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Jammie Thomas Hit With $1.5 Million Verdict 764

Posted by timothy
from the tickling-the-dragon's-tail dept.
suraj.sun writes with this excerpt from CNET: "Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the Minnesota woman who has been fighting the recording industry over 24 songs she illegally downloaded and shared online four years ago, has lost another round in court as a jury in Minneapolis decided today that she was liable for $1.5 million in copyright infringement damages to Capitol Records, for songs she illegally shared in April 2006. ... The trial is the third for Thomas-Rasset, after one jury found her liable for copyright infringement in 2007 and ordered her to pay $222,000, the judge in the case later ruled that he erred in instructing the jury and called for a retrial. In the second trial, which took place in 2009, a jury found Thomas-Rasset liable for $1.92 million. Thomas-Rasset subsequently asked the federal court for a new trial or a reduction in the amount of damages in July 2009. But earlier this year, the judge found that amount to be 'monstrous and shocking' and reduced the amount to $54,000."
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Jammie Thomas Hit With $1.5 Million Verdict

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  • I thought that the $54k amount was the amount that she had to pay. How exactly is she now required to pay so much more?
    • Re:Confused? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Lunix Nutcase (1092239) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:48PM (#34126794)

      No, that was the amount after the amount of damages was reduced after the second trial. This is the result of the third trial.

      • Re:Confused? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Moryath (553296) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:05PM (#34127108)

        It actually goes on.

        But earlier this year, the judge found that amount to be "monstrous and shocking" and reduced the amount to $54,000. Following that, the RIAA informed Thomas-Rasset that it would accept $25,000--less than half of the court-reduced award--if she agreed to ask the judge to "vacate" his decision, which means removing his decision from the record. Thomas-Rasset rejected that offer almost immediately.

        The judge's decision stood as a great precedent.

        Therefore, the scumwad MafiAA lawyers tried to extort Thomas to have the judge's decision vacated - essentially, make it invalid so that nobody else the MafiAA extortion racket [arstechnica.com] targets can hold up the judge's decision as precedent against them.

        Also:
        Updated at 8:20 p.m. PT with comment from Thomas-Rasset attorney, and at 9:10 p.m. to emphasize the illegal sharing aspect of the copyright complaint.

        Why is it Cnet doesn't say who told them to do that? Some subhuman MafiAA goon lawyer wants to remain anonymous. How typical of them.

      • Re:Confused? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015) * on Thursday November 04, 2010 @10:58PM (#34132550)

        No, that was the amount after the amount of damages was reduced after the second trial. This is the result of the third trial.

        What I want to know is: is the RIAA stuffing the jury boxes or what? What kind of moron (much less twelve of them) could possibly turn out such a verdict? Don't they have computers? Don't they have Internet connections? Don't they have children? Do they not understand that they are targets just as much as Jammie Thomas? I sincerely hope that one of those fine, upstanding humanoid asses finds themselves on the receiving end of an RIAA "settlement offer." Poetic justice at its finest.

        I just cannot understand how a jury of anyone's peers could think this rational, much less reasonable. I'm more than a little concerned for our future, if this is what our legal system has been reduced to delivering instead of justice. I don't know: maybe her lawyers were just less than competent, but even so this just seems way over the top.

        Furthermore, how can a woman that downloaded a mere 26 music tracks be so demonized in court that such a travesty could result? Are the RIAA's attorneys gifted with Satanic powers? This just boggles the mind. Makes me want to run down to the local Best Buy and pocket a couple of CDs, just to demonstrate what stealing music actually means. "Yes, Your Honor, I stole that music. I didn't infringe anyone's copyright, however." Hell, a shoplifting charge wouldn't hold a candle to this "verdict".

  • $54,000 is still a lot of money, but it's doable, over a good number of years.

    1,5 mil, however, not so much.

    • by nomad-9 (1423689) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:05PM (#34127110)

      $54,000 is still a lot of money, but it's doable, over a good number of years.

