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Juror From RIAA Trial Speaks

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the tell-us-what-you-really-think dept.

Music 918

Damon Tog notes a Wired blog posting featuring quotes from a juror who took part in the recent RIAA trial. Some excerpts: "She should have settled out of court for a few thousand dollars... Spoofing? We're thinking, "Oh my God, you got to be kidding."... She lied. There was no defense. Her defense sucked... I think she thought a jury from Duluth would be naive. We're not that stupid up here. I don't know what the f**k she was thinking, to tell you the truth."

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So did the jury ... (5, Funny)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920441)

Her defense sucked...
Apparently, so did the jury...

Re:So did the jury ... (4, Insightful)

tgd (2822) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920473)

Why? The case was cut n dry, she broke the law and she lost.

The jury's job is to determine if she broke the law, not determine if the law makes sense.

the fine didn't fit the crime (5, Insightful)

schwaang (667808) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920637)

The jury decided the penalty, and it's plain ridiculous.

Let's assume we agree that the defendant was, as this juror said, an obvious liar, and guilty on all counts.
Should she really lose her house or retirement savings over this?

I'm personally against stealing copyrighted music. But this penalty is waaaaay out of proportion to the crime, IMHO.

Re:So did the jury ... (4, Insightful)

voidptr (609) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920645)

Wrong [wikipedia.org] . Half the point of having a jury of peers instead of government officials is to add another check to the system if the jury feels the law itself is a just one.

Re:So did the jury ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920767)

Yeah, but they don't tell you that.. and just try to get on a jury with that attitude. Jury nullification is a joke and always has been, there is no such thing as jury nullification.

Re:So did the jury ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920851)

Hardly takes a genius to figure out why they didn't bother to exercise that right with this piece of trash. Somehow I don't think stealing music and lying about is one of the top ten issues threatening the health and liberty of the American people.

Re:So did the jury ... (5, Informative)

MistaE (776169) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920939)

Sorry, but Jury Nullification, while having deeply entrenched common law roots, is not as cut and dry as you may think it is. Many court cases, including some from notable power courts such as the Supreme Court of California have held that Jury Nullification is "contrary to [the court's] ideal of justice of equal justice for all and permits both the prosecution's case and the defendant's fate to depend upon the whims of a particular jury, rather than upon the equal application of settled rules of law." People v. Williams (2001) 25 Cal.4th 441, 463

Also, just from browsing the Wiki article you linked there are many examples of court cases in which Jury Nullification has either been criticized or not been held to be a viable option for juries. See U.S. v. Krzyske 836 F.2d 1013, 1021 (Upholding on appeal a judge's answer to a juror that jury nullification "didn't exist") and U.S. v. Thomas 116 F.3d 606 (2d Cir. 1997) (holding that jurors can be removed if there is evidence that they are planning on utilizing jury nullification)

Now, I'm in no way advocating the removal of the concept of jury nullification from our system, but I'm simply stating that to just throw out such a blanket action as the answer to this question doesn't help much because the action itself is under attack by significant powers in the legal realm. At least IMO, it seems like it would make much more sense to focus on electing a decent legislative body to reject these rules, rather than holding out for jury nullification that really only works as a one shot deal to begin with.

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

Dutchy Wutchy (547108) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920991)

When I was on jury duty (case settled soon after it began), I inquired about this. It turns out that the defense/prosecution tends to use nullification as a bargaining chip (if the defense doesn't tell the jury, the prosecution will not do X[I forget exactly what]). The defense would have to have some pretty strong feelings to base a case largely on the hope of jury nullification; as such, we tend not to hear that much about it.

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

G Fab (1142219) | more than 6 years ago | (#20921011)

Jury Nullification?

For this? Jury nullification is for shams. She broke the law, and the penalty is just money. I think it's ridiculous that she pay this much money (and she won't), but just because a jury can go against the law doesn't mean that's half the purpose of a jury.

Re:So did the jury ... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920657)

Contrary to what the judge and lawyers would have you believe, it is the jury's job to decide if the law makes sense. Read up on jury nullification.

Re:So did the jury ... (2, Insightful)

The Empiricist (854346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920789)

Jury nullification is a consequence of the constitutional ban on double-jeopardy. This ban was put in place to protect citizens from oppressive practices by the government in the realm of criminal law. It was not designed specifically to enable juries to ignore the law.

