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RIAA To Appeal Thomas-Rasset Ruling 275

Posted by timothy
from the you-know-they-would dept.
frank_adrian314159 writes "The RIAA will appeal the ruling that reduced Jammie Thomas-Rasset's $1.92 million fine for file sharing to $54,000. '"It is a shame that Ms. Thomas-Rasset continues to deny any responsibility for her actions rather than accept a reasonable settlement offer and put this case behind her," said RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth.' Joe Sibley, an attorney for Thomas-Rasset, said his client would not settle for the $25,000 that the RIAA has asked for. '"Jammie is not going to agree to pay any amount of money to them," Sibley said, adding that it doesn't matter to Thomas-Rasset whether the damages are $25,000 or $1.92 million.' In addition, Thomas-Rasset's attorneys say that, win or lose, they plan to appeal the constitutionality of the fine."
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RIAA To Appeal Thomas-Rasset Ruling

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  • by CorporateSuit (1319461) on Friday January 29, 2010 @08:16PM (#30957500)

    The RIAA will appeal the ruling that reduced Jammie Thomas-Rasset's $1.92 fine for file sharing to $54,000

    That wouldn't be a reduction. That would be a dramatic increase.

    • Yeah, I'd give 'em two ones and tell them to keep the change.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by vxice (1690200)
        Giving them even $2 would set a precedent, not that not having precedent or completely ignoring law has stopped the RIAA before.
        • by Jesus_666 (702802) on Friday January 29, 2010 @11:58PM (#30959212)
          I think we can agree that a precedent for a fine of a few cents per song (remember, that would include punitive and statutory fines) would be an outcome we can live with. It would have a similar effect as the complete rejection of fines: Suing someone for copyright infringement would be hugely unprofitable.
      • Yeah, I'd give 'em two ones and tell them to keep the change.

        Yes, I can see their collections agent accosting them saying, "I want my two dollars!"

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You are too nice. I would pay them in pennies.

        Come to think of it, even if I had to settle for $25,000 I would still pay them in pennies.

        • by Abstrackt (609015) on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:09PM (#30958462)

          You are too nice. I would pay them in pennies.

          Come to think of it, even if I had to settle for $25,000 I would still pay them in pennies.

          I would donate good money, pennies of course, to see that.

      • by cenc (1310167)

        how about a fake $2 bill?

      • Yeah, I'd give 'em two ones and tell them to keep the change.

        This isn't about the money though, and even if the courts knocked it down to that number, I don't think defendant would go along with it so willingly. Personally, I'd give 'em the two bucks too, but I'd demand my change back from those fuckers.
    • by mariushm (1022195) on Friday January 29, 2010 @08:38PM (#30957734)

      RIAA offered to settle for 25 grand, with some conditions that would make the lawsuit results not apply to other trials, if I understood correctly. I believe they feared this would cause a precedent and as a consequence they'd get such small fines.

      Now of course they play the good guys

    • Unconstitutional? (Score:3, Informative)

      by toastar (573882)
      "To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries."
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hylandr (813770)
      If you read the rest of the article, you would realize that's a reduction from 1.92 MILLION. later on it properly places the decimal point.

      Quote -> it doesn't matter to Thomas-Rasset whether the damages are $25,000 or $1.92 million.' In addition, Thomas-Rasset's attorneys say that, win or lose, they plan to appeal the constitutionality of the fine."

      God BLESS this woman.

      - Dan.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        God BLESS this woman

        Why? She illegally shared a huge number of songs. When caught, she tried to frame her kids for it. She tried to destroy evidence. She lied repeatedly under oath.

        Given a chance to settle for a reasonable amount (about $1/song for the number of songs she actually pirated), she refused.

        Why exactly should we support or admire this moron?

        • by EzInKy (115248)


          Given a chance to settle for a reasonable amount (about $1/song for the number of songs she actually pirated), she refused.

          If she refused to settle for a $1 for each song that was actually proven to be distributed, then yes, she is a moron. Could you please provide a citation here? Every story I've seen on this case states the RIAA asked for amounts in the thousands.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by BitterOak (537666)
            They asked for $25,000 in their latest offer, which is about $1 per song as the gp suggested.
            • by EzInKy (115248) on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:59PM (#30958782)

              I thought they had only proven 24 songs. At least that's what the article says.

