AfterDawn: Tech news

Jammie Thomas gets new trial against RIAA

Written by Andre Yoskowitz (Google+) @ 25 Sep 2008 21:59 User comments (16)

Jammie Thomas gets new trial against RIAA A federal judge has declared a mistrial in the case of Jammie Thomas, the Minnesota woman who was found guilty of sharing 24 songs via P2P app Kazaa saying he made an error that "substantially prejudiced" her rights.
Thomas' case was the first file sharing case to ever go to trial and after being found guilty she was ordered to pay $222,000 USD to the Big 4 record labels.

Judge Michael J. Davis is now allowing a new trial and is asking Congress to change any copyright law that allows for excessive monetary rewards.

The issue that led to the mistrial is whether the record labels need to prove that anyone actually downloaded their copyrighted music or if just the fact that someone is sharing them is enough for a conviction. For the original trial the judge said it was not necessary to prove that anyone downloaded the tracks but he has since reversed that decision.

"Now they're going to have to prove their claims," Thomas said. "They never had to prove anything before. Now they do. It kind of levels the playing field a little bit."

Thomas however, does not feel she will have the chance at a new trial for awhile as she expects the record labels to appeal and that the decision will go all the way to the Supreme Court.

An RIAA spokesperson said the plaintiffs were now assessing their legal options but said the decision was "not unexpected."

"Regardless of this narrow issue, a jury of her own peers unanimously found Ms. Thomas liable for copyright theft and for causing significant harm to the music community," added the spokesperson. "We have confidence in our case and the facts assembled against the defendant."

Judge Davis did not rule on voiding the $222,000 damage award but did ask Congress to change the federal Copyright Act. "The Court does not condone Thomas' actions, but it would be a farce to say that a single mother's acts of using Kazaa are the equivalent, for example, to the acts of global financial firms illegally infringing on copyrights in order to profit in the securities market," he wrote in his decision.

"Unfortunately, by using Kazaa, Thomas acted like countless other Internet users,"
he added. "Her alleged acts were illegal, but common. Her status as a consumer who was not seeking to harm her competitors or make a profit does not excuse her behavior. But it does make the award of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages unprecedented and oppressive."

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16 user comments

126.9.2008 0:20

OUTSTANDING!

I guess reason CAN penetrate a judge's skull.

Once in a while, anyway.

226.9.2008 0:38

it only worked cause that particular judge probably wasn't paid off by the RIAA.

326.9.2008 1:36

"Regardless of this narrow issue, a jury of her own peers unanimously found Ms. Thomas liable for copyright theft and for causing significant harm to the music community." - riaa spokesperson

What else was the jury supposed to do when given such confining and restricting guidelines? Seriously. The judge had basically said that the plaintiffs didn't need to prove their damages in court, just take the plaintiffs' word that they have suffered monetary losses.

Yeah, 'cause the riaa are soooooo trustworthy. I thought in America you were innocent until proven guilty. And, no, a blind judge rushing through a case and skewering American jurisprudence just to be done with the case only proves the judge's incompetence.

At least his eyes have been opened and he's seen the light. I wonder, has he found God? Or was it more like finding out that his kids had been downloading songs and decided that he didn't want them going through that ordeal?

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Sep 2008 @ 1:38

426.9.2008 3:17
1bonehead
Inactive

Originally posted by mspurloc:
OUTSTANDING!

I guess reason CAN penetrate a judge's skull.

Once in a while, anyway.

What do you expect ? He/she is a lawyer too !

The BPI Are: SONY, UNIVERSAL, WARNER GROUP, EMI.
The RIAA Soundexchange Are: SONY, UNIVERSAL, WARNER GROUP, EMI.
The IFPI Are: The same anti consumer lot as listed above!
The MPAA Are: SONY, UNIVERSAL, WARNER GROUP, DISNEY, PARAMOUNT, FOX.