In a civil trial (such as this one), the judge can set aside the jury's verdict if the judge finds that the jury's findings are unreasonable. So even if the jury hates copyright law and wants to find for the defendant, the judge can still impose liability (especially since there is a $750 per work minimum for infringement, a minimum that the jury cannot ignore).

Re:So did the jury ... (5, Insightful)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920669)

she broke the law and she lost.
We don't actually know that yet. She did appeal the case.

The law says you can't distribute stuff when you don't hold the copyright.

Did she distribute?

She was convicted of distribution. Actually, she was also convicted to pay more than 9000$ for each song she allegedly distributed. But there wasn't a shred of evidence that she distributed anything.

For that simple reason, she should not have been convicted.

Don't get me wrong here. I am no pirate. I fact I am probably one of the few rare examples of people who don't have a single illegal MP3 file or movie. I also believe that pirates should be punished.

But the evidence must be present. No matter how much I dislike pirates, ensuring a fair trial (with appropriate evidence) is far more important that collecting money for the greedy "content industry".

- Jesper

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920707)

The jury's job is to determine if she broke the law
I totally agree.

Did she break the law? If so, was there evidence presented to support that assumption?

Oh, well, she did appeal the case. Let's see what happens in the next trial. Hopefully she will get a better lawyer AND a better jury :-)

- Jesper

Re:So did the jury ... (5, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920773)

Appeals aren't decided by juries. In fact, they are almost entirely to decide legal questions and procedural questions; an appeals court more or less doesn't redecide a jury's finding of fact.

If the appeals court decides, for instance, that the trial judge was wrong in the instructions to the jury in a material way, the case could be retried, but the retrial itself isn't the appeal.

Re:So did the jury ... (0)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920839)

Good point. Don't have any mod-points today though ... sorry ... :-)

- Jesper

Re:So did the jury ... (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920909)

But in this case, as I understand things, there was a deliberate effort by the prosecution to mislead the judge and jury about the outcome of another critically relevant case in which it was decided that making available != distributing. Therefore, the finding of facts in this case may have been based on a fundamentally incorrect understanding of the law, and thus completely invalid.

Re:So did the jury ... (3, Informative)

lavalyn (649886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920749)

No, the jury's job is to determine if she broke the law, *and* determine if the law makes sense. There's this notion called Jury Nullification [wikipedia.org] that provides for juries to not convict despite violation of law.

Re:So did the jury ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920869)

Sure, if you follow the judge's instructions like a good little TOOL. Do you do everything you're told?

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

iocat (572367) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920485)

Regardless of the merits of the RIAA's case, if you try to insult the jury's intelligence and are clearly lying, they are going to nail you to the wall. No one likes have to sit on a jury and then be lied to.

I haven't examined the facts in the case, but the "spoofing" defense seems pretty thin if no wireless router was involved.

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

tfiedler (732589) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920489)

why do they suck, because they didn't buy this person's lame ass excuse?

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

SplatMan_DK (1035528) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920947)

why do they suck
Uhm... Because they convicted her to pay 200.000$ for sharing 24 files (more than 9000$ a piece) when there was not a shred of evidence they were ever downloaded by someone else?

I don't like pirates. Fine. And maybe this woman was a moron. Hell, maybe her defense lawyer was moron too. That does not change the fact that there was insufficient evidence in this particular case. It also does not change the fact that the punishment does not fit the crime. Honestly ... 200.000$ for 24 MP3 files???
In addition, I honestly can't understand why someone sits in a jury in a case regarding MP3 file sharing if he has never even used the internet (which he claims according to TFA).

- Jesper

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

joshuac (53492) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920499)

The job of the jury isn't to decide on the basis of a popularity contest; the decision is...did she break the law or not?

Add that her defense involved some pretty implausible lying (someone spoofed my address, duplicated my machine ID, and sucessfully transferred files with my spoofed address...) she IS pretty stupid.

I think the RIAA tactics are bad, and that they are holding over a business model from a dying era. But that doesn't make it my right to ignore their IP rights, even if their license sucks, is out of date, and they are killing their own industry in the process.

Re:So did the jury ... (5, Insightful)

mosch (204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920621)

The job of the jury isn't to decide on the basis of a popularity contest; the decision is...did she break the law or not?

They got to choose what her financial penalty was.