              "Last year, a federal jury ruled Thomas-Rasset, a mother of four from Brainerd, willfully violated the copyrights on 24 songs."

            • by DMiax (915735)
              No, that takes into account the number of uploads which is completely arbitrary. The number of songs taken into court is something like 24 IIRC.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Why exactly should we support or admire this moron?

          Because she is dedicated to having the unconstitutional statutory copyright-infringement damages declared unconstitutional. If I was in her position, I would offer to settle the case for a payment of $2-million.

        • Why? She illegally shared a huge number of songs. When caught, she tried to frame her kids for it. She tried to destroy evidence. She lied repeatedly under oath.

          Lying under oath is perjury, and that is a criminal offense... something for a federal prosecutor to handle. Such matters do not apply in deciding an award in civil litigation, and for such matters to be taken into account and thereby have the award raised to an obscene amount would set dangerous precedent in future RIAA litigation regardless of whether the future defendants lie like Thomas-Rasset.

          We can deal with the perjury later when this civil suit is dealt with, and for Thomas-Rasset to accept anything

        • Support her because she didn't do anything you haven't done. Most people on Slashdot have illegally downloaded songs of P2P, we just didn't get caught, and with a fine like that, her financial future is ruined. No one should have their financial future ruined because of downloading a few songs.

          The problem is, P2P song sharing wasn't created when copyright laws were made, and the creators didn't have this scenario in mind when they wrote the law. These fines were meant to deter commercial pirates, not a
        • by dimeglio (456244) on Saturday January 30, 2010 @12:03AM (#30959234)

          Why exactly should we support or admire this moron?

          Because the RIAA uses extortion tactics generally seen with mobsters and in banana republics. $1.2 million is obviously a ridiculous amount of money for an individual to pay for any crime related to copyright. $25,000 is also a hell of a lot of money for 90% of us.

          I believe the RIAA should not be involved in these lawsuits, no more than automaker be involved in fining speeding drivers. Let the police do the work.

          I would say a 2-3 months jail time and a nice criminal record would be enough of a deterrent. I see a big conflict in having the RIAA profit from these lawsuits.

        • > Why? She illegally shared a huge number of songs. When caught, she tried to frame her kids for it. She tried to destroy evidence. She lied repeatedly under oath.

          Do you have reliable sources for that, or are you merely engaging in defamation? Because I'm pretty sure she wasn't found guilty of destruction of evidence (and I do know about the hard drive--it broke down and she forgot the date she took it in to get it repaired according to what I read). The other stuff is less clear. The main evidence it

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        God BLESS this woman.

        Huh? God bless Gandhi - he refused to bow down to the 'Evil-Ones' of his situation, but didn't try to lie, cheat, or blame his kids for anything.

        Seriously, blaming your children of something because they can't be persecuted isn't worthy of any admiration. If a kid blames someone else for something she did, I'd spank her.

        Being stubborn in the face of adversity is not admirable when you only do it because all other attempts of squirming away have failed.

    • by Chysn (898420)
      I still wouldn't pay it.
    • by Dahamma (304068)

      And I thought the summary was sarcastically alluding to the fact that the actual monetary damages were more on the order of a couple bucks.

    • by Score Whore (32328) on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:03PM (#30958432)

      No, the summary is correct: The $1.92 fine is in 2008 dollars. The $54,000 is in 2010 dollars.

  • by nweaver (113078) on Friday January 29, 2010 @08:23PM (#30957582) Homepage

    Jammie Thomas-Rasset lost in court. She should have settled in the first place.

    But really, she's judgement proof: whether its $50K or $5M or $5B, they can't get blood from that stone, she's Judgement Proof [wikipedia.org].

    So really, its principle on both sides. The RIAA wants a scary number to prevent solvent people from fighting these cases, and she wants the RIAA to get zippo. Neither will give in, and dollars-to-doughnuts says the judgement of at least $50K will withstand appeals and the RIAA will be left to try to collect it before just giving up, with both sides in that case winning: the RIAA gets their huge verdict through and tested, and Jammie Thomas-Rasset gets to tell the RIAA's bill collectors to go F-themselves.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TheKidWho (705796)

      Not if Thomas-Rasset refuses to settle. Either they will set a precedent that the fines are ridiculously high, or the RIAA will win the appeal and this matter will head to the Supreme Court.