      For a native-American woman mother of four, with a job as a natural resource coordinator in Indian reservation? I might be wrong, but don't think $54,000 is doable either.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Shakrai (717556) *

        For a native-American woman mother of four, with a job as a natural resource coordinator in Indian reservation? I might be wrong, but don't think $54,000 is doable either.

        Time to find a good bankruptcy lawyer. Hope she picks a better one than she did for her first RIAA trial....

    • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:59PM (#34128054)

      It's much more important for her to force an unpayable multi million dollar judgment. It might actually open people's eyes that corporations have convinced the government to treat copyright infringement harsher than murder and rape.

      A reasonable fine would be on the order of $50 to $100 per song.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by DIplomatic (1759914)

        A reasonable fine would be on the order of $50 to $100 per song.

        I see where you're getting at but in what world is $50-$100 a reasonable amount to pay for creating more of an infinite resource? Let's say you sell joke books. Now let's say I pick up one of your books in the store and read a joke. Later I repeat the joke to some of my friends and we all laugh. Have I stolen something? Am I a thief? Of course not.
        The real issue is that computers and the internet have created a truly unlimited resource. When you think about it, copying an MP3 is similar to matter replicati

  • No, Wait... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:49PM (#34126808)

    So, 24 songs are worth $222,000... no, actually it's $1,920,000... wait, I mean $54,000... did I say that? I meant $1,500,000...

    Who the hell decides these amounts? The guy who wrote the Windows file copy dialog?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Of course not. If that were the case, we'd have seen an 'infinite' and some negative value as well.

    • Re:No, Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Moryath (553296) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:00PM (#34127020)

      Dope-smoking MafiAA accountants. The same people who decide that a multiplatinum album grossing over a billion dollars in sales, for which the band was fronted $45k each in a year, studio time perhaps $500k, physical production run costs possibly $200k, and $200,000 in "tour support" can somehow lose money [techdirt.com].

      See also (though I usually hate linking to wikipoo-dia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hollywood_accounting [wikipedia.org]

      • Re:No, Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

        by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:14PM (#34127260) Journal

        And that's if they even bother keeping track of royalties. Robert Fripp has been fighting for years to even get a proper accounting for the sales of King Crimson and his other records from UMG after it swallowed his old record company.

        Record companies are some of the biggest crooks in the business. In the 40s and 50s they took advantage of a lot of artists, paying them peanuts. Even with really big artists like the Beatles they played dirty pool. They tried to screw John Lennon around by paying him Beatles-era royalty rates for his solo stuff despite the fact that he had negotiated higher rates after he left the Beatles. For some time EMI/Capitol was withholding royalties from the Beatles, and it took a court action to finally force open their claws. Then there's the breaches of contracts like EMI did against Pink Floyd over selling songs on online services, despite the fact that the contracts very explicitly stated that the albums were to be sold as a single unit.

      • Re:No, Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:33PM (#34127636) Journal

        >>>Dope-smoking MafiAA accountants.

        I still think a bullet to the head of the RIAA CEO would do a world of good. And if he gets replaced, remove him too. And again and again until these idiots stop turning Our citizens into slaves via outrageous 1.5 million dollar/life sentences. Death to tyrants whether they be government leaders (Saddam) or corporate XOs.

        • Re:No, Wait... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:13PM (#34128204)
          I think it is only a matter of time before they push the wrong file-sharer too far with these outrageous lawsuits before someone snaps and goes postal at 1025 F St. NW, Washington D.C., not that I would ever condone such a thing, because that would be wrong.
      • Re:No, Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

        by commodore64_love (1445365) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:35PM (#34127674) Journal

        P.S.

        The Canadian version of RIAA (CRIA) owes *billions* to various singers for music that was used in greatest hits CDs, or TV ads, but never compensated. You see stealing is a-okay if you are the Masters. But not for us Serfs or Artists... we just get screwed.