They purposefully picked an amount that had absolutely no relationship, whatsoever, to the financial damages that may have been incurred. This was not a matter of law. This was a bunch of citizens sitting in a room and purposefully deciding to ruin the life of somebody that they didn't like.

Re:So did the jury ... (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920663)

This was a bunch of citizens sitting in a room and purposefully deciding to ruin the life of somebody that they didn't like.

May I introduce you to the U.S. Congress?

Re:So did the jury ... (2, Insightful)

joshuac (53492) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920685)

This is true, the guilty/not guilty part is what I meant in the context of "popularity contest". Bald faced lies in front the jury on the other hand...they have plenty of leeway to decide what her punishment will be.

Re:So did the jury ... (5, Insightful)

mosch (204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920833)

The only thing this jury proved, IMO, is that people tend to abuse any power that is given them.

They were legally required to assign a penalty appropriate to the crime, but they did not do so. They ignored this obligation, choosing instead to "send a message" to a woman who they did not like.

They used the law as a weapon to destroy a person who offended them personally. They succeeded only in proving that feeble people, when given power, tend to abuse it, and that Duluth has plenty of feeble people.

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

mstahl (701501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920709)

The job of the jury isn't to decide on the basis of a popularity contest; the decision is...did she break the law or not?

But that's why we have juries of your peers in the US. If it were merely a question of the word of the law, then a judge would be much more qualified for the job, or a triumvirate of judges (like in other countries where this is the case). We don't have that here because it produces a more just system where the jury box is oftentimes the last thing in the way of exploitation of the law for vindictive purposes. I think a lot of people here and elsewhere would agree that though she was in violation of the law, the punishment here does not fit the crime. It's not the job of a jury to "send a message" either.

Re:So did the jury ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920715)

You're quite right, it doesn't make it right.

But what does make it right to ignore their IP rights is the fact that the RIAA and the industry they represent is guilty of systematically ripping off both artists and consumers. Never mind the fact that the concept of IP as applied to recorded music, is a crock of monkey shit.

It's high time we chased these money changers from the temple of art

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

Nephilium (684559) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920717)

The other job of a jury is to decide if a law is just...

Jury Nullification is something that's often overlooked...

Nephilium

Re:So did the jury ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920531)

Was the rest of the jury just as vulgar and infantile?

Re:So did the jury ... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920617)

Hopefully they didn't suck as much cock as that shithead.

Re:So did the jury ... (1, Troll)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920535)

Why? Because they convicted somebody based on the facts of the case? Sure, the law's brainless, but a jury's job is determine the facts of a case, not decide whether the law is fair.

Oops, here's comes somebody babbling about "the right to jury nullification". Doesn't exist, except in the overactive imaginations of people who also believe in the "civil flag".

Re:So did the jury ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20921013)

Um, actually the right to jury nullification does exist. Ask any lawyer. It arises out of the fact that an aquittal by the jury cannot be overridden, nor can they be asked to justify the reason for their decision. Those two facts give them the ability to decide on any criteria that they want.

What doesn't exist is any right to inform juries that they have the right to jury nullification. In fact most juries are told that they don't have that right, and an attempt by counsel to inform them otherwise can result in a mistrial. Likewise potential jurors can be removed for indicating that they would consider disregarding the judge's instructions for how to rule.

It is impossible to know how often this right is exercised given the fact that juries do not have to explain their decisions. There are many important historical cases where it was exercised. Juries are currently encouraged to not exercise the right. Many people in the legal profession like this state of affairs. And even if you don't like this state of affairs, judges are bound by a web of precedent saying that they have to maintain these rules.

Where the controversy comes from are from people who believe that the right to jury nullification is a pillar of our Constitution that needs to be maintained, not undermined. Admittedly, many of the people who believe this also believe that we all need to be armed against our government, and we should be on the lookout for black helicopters. However many fairly reasonable people also happen to believe that the right to jury nullification is important. I'd include myself in that number. And it certainly is easy to demonstrate that the right of jury nullification is the reason why jury nullification was put in the Constitution. (However one can then argue about whether the Founding Fathers were right to consider it important...)

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

Mr. Slippery (47854) | more than 6 years ago | (#20921017)

Oops, here's comes somebody babbling about "the right to jury nullification". Doesn't exist, except in the overactive imaginations of people who also believe in the "civil flag".