      • by Hatta (162192) on Friday January 29, 2010 @08:49PM (#30957856) Journal

        The RIAA will win the appeal, it will head to the Supreme Court, and they will uphold the damages. From FindLaw [findlaw.com]:

        the Court has held the Clause inapplicable to civil jury awards of punitive damages in cases between private parties, ''when the government neither has prosecuted the action nor has any right to receive a share of the damages awarded.''

        If it wasn't clear before, recent rulings have made it abundantly clear that you should expect no justice of any kind from the Supreme Court.

      • The District Court judge already called the $1.92 million fine "monstrous and shocking." With a few more victories like this, RIAA can really go out of business already.

    • the RIAA gets their huge verdict through and tested

      It would be a very pyrrhic victory for the RIAA, given that they originally wanted two million, and the precedent would be set for a fortieth of that.

    • by Kjella (173770)

      They don't need it "through and tested", the 1.92M$ verdict went around the world and they got all the FUD they could possibly want. The idea that you can be fined millions of dollars for file sharing will stay in the public mind regardless, until there's a decision that says you definitely can't. So the RIAA got very little to gain and everything to lose here.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      I disagree. This whole set of statues is vague, badly worded and unethical. What do you do when a law is bad, vague and unethical? You either change the statute or you have a series of court cases where case law puts a more definite explanation of the law.

      I am very much hoping that this will end up in at the SCOUTS so we can have a clear answer on many of these ambiguous legal issues.
    • by Technician (215283) on Friday January 29, 2010 @08:58PM (#30957938)

      The only problem with being judgment proof is you lose any opportunity to have a career in the future. To remain judgment proof, you can never take a job where the wages can be attached. Therefore you remain a ward of the state on welfare for the rest of your life with only the guarantee of any real job being robbed. Working like deadbeat dads with cash under the table is the only way to raise your ability to purchase a car, insurance, housing, etc.

      I don't expect the RIAA's bill collectors to ever let up looking for the money. They have a strong incentive to never let her rise out of poverty.

      They seem to think they have the right to be completely inhumane in her treatment and show no attempt at compassion in the least.

      This stance will of course come back to haunt them. I and many others have simply stopped supporting the industry in any way. I don't buy from any label involved in this and won't until they change. The change doesn't appear to be any time soon.

      • by fabs64 (657132)

        Have I missed something here? I'm not from the US but I'm pretty sure that you can declare bankruptcy there.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          Bankruptcy does not affect court judgments. Without going into the whole legal stuff behind that, suffice it to say that a court judgment is deemed to fall under the category of "justice", as opposed to "debt".
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by linuxrocks123 (905424)

            You're wrong. Judgments from a civil lawsuit are dischargeable. You may be confused because fines that are punishment for a crime are sometimes not dischargeable. This case, however, was not a criminal case.

            ---linuxrocks123

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        You can also leave the country.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        This stance will of course come back to haunt them. I and many others have simply stopped supporting the industry in any way. I don't buy from any label involved in this and won't until they change. The change doesn't appear to be any time soon.

        When they began their bullying 10+ years ago I committed myself to stop buying CDs until they stopped. If you walk into my place-- right there against the wall is a rack piled full of CDs, frozen in time. I was a fairly heavy buyer, but one day it was enough is eno

    • $50,000 (down from the millions, IIRC) is seriously bad news for the litigant RIAA. That means that they have to make money from suing normal people at only $2,000 per song. Think of that effort on their part and they can 'only' prove minor damages.

      Yeah, they probably aren't making money on any of these, but a standardized and substantially less fee means that their numbers they use in their pirating statistics just got kicked into the ground. An actual judgment means that anti-RIAA folks can actually stat
  • It's not an appeal (Score:5, Informative)

    by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <[ray] [at] [beckermanlegal.com]> on Friday January 29, 2010 @08:31PM (#30957660) Homepage Journal
    I don't know why the story says it's an "appeal". It's not an appeal. It's just a new trial of the appropriate statutory damages.
    • by Evets (629327) *

      So - in a trial limited to "the issue of the appropriate amount of statutory damages", what really is discussed during the trial?

