees and $220,000 in fines.

    12 jurors took 5 hours to find her guilty. They obviously though the evidence was solid - her IP address, her modemís MAC address, her UserID... case closed.


  1. Peter Bonte

    Joined: Dec 1969


    $9,250 per song

    That is extremely high if you take into account that the artist himself earns 2 cent on a song.

  1. DocZ

    Joined: Dec 1969



    What a sad news.

    Musicians, dump your record companies and sell your music on your own!

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Easy for non-musicians to tell them to go solo. If the labels were sooooo bad to the musicians, and going solo so much better, why would they sign in the first place?

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Don't Steal Music

    I am still waiting for someone to offer a justification for stealing music and movies. It is wrong, and this sends the right message (sorry Jammie).

    I am sure this will not put a dent in the illegal practice, BUT am waiting for the vermin to explain their practice of not only stealing, but then sharing so they can make criminals of their friends and relatives.

    I don't like Sony's stance on fair use, however. If I own a CD, I should be allowed to rip it to my iPod.

  1. gudin

    Joined: Dec 1969


    re: greeng4

    well, first, this was a civil lawsuit so "reasonable doubt" has nothing to do with it.

    second. . . anybody see a bankruptcy filing in the future?

    They'll get nothing close to that in terms of money, but they certainly did get the message across. Seems they got exactly what they wanted.

    third. . .stealing music is justifiable because it makes you feel cool. I don't really believe that, but so many people were asking for some justification, I thought I'd toss one out there.

    Seriously though, it seems to me that the record companies can fight these battles until they are blue in the face, they will eventually have to recognize that a different model is needed. Many indies actually like to have their music heard, and not because each play or cd purchase earns them a specific amount of money, but because that's why they made it, and because the more people that hear it, the more will (theoretically) want to hear it, and the more will buy it. The internet allows for much freer transfer of data, and the old requirements of the brinck and mortar store with hard copy cds is getting far less relevant.

    The record companies want to have the same pricing model as has always existed, without actually providing the necessary service they used to provide.

    All that being said, people can share their music illegally, and the record companies are perfectly in their rights to spank them with a lawsuit when they do.

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