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Music The Courts

8th Circuit Upholds $220,000 Verdict In Jammie Thomas Case 285

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit has upheld the initial jury verdict in the case against Jammie Thomas, Capitol Records v. Jammie Thomas-Rasset. This case was the first jury trial for a file-sharing suit brought by the major record labels, and focused on copyright infringement for 24 songs. The Court of Appeals has ruled that the award of $220,000, or $9250 per song, was not an unconstitutional violation of Due Process. The Court, in its 18-page decision (PDF), declined to reach the 'making available' issue, for procedural reasons."
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8th Circuit Upholds $220,000 Verdict In Jammie Thomas Case

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  • Analogy (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:16PM (#41302981)

    I've always thought of suing file sharers akin to attacking a swarm of bees with a hand pistol. It won't do a thing to stop the bees, but your bullet *might* hit one of those bees and absolutely obliterare them. Looks like Jammie was the unlucky bee.

  • Re:Good Lord (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TFAFalcon ( 1839122 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:36PM (#41303287)

    Is the judge allowed to tell the jury about jury nullification? If he is, then his/her hands are never tied.

  • Re:Due process? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:41PM (#41303381) Journal

    Where in the 8th amendment does it distinguish between "punitive damages" and "statutory damages"? It appears to me that statutory damages have been invented by the courts as a way to work around the 8th amendment. They are operating under the fiction that if they call it something else, the restrictions against excessive fines does not apply.

    Any honest person can see that this is a dishonest argument on the part of the judge. This sort of jurisprudence should simply not be tolerated.

  • My take (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve ( 949321 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:49PM (#41303517)
    I've read in the past about her case and this is what I remember being her main problems.
    1) She had bottom of the barrel lawyers in all of her trials. If I remember correctly at one of the later trials she was actually represented by law school students who prior to the trial basically bragged that this case was going to be "easy" to win. Practicing law for real may just be a little tougher than it seems in class, boys.
    2) She has been perceived extremely negatively by juries, which has definitely led to the size of the judgements against her.
    3) She's been her own worst enemy when testifying, but that relates to #1 in large part. She lacks a credible excuse for her behavior and seemed to jurors to be a liar and trying to cover up what she did. That has worked heavily against her in reaching a verdict.
    4) She has consistently displayed an outsized ego and an erroneous belief that she can beat the charges by going to court when in fact she has probably had the weakest case of anyone to ever challenge the RIAA. I would call her delusional.

    In summary, she's got a terrible case and she's tried to win it on the cheap and the outcomes are predictable.
  • Re:Good Lord (Score:5, Interesting)

    by swillden ( 191260 ) <> on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @02:52PM (#41303577) Homepage Journal

    Is the judge allowed to tell the jury about jury nullification? If he is, then his/her hands are never tied.

    I doubt that would have had any effect in this case. Three different juries: The first found that Thomas-Rasset willfully infringed and awarded $222K; the second was given instructions that were slightly more favorable to her, and found she infringed and awarded $1.9M; the third was only asked to reconsider the very high award of the second and awarded $1.5M.

    In all three cases, if the juries had had any inclination to favor Thomas-Rasset they could at the very least have awarded the statutory minimum of $750 per song, or $18,000, but they awarded 12, 105 and 83 times that minimum. What makes you think they'd have voted to nullify?

  • by GIL_Dude ( 850471 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @03:01PM (#41303737) Homepage
    Well, to be fair, they would have to settle the whole "making available" thing before they can determine if the actual damages (by law) were more than $24. Because, honestly, WHO makes the copy? The downloader does. Not the seeder. The seeder "makes available" and the legal status of that has really not been settled. It would be similar to you hanging up a pamphlet on a bulletin board near a copy machine. Yes, people may make copies. But you didn't. You made it available for them. Contrast this with the commercial violation of copyright making bootleg DVDs. The person making the DVD made the copy. Very different. I know it is semantics and all, but copyright law is full of things like this where things don't make a lot of sense.
  • Re:Due process? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday September 11, 2012 @04:09PM (#41304745) Journal

    Civil law is supposed to be about making the plaintiff whole again. Statutory damages are yet another dirty trick to implement punishment through civil law in order to avoid the protections in the constitution. The only difference between statutory damages and a fine is who gets paid, which is quite frankly irrelevant. It's a payment, as a consequence of breaking a law that was passed by the government, tried by the government, and enforced by the government. It's a fine, plain and simple and anyone who claims otherwise is a liar.

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