      The RIAA has consistently been working the angle of statutory damages and avoiding the question of actual damages.

      Are they going to have to argue actual damages moving forward?

      It sounds like the trial would be a trial of the RIAA this time around, and not so much on Jammie Thomas.

      It would seem that they would be limited too, in the discussion of the damages by the tracks she was d

      • by tsm_sf (545316)
        5) Is it possible to just make shit up and have a Supreme Court judge go along with it?
      • by NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) * <[ray] [at] [beckermanlegal.com]> on Saturday January 30, 2010 @01:15PM (#30963364) Homepage Journal

        So - in a trial limited to "the issue of the appropriate amount of statutory damages", what really is discussed during the trial?

        Well, there was no proof of a distribution, so I would imagine the key issues would be, for each of the 24 songs:

        -what was the wholesale price of an authorized download?
        -what would the expenses have been? and
        -what percentage of unauthorized downloads represent lost sales.

        I.e. if the mp3 download of a particular song would have sold for an average wholesale price of 71 cents, the royalties would have been 31 cents and the fixed expenses 5 cents, and for every 5 unauthorized downloads there would have been 1 lost sale, I would compute the actual damages as follows:
        71 cents minus 36 cents = lost profit of 35 cents
        20% x 35 cents = 7 cents actual damages.

        Under Supreme Court deadlines, any award of statutory damages exceeding 28 cents for that recording would be suspect, and any award exceeding 63 cents would be presumptively invalid.

  • by Locke2005 (849178) on Friday January 29, 2010 @08:52PM (#30957884)
    ...it doesn't matter to Thomas-Rasset whether the damages are $25,000 or $1.92 million. That's what I've always felt about people suing me... If I'm going to declare bankruptcy to get out of the debt anyway, does it really matter how much they are suing me for? They are going to collect the same amount anyway! (This might not be true in this case, "Intentional Torts" may not be dischargable in bankruptcy, but IANAL so I couldn't tell you whether or not that applies to this case.)

    As a side note, I once got out of a $500,000 lawsuit by taking the opposing lawyer outside, pointing to my old ragged motorhome, and telling him "That's my only asset; I'm living in it, and I'm pretty sure I owe more on it than it is worth... you're welcome to try to take it away from me, but you're going to have to find it first! Now, how much effort do you really want to put into this case?" Once you convince them their best case scenario will simply drive you into bankruptcy and they will collect nothing anyway, they're not so keen on taking cases on contingency anymore -- especially meritless ones.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by geekoid (135745)

      the opposing lawyer should be disbarred.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by orlanz (882574)

        I think all lawyers should be disbarred, but that's another topic for another time.

      • by raddan (519638) * on Friday January 29, 2010 @10:59PM (#30958786)

        the opposing lawyer should be disbarred.

        Not if the opposing lawyer went straight to his client and said "Hey, be sensible here." The lawyer does not tell the lawyers client how they will proceed. It's the other way around. The lawyer interprets the law for the client, and tells them what is reasonable, and what is not. If the lawyer's wages are based on winnings, then the lawyer can also decide that it's not worth his time (i.e., no winnings = no wage). But if a client has the money, and wants to continue to pay despite good advice, a lawyer will happily do your bidding, even if it is futile.

        Personally, I'm in favor of imposing reality on people. Lawyers can be assholes for many reasons, but not working for free is not one of them.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Bios_Hakr (68586)

      The RIAA isn't hiring lawyers; they are lawyers. They really have nothing to lose from dragging this out as long as possible.

      Even if the $54k settlement goes to the SCOTUS, it will stand. And $54k is plenty of deterrent for 90% of the US. That's about 10~15 years of garnished wages for most people.