The right of juries to judge questions of both fact and of law is not just a legal precedent stretching back to colonial times and acknowledged in many court decisions, it is written into the state constitutions of Maryland and Indiana. [drugpolicy.org] .

Claiming that a principal written into decisions written by folks like John Jay and Oliver Wendel Holmes [slashdot.org] as well as state constitutions "doesn't exist", shows either your ignorance or your determination to ignore fact in pursuit of some poltical end.

You might think we'd be better off without it, you might think it's fine that jurors aren't told about it, and be within the bounds of legitimately debatable opinion. But when you insist that it "doesn't exist", you are simply in factual error.

(As for flags, I think you mean the "admiralty flag" bit [verizon.net] , which is of course paranoid nonsense. It's not as if politicians willing to disregard the Consitution (who certainly do exist) are going to feel obligated to play some bizarre game about accessorizing the flag.)

Re:So did the jury ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920581)

No, her defense was pretty weak. She also didn't help her case by turning over a fresh hard drive. Obviously the penalties are way out of whack, so you could fault the jury there, but from what I've seen she really didn't have much of a defense.

Re:So did the jury ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920649)

Summary of their comments: Women are stupid!

Re:So did the jury ... (1)

lysse (516445) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920753)

So it's true - jurors really are the people too stupid to find a way out of jury service...

(It's always amusing to hear ignorant hicks like Mr Hegg denounce the idea that they're ignorant hicks. When it gets expensive for some poor victim, though, it's not funny. "We wanted to send a message" - what, the message that juries in the boondocks will break you if they feel personally insulted by your case?)

PEBKAC (2, Funny)

mbarron (673170) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920483)

And to think this same person creates all the trouble tickets when their computer isn't plugged in.

I'd rather the judge flip a coin.

I call heads.

We're not stupid up here (5, Insightful)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920507)

Apparently you are lady, you put a judgement of 200K over a few songs.

She could have shoplifted the cds for a few hundred dollars in fines.

Re:We're not stupid up here (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920609)

She could have shoplifted the cds for a few hundred dollars in fines.
Except she was fined for distributing the songs on Kazaa, not simply possessing them.
Thats a totally different scenario.

Re:We're not stupid up here (1)

DavidShor (928926) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920803)

How many people could have possibly have downloaded from her?

She could have shoplifted a cd for each of them, and then some extra tracks, and still have come out ahead.

Re:We're not stupid up here (1)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920907)

The possible number was about 2 million. "...a screen shot repeatedly displayed to jurors during the three-day case showed that more than 2 million people were on Kazaa sharing hundreds of millions of songs on Feb. 21, 2005." It looks like the lawyers did their job. What about the facts are you not understanding?

Re:We're not stupid up here (1)

MrP- (45616) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920975)

So all 2 million users on the kazaa network in Feb of 2005 were downloading from her?

2 million people ... (1)

Augusto (12068) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920989)

... does not mean 2 million people downloading *her* songs.

The penalty was absurd, and frankly, I'm surprised there's anybody outside of the RIAA or that courtroom that would agree with it.

Re:We're not stupid up here (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920913)

She could have shoplifted a cd for each of them, and then some extra tracks, and still have come out ahead.
No, she would have ended up in the same boat as copyright infringement deals with distribution.

Re:We're not stupid up here (1)

glavenoid (636808) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920923)

She could have shoplifted the cds for a few hundred dollars in fines.
Except she was fined for distributing the songs on Kazaa, not simply possessing them.
Thats a totally different scenario.
Let this be a lesson to the new kids -- Better to shoplift a few CDs from the neighborhood music store than to download a few songs and accidentally make them available to others...

More than a preponderence of evidence (4, Insightful)

Paktu (1103861) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920519)

This really was an open and shut case. There was very little doubt the woman was guilty, that's why the RIAA didn't drop the case. I think her hope was that the jury would see a bunch of rich record labels going after some poor ignorant middle aged woman, and the jury would say "fuck you" to the labels. The only gripe I have with this was the size of the award- $10K per song is pretty stiff.

Re:More than a preponderence of evidence (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920569)

Guilty?

It wasn't a criminal trial. What are you talking about?

Re:More than a preponderence of evidence (1)

Paktu (1103861) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920605)

You're right, I should have said liable instead of guilty. But had this been a criminal trial (and the threshold had been beyond a reasonable doubt), I think the RIAA's case was so strong that they would have still won.