    • by daremonai (859175) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:02PM (#34127052)
      It varies depending on which browser you use. Hint: Chrome gives you the lowest amount.
    • Re:No, Wait... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by rossjudson (97786) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:44PM (#34127864) Homepage

      The interesting bit here is the "redacted special jury verdict [justia.com]".

      Page down through it, and you'll see that it's a simple set of questions, usually song-by-song. Near the end the jury is asked to set damages for each song. Each entry has $80,000 entered, which is pretty much half-way between the minimum ($750) and the maximum ($150,000).

      Every song has the same damages assigned. Were all the songs downloaded the same number of times? We don't know...there is no evidence that the songs were ever downloaded by anyone else, as far as I can tell.

      Are all these songs equal money-earners for the label? Who knows?

      It's a remarkably lazy bit of life destruction from a senseless and cruel jury.

      This is exactly why a judge revised the verdict, calling it "monstrous". He isn't name-calling the plaintiffs. It's directed squarely at an idiot jury.

      • Re:No, Wait... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by stdarg (456557) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:52PM (#34128684)

        You've got to hand it to the RIAA lawyers for truly excellent jury selection skills.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mrxak (727974)

          Yeah, where the heck are these jurors coming from? I've never been on a jury for a civil case before, but I find it hard to believe the juries on civil cases would be so callous. On criminal juries, at least the ones I've been on, people have been extremely mindful and considerate.

    • Re:No, Wait... (Score:5, Informative)

      by Intron (870560) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:54PM (#34128716)

      So, 24 songs are worth $222,000... no, actually it's $1,920,000... wait, I mean $54,000... did I say that? I meant $1,500,000...

      Who the hell decides these amounts? The guy who wrote the Windows file copy dialog?

      Just look up "restitution" in google news for recent settlements:

      $53,824 for stabbing someone in Pittsburgh.
      $150,000 for selling 15 skid steer loaders (whatever they are, they sound big).
      $1.5M for giving away 24 songs

      See? The law makes perfect sense.

  • by d474 (695126) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:50PM (#34126816)
    Look at those dollar amounts. First trial: $220,000 Second: $1.92 million Third: $54,000 Fourth: $1.5 million

    Something about the shear inconsistency of the outcomes tells me how broken this system of courts truly is. It's not based on anything real. It's based on appearances, fuzzy opinions, manipulated interpretations, etc. This woman shared some music over the internet, and they want to financially crucify her. $54,000 thousand would take a lot of people a long time to pay off, let alone $1.5 million. That amount would effectively end her financial life.
    • There have only been 3 trials. The $54,000 amount was a reduction of the second trial's damage award.

    • by betterunixthanunix (980855) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:53PM (#34126902)
      Copyrights were never really meant to target individual citizens; copyright is a regulation on businesses, and should only be applied to businesses. The way the RIAA is suing individuals is a disgrace, and their lawyers should be reprimanded for abusing the court system.

      Not that anyone really cares about what is best for the people of the United States.
      • by mea37 (1201159) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:06PM (#34127136)

        Copyrights were never really meant to target individual citizens? Says who? I don't see any support for that claim in the Constitutional basis for copyright law; or in the first copyright act; or in any other subsequent copyright act that I've read...

        In fact every copyright act I've read is explicitly not merely a regulation on business, as they specifically assign liability for infringement even if it isn't commercial in nature.

        Perhaps you're mistaking how you'd like to see copyright used as somehow representing what it was "meant" to be used for?

        • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:59PM (#34128774)

          In fact every copyright act I've read is explicitly not merely a regulation on business, as they specifically assign liability for infringement even if it isn't commercial in nature.

          You are ignorant then. It was only in 1997 that non-commercial infringement became a criminal offense. [wikimedia.org]

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by jmerlin (1010641)
            According to that legislation, for it to be criminal, the infringement must exceed $1000 in any 180 day period of the retail price of the works copied. She infringed 24 songs. At the iTunes rate (which I call retail), wouldn't that just be $24 + tax? It's still not criminal, but these "damages" claimed are clearly punitive and excessive. Why doesn't the constitution hold much weight these days?

