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RIAA file-sharing victory to be contested

updated 01:20 pm EDT, Mon October 8, 2007

RIAA victory to be fought

Jammie Thomas, the defendant who recently lost her file-sharing case initiated by the RIAA, says she is appealing the $220,000 verdict. Thomas has been fined $9,250 per track for sharing 24 songs via Kazaa; she denies even having a Kazaa account however, and is now challenging the verdict based on one of the instructions given to her jury. Instruction 15 suggested that Thomas should be found liable if she made the songs available through a file-sharing network, "regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown."

Though the RIAA has cited legal precedents for this view, recent cases may aid the defense. One such precendent was Atlantic v. Howell, but its decision has since been reversed. Similarly, the ongoing Warner v. Cassin is being fought on the basis that, due to the manner in which file-sharing operates, it is impossible to determine whether anyone other than an investigator has illegally downloaded music. This exact argument will be used by Thomas' attorney, Brian Toder.

If the verdict is overturned, it may still be prosecuted again, though any monetary gain may be insufficient. The party with the most to lose though may be Thomas, who has incurred $60,000 in legal fees in addition to her fine. [via Ars Technica]

by MacNN Staff




  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    sad that the civil courts can be used to bully people into paying the music industry racketeers 'protection money', with the alternative being bankruptcy if you try to fight them.

    I hope this only encourages even more people to pirate music.

  1. FavFruit

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Your kidding right?

    You're joking? Where does this inalieable right to copy music come from? If you made songs available to 'file share' then that is intent, whether somebody actually downloaded them or not. If you copy music without owning it, then that is theft plain and simple, whether you think the music industry are thieves or not.

  1. robttwo

    Joined: Dec 1969


    sour fruit

    There are very few crimes that can be prosecuted for "intent" - in fact, I migh even say to you that the intent of your message is to harass and intimidate, and therefore you should be charged with those crimes.

    The problem with this case is that is fails to prove past circumstancial evidence - something which is almost impossible to do with something like this. No one can actually prove this person sat at the computer and willfully did this, even though they can demonstrate their computer (or IP address) shared illegal files. Did they probably do it? Sure. But just because you are in a room when a murder is committed doesn't mean you are the murderer.

    And like it or not, there is a sense of "bullying" going on. What if I told you I was going to sure you for what you posted - and I had unlimited money to do so? I file charges, open a civil suit, Investigate everything you had every done online. Subpeona your provider, and everyone in your address books. etc etc. Then I say - well, pay me $100 and I will drop the case. Get it?


  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    as far as I can tell from what I've read about the case, it has not been proven that the woman herself made the songs available for filesharing. Just like you cannot be cited by the police for what someone else does while driving your car.

    Also the woman asserts she does not have a Kazaa account. Is this true? Either she is telling a whopping lie or she's right. The RIAA says she used her Kazaa account to make the songs available for P2P filesharing; if they are wrong then there is a giant hole in their case.

  1. dynsight

    Joined: Dec 1969



    I would like to hear an intelligent response from climacs as to why he or she feels that Jammie has the right to share music. Whenever I ask this question, I usually get flamed, called a jerk, an RIAA employee (I am not) or some other rude response.

    You buy a song, you can use it. I can make copies for my own use. I have taught my daughter, do not give music to your friends, they can buy it themselves. It makes her friends think I am a bit mean, but ultimately, they understand.

  1. burger

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Doesn't that simply suggest possession of stolen property with intent to distribute?

    I wouldn't think the fine to be so excessive for kids stealing CDs from the local mall.


  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969


    burden of proof

    while I largely agree with robttwo, the burden of proof in civil cases is lower than criminal cases since one's life and liberty are not at stake.

    Also, cases built upon circumstantial evidence are not inherently 'weak'; after all, Scott Peterson was put on death row using circumstantial evidence. No one saw him kill Laci Peterson, however the weight of circumstantial evidence was so great that only a fool would think he had nothing to do with it.

    Of course that was a criminal case so maybe I'm mixing things up, but my point is that circumstantial evidence alone can be enough, if it's strong enough. I don't think it was in this case, and I think that the RIAA really shouldn't be able to obtain such financially catastrophic judgements against individuals, particularly when we're talking circumstantial evidence which is really not that strong at all. Someone else could have been using her computer; it could have been hacked into and hijacked; as far as I know, no one has proven that she had a Kazaa account, which goes directly to the heart of the RIAA's case.

  1. climacs

    Joined: Dec 1969



    burger brings up a good point; if the RIAA insists that music piracy is no different from shoplifting the music from a record store, why the draconian fines? Why hasn't the woman been criminally prosecuted, as would happen if some kids stole some CDs from a store???

  1. lepton

    Joined: Dec 1969


    What is "sharing"

    "why he or she feels that Jammie has the right to share music." Suppose I'm in a busy lobby. I set out a dish of candy. Actually, a lot of others set out dishes of candy too. And though many people were around, and many peop-le took candy from dishes, no one at all took any candy from my dish. Now... Did I share candy? In a legal, technical kind of sense? IMO I think I offered to share candy, but didn't actually share any. So yes, I say they have to prove there was some downloading taking place.

  1. bcthedj

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Right and Wrong

    Folks -

    Many are looking at this case, and file sharing in general, from the viewpoint of how we were raised, and with the common sense we were taught of what is 'right and wrong/stealing and sharing'.

    Those values were erased with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) passed by Congress in 1998ish.

    We, least in the USA, now have Laws about media and information exchange which probably have Orwell rolling over in his grave with laughter, and tears.

    The "traditional powers to be" are afraid of the Internet and what it represents - their loss of control of information and its exchange. They have had, like the Church and King 500 years ago before invention of the Printing Press, a nice monopoly as gatekeepers to Truth and Knowledge. And the DMCA is their latest effort to keep that control.

    Read and learn about DMCA.

    Then go read and learn about UseNet/Newsgroups, and get on them - they can never, by design, be shut down, tracked, or hacked.

    Thank You BC Kelly Tallahassee Fla

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