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In Round 2, Jammie Thomas Jury Awards RIAA $1,920,000

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the there-go-some-hearts-and-minds dept.

The Courts 793

NewYorkCountryLawyer writes "Well the price went up from $9250 per song file to $80,000 per song file, as the jury awarded the RIAA statutory damages of $1,920,000.00 for infringement of 24 MP3s, in Capitol Records v. Thomas-Rasset. In this trial, although the defendant had an expert witness of her own, she never called him to testify, and her attorneys never challenged the technical evidence offered by the RIAA's MediaSentry and Doug Jacobson. Also, neither the special verdict form nor the jury instructions spelled out what the elements of a 'distribution' are, or what needed to be established by the plaintiffs in order to recover statutory — as opposed to actual — damages. No doubt there will now have to be a third trial, and no doubt the unreasonableness of the verdict will lend support to those arguing that the RIAA's statutory damages theory is unconstitutional." Update: 06/19 01:39 GMT by T : Lots more detail at Ars Technica, too.

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Well . . . (5, Insightful)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#28381921)

Some thoughts about this award:
  • Crooked, obscene, irrational, ineffective assistance of counsel, insane, tom foolery, crooked, baseless, should have used NYCL, undeserved, excessive, way excessive, legally raped, crooked, sanctions, more sanctions, terroristic actions, bungled, inept, crooked, bad dog bad, sit in the corner, stupid, payback, legal hos, dumb award, timeout, crooked, who ya gonna call, something is rotten in Denmark, spanked, what will you do when they come for you, retrial, bought jury, bad judge, all bad, and did I mention crooked?

Re:Well . . . (5, Funny)

winterphoenix (1246434) | more than 5 years ago | (#28381953)

Also sexy, but everything's sexy to me.

Justifying piracy (-1, Troll)

Overly Critical Guy (663429) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382071)

Fellow pirates,

I implore you to continue your campaign on Slashdot to make me feel less guilty. I know that not paying someone for their work is wrong, but if Slashdot posts enough articles bashing the RIAA/MPAA/copyright law/whatever, it's easier for me to accept what I'm doing emotionally by visualizing someone else as the bad guy. Once on the forefront of relevant IT news, Slashdot is now a lame repository of mainstream pseudoscience links and pro-piracy articles to appease a dwindling readership. I am overjoyed.

Even though the open source community is about giving back as much as it is taking, I'm just going to take. I'm a human leech with self-serving beliefs and an inability to empathize with content creators who are trying to make a living.

I don't believe John Carmack should be paid for his work. I'm going to sit on my ass while he spends years coding the next advanced 3D engine from id Software. When their game comes out, I'm going to pirate it without giving a second thought about paying John Carmack for his work. I'm just so used to pirating things now that I take it for granted. If anyone mentions John Carmack to make me feel guilty, I'll look for Slashdot articles that bolster my viewpoint, such as this one [slashdot.org] , amusingly posted in the Your Rights Online section even though none of my rights are being violated.

According to that study, it's okay to not pay people for their work because there's some vague hope that they'll make up the difference in income through "concerts and speaking tours." Artists are now forced to take time out of doing what they want to do. John Carmack must stop programming in order to make money from programming. It's genius. The study does exactly what I need it to--make me feel less guilty when I pirate. We've managed to stretch the truth so far that we're actually telling ourselves that we're helping artists by not paying them for their work. Excellent job.

I look forward to Slashdot telling me everyday who the bad guys are. Even though Slashdot has sued websites in the past for copyright infringement, and they've pretended to care about plagiarism [slashdot.org] , we're supposed to go along with Slashdot's anti-copyright agenda. I'm okay with that hypocrisy because it serves me. It makes me feel less guilty when I pirate something. Remember, I'm not the bad guy--the RIAA/MPAA/whatever is. That makes it okay for me to not pay people for their work.

EULAs and copyright licenses are wrong, yet the GPL is good. Piracy isn't theft, yet GPL violations are referred to as "stolen GPL code." I accept all of these double-standards because it serves me. I pretend not to notice when someone points out that the GPL relies on copyright law, and if I want to get rid of copyright, my beloved open source code will no longer be protected by the GPL. I don't care, because I'm too busy concerning myself with what I want for free, not about the consequences. I want to get rid of copyrights because I've been told that copyrights are the bad guy, and they are an obstacle to my rampant piracy.

Fellow pirates, let us continue our selfish leeching. Let us paint others as the bad guys to absolve us of our emotional guilt. Our goal is to convince people that piracy is something the good guys are doing in a fight with the evil corporations. Making money is wrong, even though Slashdot displays ads, and it cost me money to buy the computer I'm using to pirate stuff.