Re:More than a preponderence of evidence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920821)

$10K per song is pretty stiff.

Pretty stiff!? Exactly how many songs could you physically steal from a shop before you reached a $10K fine?

Sounds like a great jury (4, Interesting)

robinsonne (952701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920521)

From TFA: But Hegg said the jury in U.S. District Court in Duluth would have found her liable even if the plaintiffs had been required to establish that Kazaa users had actually downloaded the music.

"It would have been a lot harder to make the decision," he said. "Yes, we would have reached the same result."


I'm glad to see that jurors no longer need to hear evidence/proof and have their minds made up in advance. /sarcasm The article made it sound like (imho) that the jury had already decided before all arguments had been heard.

Re:Sounds like a great jury (2, Interesting)

lysse (516445) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920643)

Is there any chance that this can form the basis of an appeal, to have a mistrial declared? Or do the juror's comments reveal no more than the prevailing opinion of the jury?

Dumb (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920525)

Though the "IP address = person" argument is obviously pretty weak, more attention should be paid to the damages the law says is reasonable. 222,000 is in no way reasonable (~9k per song). Even if the jury gave her the minimum set by law(~700 iirc), it wouldn't be reasonable.

Re:Dumb (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920743)

more attention should be paid to the damages the law says is reasonable

Agreed.

This case is on par with shoplifting and should be punished as such.

The woman probably lied to the jury, and the woman was probably guilty, and the jury was probably right to convict. But the damages, those are the real question. And as part of that, are the damages so out of whack that they motivated to the defendant to lie?

I mean, if I were at a shoplifting trial and the penalty was a public stoning, I would expect the defendant to try pretty much anything to dodge the bullet. And if I thought the defendant did it, but that there was no way she should have to pay that kind of price I'm stuck.

Yes, there is 'jury nullification', but lawyers universally hate it, judges don't like it (probably because they are all former lawyers), and when juries are instructed by the judge the option to nullify isn't mentioned. So it isn't mentioned much, and doesn't happen much, and most people don't know its really an option.

Additionally, in this case its not so much the law itself that needs to be nullified but the damages attached to it. I don't think shoplifting is right, but I'm not going to stone someone over it, not ever, not even if they lied to me to my face in a court. But that's me.

I'm looking for better results from the unreasonable/unconstitutional damages cases that are springing up, because those I think have real shot at winning. And this case will only fuel that fire. $220,000 for 24 shared tracks is absurd.

Re:Dumb (1)

epee1221 (873140) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920897)

This case is on par with shoplifting and should be punished as such.
Aye, the "copyright is theft" crowd often seem to disagree with the idea of punishing copyright to the same degree as theft.

Not the question of guilt, but of quantity (4, Insightful)

Xeth (614132) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920543)

Well, yeah, she was pretty clearly guilty (e.g. wiping the hard drive after she got in trouble). That's not the issue. It's a question as to whether the ruinous damages were justified.

They weren't.

Re:Not the question of guilt, but of quantity (1)

robinsonne (952701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920779)

IANAL, but just because she wiped her hard drive doesn't automatically = guilty of distribution. Obstruction of justice (or is there a different term for in a civil trial?), perjury, sure.

Martha Stewart is a good example of this, she never was found guilty/liable for insider trading, but got hit for obstructing the investigation.

Re:Not the question of guilt, but of quantity (1)

Xeth (614132) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920879)

Yeah, but since it's a civil case, I'm pretty sure it meets the "preponderance of evidence" requirement.

The jury *was* full of morons... (5, Insightful)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920553)

"That is a compromise, yes," said Hegg, a 38-year-old steelworker from Duluth, Minnesota. "We wanted to send a message that you don't do this, that you have been warned."

Sorry, $9,250 is ridiculous and doesn't send a message about anything other than the fact that, contrary to the comment of your fellow juror that you do in fact know what's going on in Duluth, you really don't know what the fuck is going on. You awarded money that was originally meant for people who were *SELLING* copyrighted songs, not "sharing" for free.

Hegg was certainly no genius: (1)

DogFacedJo (949100) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920755)

Hegg, a married father of two who said he formerly raced snowmobiles, said he has never been on the internet. He said his wife is an administrator at a local hospital and an "internet guru."
How did they find him? Why did both the RIAA and the defense decide that they wanted jurors they found under under some wet rocks? Bizarre.

