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I am a grouchy, bald headed old fart filled with opinions and not the least bit shy about sharing them.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

RIAA wins first trial to a jury

Jammie Thomas failed to impress a federal jury with her explanation as to exactly when her hard drive failed and was replaced. The fact that the Kazaa user name was the same user name that appears on all her e-mail accounts, chat accounts and on-line shopping accounts and her MySpace weighed heavily against her as well. No wonder the RIAA picked this one as their first hearing in front of a jury.

The jury returned a judgment of $222,000 against Thomas.

From what I read my personal opinion is she probably did it. In that case a spanking was in order. However, I have a major problem with the $222,000 plus the RIAA attorney's fees 24 songs.

The case will probably be appealed over the judge's final instructions to the jury. There is some debate as to whether "making available" without proof anyone actually downloaded anything from the defendant constitutes copyright violation in this country.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis was planning to instruct jurors as they began their deliberations that record companies would have to prove someone copied the songs to show copyright infringement.

But record company attorney Richard Gabriel cited cases where making songs available was found to be infringement, and Davis changed course.

Legal experts said the question isn't settled.

"Record labels don't like that because it's harder to prove," said Andrew Bridges, an attorney who has argued for the Computer & Communications Industry Association that copyright holders should have to prove the offered material is actually used.

"It's all about whether they get a free pass to impose onerous damages on people without actually having to prove a case," Bridges said.

International intellectual property treaties assume that simply making a work of art available can violate the copyright, said Jane C. Ginsburg, an intellectual law professor at Columbia Law School.

"It would be hard to see how we could be living up to our international obligations if the law were interpreted differently," she said.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Woman to pay downloading award herself

In that second to the last paragraph, note the key word "can." That is not the same as "will violate the copyright."

One down, 20,000 cases to go.

More Info:
Freedom to Tinker: Jury Finds User Liable for Downloading, Awards $9250 Per Song in Damages
Wired Threat Level: RIAA Defendant Maintains Innocence Day After Losing Court Battle
ARS Technica: RIAA trial verdict is in: jury finds Thomas liable for infringement


The United States is a nation of laws: badly written and randomly enforced.
- Frank Zappa


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