Yours truly,
A fellow Slashbot

Re:Justifying piracy (-1, Flamebait)

gringofrijolero (1489395) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382179)

Why is this troll crap getting modded up? He must be using sockpuppet accounts to do it.

Re:Justifying piracy (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382337)

Because it's a valid perspective? I don't agree with it -- John Carmack already gets paid enough for his work to keep doing it (even with piracy possibly sapping the numbers), and for being accused of downloading a couple CDs worth of songs this woman's now on the hook for enough money to record, publish and promote two platinum-level albums -- but if you're trying to figure out the jury this perspective is probably where you should start.

Re:Justifying piracy (0, Troll)

N1AK (864906) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382403)

Because although it's controversial it's also a valid point. It gets pretty pathetic watching some of the circle jerks that go on while people justify piracy on Slashdot.

Re:Justifying piracy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382213)

I see what you did there...

Re:Justifying piracy (5, Insightful)

lupis42 (1048492) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382269)

Artists are now forced to take time out of doing what they want to do.

Just like the rest of us who work for a living?

Re:Justifying piracy (5, Interesting)

Daneurysm (732825) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382331)

...and I might agree with most of what you say if the content-creators (the Artists, not their representatives) were seeing this money directly.

As a recording and performing musician who is both excited by the limitless distribution and disgusted with their treatment of artists I find you personally offensive. Furthermore I also find you to be nothing more than a rhetoric spewing fool of the lowest order. I hope you choke on those party lines you parrot off mindlessly.

GTFO, troll.

Re:Justifying piracy (5, Insightful)

skeptical_monster (1436977) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382499)

Didn't the artists CHOOSE to make these arrangements? If they had a hope in hell of making money on their own selling their recording on the internet without their stuff getting stolen, don't you think they would? So you are some kind of moralizing god that can tell the Artists how to run their affairs? if the money is going through a 3rd party, then it is OK to steal it, but if it goes directly to the Artist, better to pay them? I bet most people check carefully to see where their money would go before they decide to steal content, right? Let's look at a quote from a REAL artist, the fabulous guitarist Andy McKee, posting on piratebay: âoeYeah thanks a lot for uploading! It's not like I need to make a living with my music or anything. 8,676 thieves. If you really appreciate what I am doing, buy my CD legitimately so I can continue to compose music rather than work at K-Mart. I'm not Metallica. I don't have hundreds of thousands of dollars, much less millions.â So even though he is signed with Candyrat, it sounds a little like he would prefer that you BUY his music, doesn't it? Have you ever tried to make a living by driving around the country doing shows? It is, after a short time, soul sucking and demeaning. But that is the only way even a great artist with fairly broad appeal can make a living in this day and age, because of morons like you.

Re:Justifying piracy (0, Troll)

skeptical_monster (1436977) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382371)

Wish I had some mod points. Great post, right on. The bias on here is absolutely amazing. Thanks.

Re:Justifying piracy (5, Funny)

taucross (1330311) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382387)

Wow, you feel guilt? Girls feel guilt. Pirates don't feel guilt. We feel rum. And freeeeeeeee yaaarr

Re:Well . . . (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382247)

and did I mention crooked?

Geez, I almost choked on my rattatoie.

Re:Well . . . (1)

TinFoilMan (1371973) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382299)

You talkin' 'bout rigatoni?

Get it?

Rig - a - tony

Re:Well . . . (5, Insightful)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382267)

My thoughts about this award is that it makes it quite clear that the average person posting on slashdot does not know anything about law. If you read slashdot, you'd think that there would have been no possibility of RIAA winning because they are incompetent idiots without a clue.

Apparently not.

Note to self: don't depend on /. for legal news.

Re:Well . . .Here's How (4, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382459)

no possibility of RIAA winning because they are incompetent idiots without a clue.

All they had to do was find 12 citizens just like themselves.

Wrong-o (2, Interesting)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382479)

Actually you can notice that the actual lawyers here like NYCL never, ever say things like "... couldn't possibly win". That's probably because they're quite familiar with the fact that the legal system often coughs up ridiculous outcomes (in their eyes).

In my eyes, these outcomes just show that even judges often don't actually understand what the law says. And juries for sure don't. It will be interesting to see if this decision will be thrown out again.

Re:Well . . . (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382501)

I think it's fairly clear she was guilty. There was some doubt, but I'm not surprised she was found guilty at all.