            For the obvious counter-argument of "but she shared it," note that the law as of now indicates it must be wi
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by geniice (1336589)

            The case was civil law not criminal. The criminal areas of copyright law are in any case almost never used so it's the civil stuff (which applies to all persons natural or otherwise) that matters

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510)

              The case was civil law not criminal. The criminal areas of copyright law are in any case almost never used so it's the civil stuff (which applies to all persons natural or otherwise) that matters

              Thjat's a meaningless and arbitrary distinction when claiming that copyright law was meant to target private individuals at least as much as businesses. Just because some laws targeted everybody doesn't make the emphasis on for profit piracy any less.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by mlts (1038732) *

        Copyright/trademark/patent laws were meant to target people making money from other people's IP. For example, if someone makes shoes with a brand trademark and sells them, they are liable for the trademark violation. Or if they are selling for profit burns of Justin Bieber CDs, they are liable for copyright violations. Same with someone using a patent someone else owns for profit.

        None of these laws were used against individuals for nonprofit use, -ever-, in the history of the US. Until the last decade.

        • by Talderas (1212466) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:30PM (#34127552)

          Economically speaking, you have profited from the copying.

          Let's say a CD is set at a market value of $12 and you have $50.

          Instead of buying that CD you instead download the songs from that CD.

          You now have $50 cash and $12 worth of music for a total of $62 of value. You are now effectively $12 richer than you were since you have the music and you retained the $12.

          If you bought the CD you would have $12 worth of music and $38 in cash for a total of $50 of value.

          • by Kjella (173770) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @03:50PM (#34128668) Homepage

            Tell me where I can get $12 - or indeed any money - for my pirated MP3s. If you can't relatively easily convert it to real money, then it's not "commercial gain" and speaking as if you had $62 is bullshit. Obviously you are getting some personal benefit from it - people rarely do things to harm themselves - but it doesn't practically have any value to sell. This is exactly what differentiates commercial and non-commercial activity. Actually it's probably even stricter than that, as things that do have a commercial value like a user dose of drugs can be considered to be for personal use, but being unsellable is quite definitive. Oddly enough the US decided to claim swapping one unsellable pirated copy for another unsellable pirated copy to be commercial gain, but in my book 0 + 0 still equals 0 real money.

          • by IICV (652597) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:36PM (#34129316)

            And what exactly is wrong with that? I thought one of the wonders of capitalism was that although some people might have a smaller slice of the pie, the pie itself is always growing. Well, in your example, the pie has just grown by $12. Isn't that something we should be celebrating, not suing over?

          • by melikamp (631205) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:43PM (#34129414) Homepage Journal

            Economically speaking, you have profited from the copying.

            No, this is a make-belief. Alice buys the internet connection and pays a few cents for torrenting 4 albums. She then spends a few hours listening to them. This is all pure loss for Alice, in economic terms. Somehow this escaped your analysis.

            Instead, you reason, if the copyright holder sets the price at $10 per album, then Alice's "gross profit" is $40. And if the copyright holder sets the price at $1000000 per album (which is entirely legit and practical the under current law), then, again, in line with what you are saying, Alice's "gross profit" is $4000000. So you are saying that her "profit" is whatever number the copyright holder says it is. This, of course, is just the kind of unadulterated bullshit that has NOTHING to do with economics or profit, as understood by anyone with a working brain.

          • by Pentium100 (1240090) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:52PM (#34129546)

            Let's say a CD is set at a market value of $12 and you have $50.

            Instead of buying that CD you instead download the songs from that CD.

            You now have $50 cash and $12 worth of music for a total of $62 of value. You are now effectively $12 richer than you were since you have the music and you retained the $12.

