Jury orders woman to pay US$222,000 for illegal music sharing

A Minneapolis woman has been convicted of illegally downloading and sharing copyrighted music over a peer-to-peer network.

A US federal jury, on Thursday ordered a Minneapolis woman to pay US$220,000 to six music companies for illegally downloading and sharing copyrighted music over a peer-to-peer network.

The 12-person jury said Jammie Thomas must pay US$9,250 for each of the 24 songs that were the focus of the case. In their complaint, the six music companies that sued her had claimed that Thomas had illegally shared a total of 1,702 songs over the Kazaa file-sharing network, but they chose to focus on a representative list of 24 songs.

The verdict was greeted with dismay by many in the blogosphere who have been following the case closely for some time now.

New York lawyer Ray Beckerman, writing in the Recording Industry vs The People blog, called the verdict "one of the most irrational things I have ever seen in my life in the law."

"A verdict of US$222,000 for infringement of 24 song files worth a total of US$23.76?" he asked. "It is an outrage, and I hope it is a wake-up call to the world that we all need to start supporting the defendants in these cases."

Commenting on Gizmodo.com, a reader identifying himself as DirtyBacon said he was shocked but not surprised by the verdict. "I guess my two mp3 players, that have thousands of songs that I bought on CD, are illegal contraband," he said. "My options of moving to Asian countries for work are looking more appealing. I've officially lost faith."

The six music companies that sued Thomas were Capitol Records, Sony BMG, Arista Records, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings and Warner Bros. Records.

In their 12-page complaint filed with the US District Court in Duluth, the six recording companies claimed that on February 21, 2005, an investigator working for the plaintiffs detected an individual -- later identified as Thomas -- distributing 1,702 audio files from a Kazaa shared folder on her computer.

The complaint alleged that Thomas was distributing the files for free over the Internet to potentially millions of other Kazaa users. The companies claimed that Thomas knew such conduct was unlawful but willfully proceeded with violating copyrights. They also said that Thomas intentionally concealed her infringement by "fabricating a clean hard drive to produce to Plaintiffs for inspection."

"Copyright infringement is a strict liability offense, and Plaintiffs need not demonstrate Defendant's intent to infringe, or even knowledge of infringement, in order to prove copyright infringement," the companies said in their complaint.

In her defense, Thomas, who is a single mother, claimed that she did not download anything from Kazaa or any other file-sharing network. She questioned whether the companies that were suing her were really the true copyright owners of the music in question.

In her formal statement to the court prior to the trial, Thomas said that even if the plaintiffs were able to prove that the IP address in question belonged to her, that didn't prove that she actually downloaded any copyrighted material. She claimed there might be "alternative theories" without mentioning what they were.

Yesterday's jury verdict after two days of testimony is likely to come as a shot in the arm for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), which has brought thousands of lawsuits against individuals such as Thomas over the past few years in a bid to curb what it claims is rampant music piracy.

Earlier this year, it launched a campaign under which it allows individuals it identifies as having pirated music to settle claims against them at a reduced rate. In the past few months, it has sent out thousands of letters to individuals offering the presuit settlement option, which individuals can settle online if they choose.

Just last month, the RIAA sent out 403 of its prelitigation letters to 22 universities nationwide with instructions to forward the letters to the owners of specific IP addresses linked to illegal music downloads. The universities included Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, MIT, Purdue University and Arizona State University.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jaikumar Vijayan

Computerworld
Show Comments

Cool Tech

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?