I am surprised at the amount. I figured it would be reduced to be more reasonable. My big problem with all this is the damages. $18,000 per song is 900 CD sales per song at $20 a CD.

For simple infingement (not intentional theft) I could see $100 a song, or $250 a song. But $18,000 is ludicrous.

I was hoping the damages would be overturned as bankruptingly high and unconstitutional. I was hoping we'd get a precedent of vague reasonableness in this kind of thing.

Nope.

But the guilty verdict? Unsurprising.

Pirates (2, Interesting)

arizwebfoot (1228544) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382329)

All the RIAA did was cloud the identity of who the real pirates in this case was.

No doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28381925)

Third time's a charm.

unreasonableness? (5, Funny)

SoupGuru (723634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28381951)

$1.92M for 24 songs is unreasonable? What makes you say that?

Re:unreasonableness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28381997)

He should be thankful they didn't send him to prison for 20 years too.

Re:unreasonableness? (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382069)

The fact she owes RIAA $1.92M is exactly why going to prison would be an advantage. Slack all day and get free food.

Now she has to work her ass off to feed RIAA and eat peanuts.

Re:unreasonableness? (1, Interesting)

mhenley (542737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382157)

Why work? Lay around on a street corner and let welfare take care of the kids..

Re:unreasonableness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382285)

rtfa the riaa will most likely not pursue payment.

Could someone explain this to me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382295)

Seriously, I thought charges were supposed to be DECREASED whenever appeals are made. Is this court case that screwed up that appealing your case gets you an even harsher punishment?

Re:Could someone explain this to me? (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382423)

It wasn't an appeal, it was a retrial.

Re:unreasonableness? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382321)

RIAA: Problem Thomas?

Re:unreasonableness? (1)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382415)

Hope those songs were on a gold or platinum record.

What are the lawyers thinking? (4, Interesting)

guruevi (827432) | more than 5 years ago | (#28381959)

I'm starting to believe this lady was paid off by the RIAA to set an example by letting it go through the justice system with a bad defense and keep pushing their luck for the amounts awarded and setting precedents. In the back room she just gets paid everything back in double.

Really, how difficult is it to punch through the RIAA's statements? The average helpdesk technician would punch holes in their statements if called as an 'expert witness'. I'm really starting to doubt the value of lawyers in these type of cases. The Chewbacca defense might even stand.

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (4, Funny)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28381987)

haha.. never assign to malice that which can be adequately explained by incompetence.

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382439)

One of my personal favorite sayings :)

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (1)

mkiwi (585287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382043)

For the amount of money she'll owe she could have hired someone insanely good many times over. I'm not putting on my tinfoil hat yet, but this legal ineptitude is rather suspicious.

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (2, Insightful)

Xistenz99 (1395377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382057)

At least from what I gathered from the article is that basically the defense was incompetent, might as well pleaded out of court because the damages are absolutely ridiculous. I can say the defense was incompetent because they can't even convince a jury that 24 songs aren't worth less than 1.9 million. Although the jury makes me sad as well. Trials like this really scare me because the punishment doesn't even come close to the crime.

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (5, Informative)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382233)

because the punishment doesn't even come close to the crime.

There's that word again. There was no crime. There is no crime.

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (3, Insightful)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382067)

I recall in the previous stories on this case, everyone kept say "Slam Dunk!". I thought that the defense lawyers where supposed to be a "crack team" and yet from the Slashdot write-up, it seems the defense left much to be desired. What happened?

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (5, Interesting)

davmoo (63521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382229)

The lawyers, no matter how good, were up against one major obstacle during both trials. And that obstacle is that the evidence overwhelmingly said she was guilty of what they were accusing her of.

I don't like the RIAA either. And I also think this award is even more silly than the last one. But that makes two juries now that have found this twit guilty. Its time for her to fess up, quit trying to play the victim, and settle for a few thousand dollars.

And if the intarwebs community wants to be taken seriously in their fight for reasonable copyright laws, they need to find a better case to rally around. One where the accused person really is innocent. Continuing to support Jammie Thomas-Whateveritis only makes us look like stupid pirates.

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (1)

n30na (1525807) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382367)

More like a few thousand dollars. It only seems reasonable the the amount one is forced to pay is based on the market cost of the pirtaed media (albums, whatever), instead of some batshit insane figure. Even 3-4x the cost of the songs would be arguable reasonable.

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (5, Interesting)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382075)

I'm starting to believe this lady was paid off by the RIAA to set an example by letting it go through the justice system with a bad defense and keep pushing their luck for the amounts awarded and setting precedents. In the back room she just gets paid everything back in double. Really, how difficult is it to punch through the RIAA's statements? The average helpdesk technician would punch holes in their statements if called as an 'expert witness'. I'm really starting to doubt the value of lawyers in these type of cases. The Chewbacca defense might even stand.