            Can I sell the files and get the $12? If not, then I do not "have $12 worth of music", just like my PC that I paid $2000 for is no longer worth $2000. Worth is determined by how much you can get by selling it and not by how much someone else asks for it (in this case, someone might pay $12 for the retail CD, but would not pay the same $12 for the same songs on a CD-R).

            Also, you do not know if I would have bought the CD for $12 if the songs were not available for download. I could probably have taped the songs off the radio. Or borrowed the CD from a friend and copied it. Or downloaded some other songs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        Copyrights were never really meant to target individual citizens; copyright is a regulation on businesses, and should only be applied to businesses.

        Of which you can provide numerous citations from common law tradition, case law and statutory law to back this up, right?

    • by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:55PM (#34126932) Journal
      There's a common denominator in the variability here... jury vs judge decision.
  • When you are in a hole, stop digging. This applies more to her "lawyers" than to herself though.

    • by rotide (1015173) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:56PM (#34126946)
      If you don't have the money to pay 5k let alone 50k+ what does it matter if they tell you to pay millions? Why not billions? or trillions? It's a pipe dream to expect that amount. If I were her, I'd try to get that number as high as possible. The higher it is, the more the system looks like nonsense and the more chance there is for positive change.
    • by ZombieBraintrust (1685608) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:59PM (#34126986)
      I don't think you understand what she and her lawyers are after. The last thing they want is for the Jury to find her innocent or award a reasonable amount of damages. The more absurd the amount the better. They need the award to be absurdly high in order for an federal appeals judge to rule the law is in unconstatutional. Thats the end game here.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by rakuen (1230808)
        If this is indeed the endgame, it's not just coming up with absurd decisions. It's also getting the much smaller amounts in the middle. The situation looks even more ridiculous when the jury and the judges come up with polar opposite amounts for damages. A yo-yo of decisions on the same case does not make sense in the record books.
        • by Dhalka226 (559740) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @05:48PM (#34130266)

          First, let me say that I do NOT think that she is deliberately trying to get absurd rewards. I just don't buy that argument. But playing devil's advocate and agreeing with it...

          A yo-yo of decisions on the same case does not make sense in the record books.

          That's the point. The Supreme Court takes cases based largely on two criteria: First, that there is an important constitutional issue to settle. And second, that lower courts have arrived at different decisions. If every court that has ever heard a case agrees on how it should be handled, there's little reason to step in -- unless they want to reverse it. I don't see any reason that lower appeals courts wouldn't also consider cases along such lines.

          This is one case with one set of facts, and yet four different outcomes. On the one hand you have a couple of jury decisions obviously attempting to apply the law, but arriving at pretty wildly different decisions. $1.92MM is over 30% higher than $1.5MM just in percentage terms, and almost half a million dollars higher in absolute terms. And then of course the first jury with a $222K verdict that is nearly an order of magnitude different. That alone is an indication that the law may be too vague and require clarification, either by the Congress or the judiciary.

          At the same time we have judges raising constitutional concerns. An award that is "monstrous and shocking" is essentially code for "in violation of the Eighth Amendment," and his reduction took the damages from the highest the case has ever seen to four times less than the lowest jury award. That's significant. So startling, in fact, that the RIAA offered to let her settle for half that ($25,000) if she asked the judge to vacate his verdict -- it is so vastly different, in short, that it has the RIAA worried it might be used as precedent.

          These are all extremely intriguing things for appeal, and for a higher court to step in and go "alright, wait a minute here; something obviously is not right." If they do so, and if they agree that following the law leads to unconstitutional awards, or even that the law is so ambiguous that justice is not being served leaving it so wildly in the jury's hands, it may end up with the law being struck down.

    • by IndustrialComplex (975015) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:59PM (#34127000)

      When you are in a hole, stop digging. This applies more to her "lawyers" than to herself though.

      If the hole deeper than you can climb out of no matter what, why not keep digging and bring the asshole who tossed you in there down with you?

