RIAA wins $1.5m from 24-song file sharer - Printable Version

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RIAA wins $1.5m from 24-song file sharer - TriWooOx - 11-05-2010

Quote:The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has scored a major court victory with a judgement against Minnesota housewife Jammie Thomas-Rasset after she was fined $1.5m (£927,000) for sharing 24 songs online.

Thomas-Rasset was the first person to challenge the RIAA in court rather than pay a fine when she was accused of file sharing in 2007. She was initially accused of sharing over 1,700 songs, but this was later cut to 24.

Initially the courts found her liable and fined her $220,000 (£136,000) for copyright infringement, but the judge was later found to have given the jury misleading guidance and a mistrial was declared.

A second court also found Thomas-Rasset guilty and increased the award to $1.92m (£1.18m). The US Department of Justice backed the use of heavy fines and said that the award was "not excessive".

Thomas-Rasset appealed, and last year a judge cut the fine to $54,000 (£33,380).

"The need for deterrence cannot justify a $1.92m verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music," said Judge Michael Davis at the time.

The RIAA then offered to settle the case for a one-off payment of $25,000 (£15,450) to charity, on condition that Thomas-Rasset agreed to vacate the verdict so that it would not become official case law. She refused.

The appeals court has now ruled that the fine should be $1.5m, an amount Thomas-Rasset has said she will never be able to pay. She has said she will appeal.

"We are again thankful to the jury for its service in this matter and that they recognised the severity of the defendant's misconduct," the RIAA said in a statement.

"Now with three jury decisions behind us, along with a clear affirmation of Ms Thomas-Rasset's wilful liability, it is our hope that she finally accepts responsibility for her actions."

The case has highlighted some interesting attitudes in the media industry. Marie L. van Uitert, an attorney at the Motion Picture Association of America, said that media companies should not be required to provide proof before bringing actions.

"Mandating such proof could have the pernicious effect of depriving copyright owners of a practical remedy against massive copyright infringement in many instances," she said.

"It is often very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to provide such direct proof when confronting modern forms of copyright infringement, whether over P2P networks or otherwise.

"Understandably, copyright infringers typically do not keep records of their infringement."

The decision will also be a wake-up call to businesses that have not yet blocked file sharing on corporate networks.

The bulk of legal cases so far have been against private individuals but, with damages per song set by the verdict at $62,500 (£38,650), a corporate prosecution could bankrupt a company.

RE: RIAA wins $1.5m from 24-song file sharer - icosaface - 11-05-2010

Yeah, proof of guilt, what a novel concept. How about suing the radio and tv stations for invading our personal air and cable space with their crap?