While it's difficult to second guess the decisions a trial lawyer makes, it is hard for me to understand why defendant's lawyers gave the plaintiffs a free pass on the MediaSentry/Jacobson nonsense, and didn't even call their own expert. It is likewise difficult to understand why the jurors weren't instructed as to what the plaintiffs had to prove in order to establish a "distribution", or why it was assumed that they were entitled to recover statutory damages (as opposed to actual damages) at all, there having been no questions or instructions relating to the essential elements of that.

But I should point out that this outsized verdict (a) makes it inevitable that the verdict will be set aside, and (b) cripples the RIAA's attempts to justify their statutory damages theory as against constitutional attack. Had the jury awarded $50,000 or $60,000 the RIAA would have more of a chance to hold on to the verdict, and would have had a less embarrassing precedent to try to defend in other cases.

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (1)

sxltrex (198448) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382421)

Is it possible that the defense threw the case knowing that their client was guilty but also knowing that they had a better chance of appealing on the constitutionality of the award?

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382469)

Could this then be a ploy by the court to force it to higher courts of justice in order to make a precedent that will stick? Would sure make future cases much easier if there was a supreme court ruling, either one way or the other.

Re:What are the lawyers thinking? (1)

Barny (103770) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382505)

Sorry to reply to my own post, but maybe also a ploy by her defense, they would know that no matter who won this case, it would be appealed, and this kind of verdict really does make this case look a bit of a mockery, even to my non-American eyes.

Why oh why didn't she settle? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28381969)

She should have settled at any point during this whole mess. In fact, the RIAA's spokesperson gave this comment right after the verdict was read today. "Since day one we have been willing to settle this case... and we remain willing to do so." That seems pretty reasonable.

The damages are enormous, but the legal fees that the RIAA has amassed need to be recouped in some fashion. Jammie was stupid to think that the damages would go down. I've been following the case, and she has been caught lying several times.

Everyone likes to dogpile on the RIAA, but they are only defending the rights that the law has provided them. They didn't suggest any fine; the jurors decided on it by themselves. You can argue till the cows come home about whether what she did should be a crime, but it's the law and given the facts in the case, the burden of proof in civil trials (it only has to be more likely that she did it than not), and the facts of the case; a verdict of liable was the only reasonable conclusion. I'm disappointed in her counsel; trying to make a statement on copyright law and the shenanigans was irresponsible. Kiwi did a horrible disservice to her.

Moral of the story: don't break the law, and if you do, try to avoid lawyers, they are very expensive. It was foolish to reject the initial $5000 settlement. Any lawyer could have looked at the facts of the case and come to the conclusion that she didn't have sufficient evidence to prove her innocence, which is very important in civil trials.

Thank God she didn't (1, Interesting)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382265)

> Any lawyer could have looked at the facts of the case and come to the
> conclusion that she didn't have sufficient evidence to prove her innocence

Ah, so in other words, society should let large corporations extort money from the public because, actually, it is hard for an average citizen to prove his innocence given any kind of evidence of wrongdoing. This is why, in my opinion, in criminal cases the trial is supposed to start out biased in the defendant's favor ("innocent until proven guilty", "beyond a reasonable doubt").

I prefer that our justice system actually serve, well, justice!

I hope that the third time around, either she gets off with a really small penalty, or that the absolute maximum penalty is awarded against her. In the second case, for all practical purposes, the exact sum won't greatly matter in how this affair affects her life, and the staggering amount should either start a media blitz over how ridiculous the state of copyright law has become, or at least some kind of reaction in the legal system. Or perhaps people will stop being interested in RIAA's clients product, since having it on your computer could end up becoming evidence of wrongdoing, even if it's just being shared out by your friendly bot-net controller rather than you (or your neighbor via your wireless router, or whatever)....

Re:Why oh why didn't she settle? (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382283)

The damages are enormous, but the legal fees that the RIAA has amassed need to be recouped in some fashion.

The expenses can be recouped in the following manner: the RIAA pays the legal expenses they incurred. If we get into a fender bender, and I sue you for damages, that's okay. If I spend 3 million on my legal team over it, that's me spending money foolishly. You shouldn't have to pay for it.

I did say should... applying logic or "should" statements to legal proceedings is it's own type of illogical, I know...

Everyone likes to dogpile on the RIAA, but they are only defending the rights that the law has provided them.