  • by nick357 (108909) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:51PM (#34126828)
  • Seriously? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dexter Herbivore (1322345) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:51PM (#34126852) Journal
    Why is it that in jury trials she gets slapped with over a million in damages, yet judges appear to favour a milder approach? Are the "Jury of your peers" seriously that gullible that they feel they have to institute massive punitive damages on an individual?
    • Re:Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by characterZer0 (138196) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:58PM (#34126972)

      Many jurors go into the courtroom with the idea that their purpose is to convict criminals and make them pay, and that anybody who is a defendant must be a criminal. They think the defendants are not like themselves at all. The do not think they are peers.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Spad (470073)

      A jury of your peers is really a jury of people who weren't smart enough to get out of jury duty.

      See also: Any survey results ever.

  • The Jury is Out... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by digitaldc (879047) * on Thursday November 04, 2010 @01:55PM (#34126938)
    ...the Minneapolis jury is pretty misinformed and outright unreasonable.

    Are we now going to get all the people who illegally made mix-tapes for their friends in the 1980s and fine them too?
  • by zero_out (1705074) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:00PM (#34127014)
    This amounts to nothing more than legalized extortion and racketeering. How can a so-called "jury of her peers" possibly allow such a thing to happen? I can see a stodgy old judge doing something ridiculous like this, but a jury? They are supposed to possess the collected wisdom of several lifetimes, yet they allow this to continue. It boggles the mind.
  • Disease v. Symptom (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:04PM (#34127076) Homepage

    earlier this year, the judge found that amount to be 'monstrous and shocking' and reduced the amount to $54,000.

    [the jury] decided today that she was liable for $1.5 million in copyright infringement damages

    The jury is instructed to apply the law without considering whether the law is constitutional. The judge is applying his perspective on constitutionality. Given a 30x difference in outcomes, it seems that there is a pretty severe disconnect between the law and what is right according this official boundaries of this nation's legislative charter.

    What do we do to find the law to be 'monstrous and shocking'? What is the process for finding the legislature and DoJ to be 'monstrous and shocking'? For finding that they do not derive their just powers from the will of the governed and have violated their sworn duty to The Constitution in favor of their sponsors' will-to-power?

  • by immakiku (777365) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:06PM (#34127130)

    The most interesting part, for those of us who read the article, is:

    But earlier this year, the judge found that amount to be "monstrous and shocking" and reduced the amount to $54,000. Following that, the RIAA informed Thomas-Rasset that it would accept $25,000--less than half of the court-reduced award--if she agreed to ask the judge to "vacate" his decision, which means removing his decision from the record. Thomas-Rasset rejected that offer almost immediately.

    RIAA is scared their tactics will no longer work. When faced with more reasonable verdicts, their defendants are probably more likely to fight it out in court, making RIAA's whole business litigation plan useless.

  • by igorthefiend (831721) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:07PM (#34127142)

    Every last one of these acts will have a twitter / facebook / forum etc... at least a couple of them are going to be people who interact with their fans on there in person.

    Do they know that this is being done in their name? We know that songs are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capitol_v._Thomas#The_24_songs [wikipedia.org] so let's start asking them the question...

  • by teamhasnoi (554944) <.teamhasnoi. .at. .yahoo.com.> on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:12PM (#34127218) Homepage Journal
    that if any of the jurors were 'investigated', you would find quite a bit of infringing material in their homes. I have yet to meet anyone that doesn't have a old cassette of songs dubbed from someone else, a CD of tunes made for a party or wedding, a photocopy of some book or newspaper, lyrics on their website or profile, etc. Even if they don't have these items currently, they've made infringing copies in the past.

    Everyone in the US is guilty of copyright infringement at one time or another. Most people don't ever think about copyright, or if they do, it's to make up the rules as they go.

    I wonder how the jury would react if they were sent invoices for damages for their past and current infringements, based on the ridiculous damages they approved for this woman.
  • Juries (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:21PM (#34127390)

    I can't imagine sitting on a jury and handing out an award like this, even if she is guilty of the charges. It's like people lose all sense of reality in the jury room. I wouldn't know for sure because when I give my occupation as "satellite communications engineer" I'm generally excused by the defense in the next breath.