526.9.2008 4:49
13thHouR
Inactive

Wow who would have thought it, they actually have to prove that the files are indeed copy-write protected media.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Sep 2008 @ 4:53

626.9.2008 5:40

How can "alleged acts" be illegal? Or BE anything? Did a judge really say complete nonsense?

726.9.2008 7:25

Originally posted by DDR4life:
Yeah, 'cause the riaa are soooooo trustworthy. I thought in America you were innocent until proven guilty. And, no, a blind judge rushing through a case and skewering American jurisprudence just to be done with the case only proves the judge's incompetence.

I think it's a little bit more nuanced than that. What the judge said is that even though it is a proven fact that a person is sharing music on a P2P network, in order to actually find that person guilty, it also needs to be proven that someone actually downloaded it as well.

Up until now, the general idea was that proof of sharing suffices to convict a person. In that sense, this new ruling is much better, transparant and 'fair' to both parties.

I can share 1.000 songs, but if nobody downloads them, how can I be found guilty of harming the music industry, right? That's the nuance being made by this judge now, and I think it's a very well-thought concept he came up with.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Sep 2008 @ 7:28

826.9.2008 9:56

This women has some fight in her, she's taking on the big 4 basically by herself. I just hope her family is doing alright during this ordeal. Bravo Jammie keep on fighting.

926.9.2008 12:28

Quote:
Originally posted by DDR4life:
Yeah, 'cause the riaa are soooooo trustworthy. I thought in America you were innocent until proven guilty. And, no, a blind judge rushing through a case and skewering American jurisprudence just to be done with the case only proves the judge's incompetence.

I think it's a little bit more nuanced than that. What the judge said is that even though it is a proven fact that a person is sharing music on a P2P network, in order to actually find that person guilty, it also needs to be proven that someone actually downloaded it as well.

Up until now, the general idea was that proof of sharing suffices to convict a person. In that sense, this new ruling is much better, transparant and 'fair' to both parties.

I can share 1.000 songs, but if nobody downloads them, how can I be found guilty of harming the music industry, right? That's the nuance being made by this judge now, and I think it's a very well-thought concept he came up with.
If this goes through. I'd be interested to see how it affects a downloader or one who backs up a movie. Currently, copying a DVD without the intent of monetary gain is punishable by up to $5,000 or 5 years in prison (something like that....correct me if I'm wrong).

As the judge stated - "Her status as a consumer who was not seeking to harm her competitors or make a profit does not excuse her behavior. But it does make the award of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages unprecedented and oppressive."

Who doesn't think the FBI wanrings and penalties are oppressive?

And then how will it affect the laws on "illegal" downloading? If someone downloads a movie from a server using warez links, should he/she be subject to excessive fines and prison time if he/she did not share them?

If this change gets approved, then we may see some changes across the board.

1026.9.2008 13:18
duke8888
Inactive

Originally posted by navi1199:
it only worked cause that particular judge probably wasn't paid off by the RIAA.
Your remark is so far out of this world. A federal judge taking a bribe from a record company! The judges go by the laws that are on the books and they have to decide how to interpret them.

1126.9.2008 13:29

Just saw an update on Jammy Thomas's case. The judge has reversed the decision and canceled the award issued to the RIAA. Here's the story as I found it.
"The $222,000 verdict against Jammy Thomas for copyright infringement by P2P is no more. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis dismissed the verdict (PDF), saying it was based on the faulty “making available” theory of distribution. Thomas will face a new trial, in which the RIAA will have to prove actual distribution.

The decision means the RIAA now has zero wins at trial, Wired notes.

RIAA’s “making available” theory would hold that someone has distributed copyright material merely by creating the potential for distribution. Under the RIAA’s theory, it need not show actual distribution. The judge soundly denied this legal reasoning:

If simply making a copyrighted work available to the public constituted a distribution, even if no member of the public ever accessed that work, copyright owners would be able to make an end run around the standards for assessing contributor copyright infringement.