To absurd degrees considering how trivial an offense it was. That's what makes them bad guys.

Moral of the story: don't break the law, and if you do, try to avoid lawyers, they are very expensive. It was foolish to reject the initial $5000 settlement. Any lawyer could have looked at the facts of the case and come to the conclusion that she didn't have sufficient evidence to prove her innocence, which is very important in civil trials.

I wouldn't call standing up to a bully "foolish" exactly.

Oh, and you got the moral wrong (3, Insightful)

Mathinker (909784) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382339)

> Moral of the story: don't break the law

In my eyes the moral is: don't let large corporations twist the law into an distorted abomination....

The most ironic part of this whole mess is that the jury system was designed to exactly defend against this kind of abuse of the legal system, but because big government and big corporations have gotten so good at controlling the public's behavior, it is actually working out in reverse....

do you take (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28381989)

2 party out of state bad checks?

Why a new trail? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28381991)

Do they just keep having new trials whenever juries award supposedly crazy damages? Or do the damages just get lowered/reversed on appeal?

Why didn't the defendant call their expert witnesses?

Seems we get unreasonable vedicts every day without all of them causing a do-over.

For once I am simply (1, Insightful)

Daneurysm (732825) | more than 5 years ago | (#28381995)

speechless.

What happened to the "making available" argument? (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382003)

Something definitely doesn't sound right. Given that the making available argument was already shown to be bad, how can they still get her? And what the hell was the jury thinking?

Re:What happened to the "making available" argumen (1)

gtirloni (1531285) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382147)

I sell a mp3 for $2 and I'm damn sure there are 10 million people out there just dying to buy it, trust me on that one.

So far I only sold 10k mp3s so you must be stealing my loyal customer base that I was supposed to be selling to...

There, you owe me $19.9M. That simply. Can't argue here.

Just why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382023)

Just why is it, NYCL, that you're one of the very few voices crying out in the wilderness? Aren't all lawyers bound by oath and ethics to do the same thing you do? And just how many lawyers are there in the USA?

Where are they?

AC

Really?!?!?!? (1)

hurrikane (880965) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382029)

Absolutely unbelievable.... F!@# it...why not go for a full million per track...

Re:Really?!?!?!? (1)

bryansj (89051) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382123)

Because the maximum damages per track was $150,000. The minimum was $750.

Re:Really?!?!?!? (1)

smartr (1035324) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382313)

Right... but when you consider every sample is copyrighted, you could probably count each individual instrument and every 5 seconds or so... Going by that theory, you could probably say it's more like 2000 copyright infringements and $300 million. All you need to do now is find someone you don't like who has iTunes, install kazaa, and call the RIAA... 1 billion dollars!

Throwing on purpose (5, Interesting)

vivaoporto (1064484) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382045)

It looks like classic civil disobedience. Break am unjust law, get punished in the maximum extent possible and appeal at a superior court, all the way to the Supreme.

That, or massive incompetence of her defense.

Re:Throwing on purpose (1)

mikelieman (35628) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382195)

Some from Column A, and some from Column B?

Re:Throwing on purpose (4, Interesting)

FWSquatch (1092051) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382221)

I'm voting Civil Disobedience on this one as well. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that 80,000 per song is excessive. After the first case was tossed, the judge even made a point of how ridiculous the first verdict's damages were and begged congress to do something about it. The jury wanted to send the message that she was guilty but wanted to add something to it that might help change the laws. Stealing music is wrong, but our copyright laws that set the damages are way out of whack!

1.92MegaBucks? It could be million times that (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382073)

This is obviously unreasonable, I don't understand how a dozen juries find that it is not absolutely insane to order the defendant to pay that amount.

However from point of view of RIAA it is obviously necessary to make the fines so obscene, that from now on every single person charged just settles for the few grand (what is it, 5K nowadays?)

In any case, at this point it could be a bajjjillion dollars (with a pinky near near the corner of a mouth), there is no way that the defendant can ever pay this out, so why not add another 20 zeros at the end of the fine? Shit, they could argue that taxes from this fine alone will fix the US economy for the next 50 years!

Can they do anything else (2, Interesting)

MadHakish (675408) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382077)

Now that they've virtually guaranteed her bankruptcy, how else could they possibly punish her? Couldn't she just go on a sharing spree and drum up attention about it? Seems that once you ruin a person, they have no more motivation to do what you want as you've already leveled the most extreme punishment.

Re:Can they do anything else (2, Insightful)

The_Wilschon (782534) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382309)

Contempt of court carries jail time.