    However, you listen to the juror interviews after some recent high profile cases with questionable verdicts, and you can see how a lot of them get wrapped up in the pseudo-religious fervor of CIVIC DUTY[TM] and lose themselves in the minutiae of what are in many cases pretty clear situations if you just hold on to your common sense.

    I love the "our hands were tied" excuse. So screw the jury instructions or whatever you imagine is tying your hands. It's *your* baby in that jury room. Give the correct verdict. Maybe it'll get overturned by another court, but at least you did the right thing.

  • by Solandri (704621) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:27PM (#34127492)
    They keep buying the RIAA's line that she's somehow responsible for the tens of thousands of other people who partially or indirectly downloaded the songs from her. There are two ways to look at this:

    100,000 people download a song. Each person is criminally liable for their own download. Fines should thus reflect people trying to be cheap and get a $1 product for free. Something on the order of $2-$20 per song would probably be the right amount.

    100,000 people download a song. One person is determined to be the criminal mastermind and fined for the infringement of all of those people. So a fine on the order of $200k-$2 mil is probably the right amount here. But because you've made one person pay for everyone's infringement, that one fine indemnifies the 100,000 from any charges for the crime.

    What the RIAA is trying to do is get a fine on this woman as if she were the criminal mastermind behind it all, and then apply the same fine to the other 100,000 people. It just doesn't work that way logically. Either each person is responsible for their own actions, or one person is responsible for everyone's actions. It's totally illogical to argue that each person is responsible for everyone's actions.

    As has been pointed out, the real problem here is that the RIAA is taking copyright laws written to be used against commercial copyright infringement, and using them against individuals. Commercial copyright infringement (e.g. mass-producing bootleg CDs) fits the "criminal mastermind" model, and the fines were set up to reflect that. If a bootleg shop got caught, they'd be sued, fined, and the people who bought those bootleg CDs weren't liable for anything. Totally different situation, totally different penalties, which the RIAA is misusing (or abusing if you prefer) against individual infringers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      In fact, if she were sharing files through Kazaa, it is unlikely that more than a hundred uploads ever took place from any one song file.
  • by sootman (158191) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @02:36PM (#34127690) Homepage Journal

    ... you would have to get 3 DUIs per week for a YEAR to reach 1.5 million dollars. Clearly one person sharing music online is as big a danger to society as 150 drunks on the road.

    Seriously, this is so out of whack. There is a reason punitive damages exist but this is like executing people for speeding. If Jamie earns--excuse me, NETS--$50k per year, this would take 30 years to pay off.

  • by ArhcAngel (247594) on Thursday November 04, 2010 @04:44PM (#34129440)

    She just needs to author 24 songs and perform them. Record the performances and give the RIAA or individual studio the rights to the songs she wrote. Since the jury said 24 songs are worth 1.5 million her debt is paid. I see an opportunity to retire early here. Where is that sheet music pad I got at the swap meet last year...

  • The RIAA proved to the satisfaction of the jury that Ms. Thomas-Rasset had downloaded 24 mp3 song files.

    There was NO evidence of her being a "distributor" which would have required
    -proof of dissemination of copies
    -proof that the dissemination was to the public at large, AND
    -proof of a sale, another transfer of ownership, a rental, a lease, or a lending.

    There was no proof of any of the above.

    So all there was was 24 downloads.

    Wholesale price [70 cents] minus saved expenses [~ 35 cents] = 35 cents lost profit from a lost sale.
    35 cents x 15% [the ratio of lost sales to unauthorized downloads according to music industry statistical companies] = 5 cents.
    5 cents x 24 files = $1.20.

    The statutory damages should not have exceeded $100 in all.

"Stupidity, like virtue, is its own reward" -- William E. Davidsen

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