And Judge Davis went further, “implor[ing] Congress to amend the Copyright Act to address liability and damages in peer-to-peer network cases…”

While the Court does not discount Plaintiffs’ claim that, cumulatively, illegal downloading has far-reaching effects on their businesses, the damages awarded in this case are wholly disproportionate to the damages suffered by Plaintiffs.

Thumbs up from EFF:

EFF applauds Chief Judge Davis’s thorough rejection of the RIAA’s effort to rewrite copyright law and thereby avoid the trouble of actually proving any infringement has occurred. And we wholeheartedly endorse the court’s call to amend the Copyright Act’s oppressive damages provisions.

One important tidbit, little noticed yet, pointed out by Excess Copyright: “distribution to an investigator, such as MediaSentry, can constitute unauthorized distribution.”"

So it looks like they're really on the run now, don't it. The only case I can see them finally winning is the guy who erased his hard drive against court orders and in that case it's his own fault because by doing so he made himself look guilty in not only the eyes of the RIAA, who thinks everybody is guilty no matter what, and in the eyes of the court for disobeying a court edict.

1226.9.2008 14:05

Quote:
Originally posted by navi1199:
it only worked cause that particular judge probably wasn't paid off by the RIAA.
Your remark is so far out of this world. A federal judge taking a bribe from a record company! The judges go by the laws that are on the books and they have to decide how to interpret them.
True! There is, of course, corruption in every country. But, bribes are very rare in the U.S.A. It's not culturally or legally acceptable. If you try to bribe, or "tip" a low-level official or government employee (for example, at the Department Of Motor Vehicles), the official/employee would be shocked, and would probably warn you that you could be arrested! Your friends and neighbors would be shocked too... It's just not done. If you try to bribe a judge, you probably will be arrested.

When a government official is caught accepting a bribe, they loose their job, and they sometimes go to prison. Judges (and most government employees) are well paid, and federal judges have lifetime appointments. Only a dishonest fool will risk that for a bribe.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Sep 2008 @ 14:20

1326.9.2008 14:42

Errr i don't think it's very rare... The smart ones don't just accept bribes in broad light. Even if they do, they just twist the words... The whole political structure is based on bribes (anywhere, as long as there are human beings, hell, make that singular, man or woman). It really comes down to, the honest ones paying for the wants of the crooked ones. The government bailout is a perfect example...

1426.9.2008 18:02

Screwwwwww the RIAA!!!!!!!!! That's my 2 cents on the whole thing.

1526.9.2008 18:06

Quote:
Quote:
Originally posted by navi1199:
it only worked cause that particular judge probably wasn't paid off by the RIAA.
Your remark is so far out of this world. A federal judge taking a bribe from a record company! The judges go by the laws that are on the books and they have to decide how to interpret them.
True! There is, of course, corruption in every country. But, bribes are very rare in the U.S.A. It's not culturally or legally acceptable. If you try to bribe, or "tip" a low-level official or government employee (for example, at the Department Of Motor Vehicles), the official/employee would be shocked, and would probably warn you that you could be arrested! Your friends and neighbors would be shocked too... It's just not done. If you try to bribe a judge, you probably will be arrested.

When a government official is caught accepting a bribe, they loose their job, and they sometimes go to prison. Judges (and most government employees) are well paid, and federal judges have lifetime appointments. Only a dishonest fool will risk that for a bribe.
Ur kidding right?

1627.9.2008 3:56
1bonehead
Inactive

But will Ms Thomas have enough money for defense in a new trial ?


The BPI Are: SONY, UNIVERSAL, WARNER GROUP, EMI.
The RIAA Soundexchange Are: SONY, UNIVERSAL, WARNER GROUP, EMI.
The IFPI Are: The same anti consumer lot as listed above!
The MPAA Are: SONY, UNIVERSAL, WARNER GROUP, DISNEY, PARAMOUNT, FOX.

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