Re:Can they do anything else (1)

MadHakish (675408) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382349)

ianal, but is re-violating considered contempt? I guess I'm not sure how that would work, because wouldn't the court have to order her not to use kazaa/filesharing programs, and then she'd have to violate that order or is that all implied due to the nature of the charge?

Re:Can they do anything else (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382493)

Time for Jammie to make a disk image of a TB drive FULL of mp3's and make sure as many people as possible could get access to it. Spite is the last refuge for misappropriated justice.

You know... (1)

pckl300 (1525891) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382081)

CDs are $10 at Wal-Mart...

Re:You know... (1)

JobyOne (1578377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382141)

Did she steal 190,000 CDs worth of music? I doubt it.

Re:You know... (1)

SoCalChris (573049) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382189)

I wonder what her punishment would have been for being convicted of stealing 2-3 cds from WalMart. Certainly not a lifetime of debt and court cases spanning out over years.

Seriously? (0)

joshtheitguy (1205998) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382099)

Where are they finding these jurors at? Where is the constitution on this one? I just recently served as a juror and I was told to look at the evidence and testimony presented then come to a conclusion based on this without bias. How could anyone come to a verdict like this given the evidence from both sides? Do these people not realize at any time they could be a victim just as the defendant, open Wi-Fi anyone? This has to be a blatant violation of her 8th Amendment rights, this is wrong on so many levels it makes my head hurt.

Re:Seriously? (3, Insightful)

FishWithAHammer (957772) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382341)

I don't much care for the RIAA, but everything brought in as evidence was against her, and she couldn't come up with shit-all that might even bring a shred of reasonable doubt (let alone the much greater amount that they'd need to win a civil case).

If you actually think she's innocent, you're out of your mind. She did it. Is the punishment just? Hell, no. But I don't see how any intellectually honest person can take her defense as anything but the most pathetic thing around.

Re:Seriously? (5, Insightful)

NewYorkCountryLawyer (912032) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382457)

Where are they finding these jurors at? Where is the constitution on this one? I just recently served as a juror and I was told to look at the evidence and testimony presented then come to a conclusion based on this without bias. How could anyone come to a verdict like this given the evidence from both sides? Do these people not realize at any time they could be a victim just as the defendant, open Wi-Fi anyone? This has to be a blatant violation of her 8th Amendment rights, this is wrong on so many levels it makes my head hurt.

On the bright side, sometimes when something so stupid happens, it forces a change in the law. And certainly, this verdict (a) will itself be set aside, and (b) gives added ammunition to the lawyers like myself who are arguing that the RIAA's statutory damages theory is unconstitutional.

Run for the hills! (2, Funny)

uvsc_wolverine (692513) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382129)

If we end up with a string of verdicts like this I have two things to say:

1. I, for one, welcome our new RIAA overlords

2. I think we finally have step 3!

1. Produce easily copied item no one wants to pay for
2. Let people get used to getting it for free
3. Sue your customers for millions of dollars
4. Profit!

Re:Run for the hills! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382239)

You mean phase 2.

Phase 1: Collect underpants
Phase 2: ???????
Phase 3: Profit!

Let's think about this (5, Insightful)

JobyOne (1578377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382131)

According to some wikipedia article the median American individual makes about $32,000/year (never mind the fact that women make $27K). Multiply that by a career lifespan of 45 years and you get $1.4 million.

They have just judged that she should pay 1/3 more than a typical American will make in their life.

What's wrong with this picture? Clearly she would have never spent that much on music...

Re:Let's think about this (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382203)

It brings another question to my mind: Suppose she's forced to pay this. It will ruin her life. With her life in ruins and with no hope of recovery, what would stop her from using the last of her money to buy a gun, some bullets, and a map of RIAA execs' houses?

Re:Let's think about this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382323)

It's not the money that she would have spent, it will be more from the money that others would have spent rather than downloading from her. Not that I think many of those who were downloading from her would have bought if she hadn't been sharing, but that's the only possible way the fine makes sense.

Posting anon because I've moderated.

Re:Let's think about this (1)

McBeer (714119) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382497)

Clearly she would have never spent that much on music...

I think the premise behind the damages is not just what she downloaded but the amount she distributed. If she seeded a lot of files, the amount uploaded would quickly dwarf whatever she personally downloaded. The real damage is likely X where (The retail value of the songs she downloaded) < X < (The retail value of the songs she distributed). Not everybody she shared with would have bought the song if piracy weren't an option, but a lot would have. The RIAA assumes X = (The retail value of the songs she distributed) whereas the people here on slashdot seem to assume X = (The retail value of the songs she downloaded). Both of these assumptions are rediculous.