  • Unless the RIAA has figured out a way to successfully amend the U.S. Constitution through the courts(hint: they cannot), then there is not a damned thing that is going to change. I believe that corporations should be limited to receiving the real losses for IP theft. If a person is caught stealing one song, then the RIAA would get $0.99 USD, and if someone steals a movie, then the MPAA would get the cost of a movie ticket or DVD/Blu-ray disc, depending on which version is stolen. It is only fair, as thes

    • by daveime (1253762)

      Although I'm sure at this point, even though the actual damages would by 0.99 per song, the court costs / lawyers fees are easily 25 thousand.

      The point is, she *has* been found guily, and there comes a point where the appeal and counter-appeal process eventually has to end. At that point, do you want the RIAA claiming a 1.92 million "victory" or a 25 thousand "victory" ?

      • by EzInKy (115248)

        Well, figuring it at 24 songs at $1 each and adding treble damages to punish, the total award should be about $96. I think that is the victory I would like to see the RIAA be able to claim.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If a person is caught stealing one song, then the RIAA would get $0.99 USD

      What about when they upload the song? As far as I know, the cost of a license from any major label to make and distribute an arbitrary number of copies of a song goes for considerably more then $0.99. The cost of that kind of license would be much more sensible.

      • by EzInKy (115248)


        What about when they upload the song? As far as I know, the cost of a license from any major label to make and distribute an arbitrary number of copies of a song goes for considerably more then $0.99. The cost of that kind of license would be much more sensible.

        The industry could state the cost of that kind of license is a godzillian trillion dollars, so no, it is not sensible at all. Actual cost per song plus treble damages for willful distribution is the more than enough.

      • by Belial6 (794905)
        That's a good question. What does a license to play a song on the radio cost?
  • From the article: "Federal law says recording companies are entitled to $750 to $30,000 per illegally downloaded song - but a jury may raise that to as much as $150,000 per track if it finds the infringements were willful."

    Huh? So it *is* possible to use the "cat walked on my keyboard" defense and win? How can downloading music without adhering to the defined licensing terms not be willful? Ignorance is no defense for breaking the law (no matter if if it is a good or bad law).
  • its not 'greed'. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by unity100 (970058) on Friday January 29, 2010 @09:31PM (#30958196) Homepage Journal

    its distortion of justice, abuse of law, and exploitation of democracy.

    private interests are suppressing individual citizens to protect their near monopoly gained profits through legal system. in addition to that, they buy lawmakers and manufacture laws that will protect ill gained profits in expense of freedoms of citizens, as in the acta case.

    yet still, a lot of you just label this with a simple, insufficient word, 'greed'. this is not greed. its beyond greed. it has started to become a precise replication of feudal society back in middle ages, albeit, the feudalism has democracy as a storefront. we are supposedly free, yet, as citizens, our relative wealth and liberties compared to those small minority percentage on top of the pyramid didnt change by comparison. neither did the percentages of the wealthy and the ordinary had changed. just, the average standard of living globally has changed. back in middle ages wealthy could afford stone mansions adorned with gold while eating exquisite food whereas the ordinary person would live in thatched roof wooden huts eating gritty bread and cheese, now the wealthy can afford to take private jets halfway over the world on a whim while having hundred thousand dollar champagnes whereas the ordinary person has to work his/her butt off for your average meal. everything is the same in regard to justice in the society.

    now, just like everything else that has happened before and had an effect to equalize the situation, empowering the ordinary people and making them less dependent on rich overlords, internet is being suppressed on numerous excuses and grounds, one of which being 'intellectual property rights'. if you put this in a different context with different wording, like into middle ages, you would find that it has no difference from the concept of 'lord's hunting rights in the forest'. and internet is very very detrimental to those 'rights'. it empowers individuals, ordinary people can rise up to noticeable wealth without having to be subservient to any overlord on top with shareholdership or conglomerate ties, and become a threat to existing aristocracy.

    no, this is not a matter of simple 'greed'. this is a matter of freedom, and unfortunately, its being fought in the same basic ideals on which it was fought back in middle ages - inequality created due to skewed ownership rights and resulting control scheme. which is unfortunate, because it shows that nothing changed in principle compared to the middle ages, despite the stage and the costumes have changed.

    • by Derosian (943622)
      Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

      No seriously this is very well put, and I would like to hear more.
  • Is that 1.92 cents or 1.92 dollars?

Wernher von Braun settled for a V-2 when he coulda had a V-8.

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