Something has gone seriously wrong when... (5, Interesting)

BlueKitties (1541613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382139)

Any goon sitting at a computer can cause millions of dollars in damages at the drop of a hat. The problem is that people have assigned value to information. Personally, while this may seem radical, I personally believe that distributing information should be entirely legal in any situation except where someone is personally threatened (say, giving out SSNs and Bank Account numbers.) This would instantly destroy a lot of business, but the matter of the fact is that these businesses should have never existed in the first place. If companies could charge people for using mathematical constants or specific words, we would be in the same situation. It is inheritly wrong to charge people for information. Piracy is not theft, it never has been and never will be -- piracy is a name given to steal inherit immutable social rights.

Re:Something has gone seriously wrong when... (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382293)

piracy is a name given to steal inherit immutable social rights.

Like the right to not be killed and pillaged on the high seas?

Making an anti-copyright rant without even bothering to use non-inflammatory terminology is a pretty lame troll.

Please troll better.
 

She made it easy for them (5, Interesting)

Froobly (206960) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382145)

While it seems absolutely insane that an individual can be sued for so much for something so inconsequential, I have to say that she really made it easy to side with the RIAA.

If it weren't for her destruction of evidence and blatant perjury, the courts might be likely to have some sympathy for her. Instead, she insulted the courts in a way that made Hans Reiser look well grounded. It was obvious to anyone following the trial that she was the one sharing the files, and while she didn't need to volunteer that information necessarily, the deliberate obfuscation (returned hard drives, etc.) put her on the wrong side of the line.

I think this is a terrible precedent that was set, but really, I'm not surprised. The RIAA, of course, will never see their money, but then Jammie Thomas will never own a material possession again, either, so I guess it's even.

Re:She made it easy for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382315)

EVEN?! RIAA lost a possible sale of a couple CD, Jammie loses everything forever and you call it even?

A fair punishment would be a fine of few bucks top. (plus cost of the proceedings maybe...).

P.S. Courts are not supposed to judge based on 'sympathy' but on the law, last time I checked.

Re:She made it easy for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382389)

Why? She can just file for bankruptcy and start fresh. There's no debtors prison anymore, you know?

A Little Perspective (4, Informative)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382183)

Assuming a price of $15 per album, the defendant could have stolen 128,000 CDs and resold them and it would have been less damage than what they are collecting for two dozen songs.

Re:A Little Perspective (1)

Spacehog320 (985368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382291)

Even give that the recording industry would have still seen no real damages if you are talking physical CDs. The retail outlets buy them outright and then mark them up and resell them. So she could have technically taken as many as she wanted from a store still not hurt the RIAA.

Trial 3 (0)

Steve1952 (651150) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382193)

Pinky in mouth... We award the plaintiffs one Trillion dollars!

Not actually too far off. A case could be made for $250 million dollars (one quarter trillion dollars), based on 1,700 songs available, and $150,000 damages per song.

Re:Trial 3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382375)

I believe you meant to type "(one quarter of one thousandth of one trillion dollars)".

Re:Trial 3 (1)

DimmO (1179765) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382465)

$250 million dollars (one quarter trillion dollars)...

you're out by a factor of 1000 there. :)

Come on people (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382225)

She lied about her hard drive, thinking it would get her off. I don't like the RIAA, but she deserved this.

Re:Come on people (5, Insightful)

Reason58 (775044) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382287)

She lied about her hard drive, thinking it would get her off. I don't like the RIAA, but she deserved this.

Um, no. For lying under oath she deserves to face perjury charges, not have her punishment be magnified 1000 times.

$2M? (4, Interesting)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382243)

$2M for 24 songs? Sounds like jury tampering.

Re:$2M? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28382425)

I would tend to suspect a much more innocent and common scenario: the jury pool lacking a single person who is both reasonable and familiar with the involved issues. Most American jurors are more than willing to award stupidly high amounts of money if the judge, the law, or another -- better -- juror doesn't stop them.

$80,000 is awesome (5, Funny)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382249)

So all I have to do is, twice a year write an awful song, then get someone to put it up on a torrent and that's worth $160,000 right? That's a freaking awesome alternate reality! I can live like a king for playing guitar badly a couple of times a year!

By that kind of accounting, I'm worth billions. Boat salesmen will knock. Bikini clad women will swoon. I can have any car I like!

Tell the truth now, you're just trying to outdo the British, aren't you? They only used to send their convicts to Australia for a dozen years for stealing a loaf of bread. You'd ruin people's whole lives over copying a song.

Conspiracy theory (0, Troll)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382251)

1.9M is so suspiciously close to 2M that a potential previous conversation perfectly could well has been "I pay you 2M if you don't defend yourself, and return only 1.9M... you can keep the change". You know, like using a bait trial to set a precedent.

24 songs is about 2 CDs? (2, Interesting)

JobyOne (1578377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382319)

Let's assume 24 songs is about 2 CDs worth of music. What would happen if I stole 2 CDs from Wal-Mart? I'd get a slap on the wrist misdemeanor, and no more than a $1,000 fine. Probably I would get a whole lot less than that.

How is stealing that same content digitally somehow worse? If anything I can think of a few ways it's less harmful than shoplifting...

Re:24 songs is about 2 CDs? (1)

Spacehog320 (985368) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382365)

You would probably just get banned from wal-mart for life. Someone near me attempted to lift like $100 in World of Warcraft time cards and got caught, they just told him to get off the property and banned him for life from shopping at Wal-Mart.

Love the article arrangement today... (1)

hjorhrafn (938105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382325)

But you know, "campaigns can change hearts and minds... If you do them right you can make a material impact on people's behaviour.'" Well, here's a campaign killer.

A juror's dilemma (1, Troll)

clemenstimpler (1472471) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382361)

From the jury instruction: "The law demands of you a just verdict, unaffected by anything except the evidence, your common sense, and the law as I give it to you." And what, if the law as given by the judge obliterates common sense?

Evolution at work (1)

macraig (621737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382407)

It's always the stupid and careless pirates that get caught in the harbor. It's natural evolution at work, a culling of the weak and unfit from the pirate fleet. Feel sad if you must for Thomas, but also feel comfort that evolution has done its job: the pirates that remain are the cream of the crop. They will bear an even more naturally skilled crew to man the next fleet of sloops and schooners.

right verdict, wrong result (5, Insightful)

eddeye (85134) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382435)

As a lawyer, I'm not surprised by this outcome. I admit to not closely following this case. But from what I've read, her defense arguments were really weak. Oddly enough, Ars Technica says it best:

A vigorous defense from Kiwi Camara and Joe Sibley was not enough to sway the jury, which had only to find that a preponderance of the evidence pointed to Thomas-Rasset. The evidence clearly pointed to her machine, even correctly identifying the MAC address of both her cable modem and her computer's Ethernet port. When combined with the facts about her hard drive replacement (and her failure to disclose those facts to the investigators), her "tereastarr" username, and the new theories that she offered yesterday for the first time in more than three years, jurors clearly remained unconvinced by her protestations of innocence. ...

The case is a reminder that in civil trials, simply raising some doubt about liability is not enough; lawyers need to raise lots of doubt to win the case, and Camara and Sibley were unable to do so here.

I really can't emphasize that last part enough. Winning a civil trial isn't about being "right" in any objective sense. It's about convincing normal people. If your explanations (technical or otherwise) go over their heads or seem implausible, you will lose. If the jury senses any sort of deception or dishonesty, you will lose. Sometimes if they just plain don't like you, you will lose. Clearly erroneous results can get overturned on appeal, but may cases are close enough calls that an appeal won't help.

On the facts above, I'd have found her liable too. It was clearly her computer with a username she commonly used. That creates a reasonable inference that she used Kazaa on it. While there are many ways for her to rebut this presumption, the flimsy conjecture offered doesn't cut it. Especially if she seemed less than forthright.

That said, the damages award is completely insane. I'd have given nominal damages, enough to hurt but not crippling (on the order of $100-500 per song - yes, below the statutory minimum of $750). It will get reduced on appeal, but not to that level. Maybe something on the order of a few thousand per song. My guess is that the jury really disliked her dishonesty and smacked her for it with huge damages.

I won't criticize her lawyers since I don't know all the details. Maybe these were the best arguments they had. Maybe their client chose to use this defense against their recommendations. Undoubtedly the news reports distorted the story. Whatever the case, the defense was really weak. This verdict was predictable.

Absolutely Nuts (4, Insightful)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382443)

No distribution was ever shown. The RIAA Plaintiffs even said that they wouldn't show it because it's impossible to show. THIS IS INSANE!!!

I, for one, cannot wait to see the entire music industry implode in favor of artists who record at home with the low-priced equipment available, and who market through cooperatives over the Internet. Let Big Music Die Now Please!

The bright side (1)

xactuary (746078) | more than 5 years ago | (#28382471)

If they take the money and start producing music that doesn't suck, then this may actually work out OK for everyone.
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