Re:Hegg was certainly no genius: (2, Insightful)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920881)

It's interesting that a judge would have to recuse himself if he was unqualified to understand the evidence being presented, but a member of the jury isn't.

Re:The jury *was* full of morons... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920951)

I'm not sure you understand what "send a message" means. "Send a message" means that the award is disproportionate to the actual damages/crime. The jury found the defendant liable. And the award to the plaintiff was disproportionately large. And the jurors knew that it was disproportionately large in order to deter others from doing the same as this woman.

Whether or not that money was for people who were selling, or sharing, or hacking Microsoft, or transporting drugs, or shooting bottle rockets into your ass, has absolutely nothing to do with the amount of the award, given that they found the defendant liable and wanted to deter others from doing the same.

White Bronco Redux (4, Insightful)

corby (56462) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920561)

All of the Slashdotters who are holding up Jammie Thomas as some kind of martyr remind me of the African-Americans who embraced OJ Simpson as some symbol of racial injustice.

You guys have picked the wrong horse.

Re:White Bronco Redux (4, Insightful)

techstar25 (556988) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920811)

You are absolutely right. Sure, we all hate the RIAA because their tactics are suspect, but the fact is that the music she downloaded and shared was not hers to distribute. The rights belonged to the artists who recorded it, and those artists made a decision to sign with a record label and therefore protected by the RIAA. What she did is wrong. Did the penalty fit the "crime". No way. But she should not be vilified. She fucked up. Bad.
The lesson learned is that the next person who get a fine from the RIAA, and the opportunity to settle had damn sure better have a solid defense if they take it to court. Claiming someone outside your apt hacked your wifi when you don't own a wireless router just won't cut it, even in RedneckVille, USA.

Re:White Bronco Redux (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920857)

What she did is wrong.
Wooooo... nice attempt to slip that in there. But the fact that an unjust law says you're not allowed to do something does not mean you are doing something "wrong" by ignoring that law. In fact, I say exactly the opposite. By ignoring an unjust law she was doing something *right*.

And that's the defense she should have presented to the jury. They felt she was trying to trick them with technicalities.

Re:White Bronco Redux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920941)

No, what she did was wrong.

Re:White Bronco Redux (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920971)

If I am on a jury you are going to have a hard time getting my backing on the idea that copyright law is unjust.

Insane. (4, Interesting)

mosch (204) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920573)

Two points here:

1) I can't imagine what a pathetic and aggressive loser you have to be to think that somebody should pay $3.6m as restitution for letting somebody copy 24 songs (even if you think they're guilty.)

2) It really sounds like they don't understand the difference between a defense lawyer saying "they didn't prove that this technically feasible activity didn't happen" and a woman who is actively claiming that this was the case.

I hope that the douchebags who pushed for $150k/song get hit by the RIAA because their kids installed some software without their knowledge, because only then will they realize how completely and totally fucking wrong they are.

Personally, I doubt the jury's neutrality (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920575)

In TFA, the juror says that they'd still have come to the same verdict if the RIAA had had to prove that somebody'd downloaded the files. TFA also says that the jury was shown that 3,000,000 people were on Kazaa while her hard drive was shared, but there's no mention of their showing that anybody actually took advantage of the offer. I'm sure that if there had been any proof the files were downloaded, it would have been produced in court, so that means that they have no such proof. And yet, the jury would have come to the same conclusion. Fair? Impartial? I don't think so.

Jury Instructions... (2, Informative)

Mongoose Disciple (722373) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920591)

For what it's worth, I was recently picked to be on a jury in a (totally unrelated) criminal case, and the judge's instructions to us were very specific that it was our job as jury to decide what the facts of the case were, but that it was not our job to decide what the law said or whether the law was fair or not. I'd guess this jury received some similar instructions.

(I know that, historically, some juries have refused to find a defendant guilty when they thought the punishment excessive for the crime or didn't agree with the law. I'm just throwing this out there because I suspect it'll be relevant to some of the posts to follow.)

Re:Jury Instructions... (1)

robinsonne (952701) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920679)

Part of the jury instructions in my home state (not MN), but I imagine other states have similar instructions as well.

While it is your duty as a juror to give the defendant the benefit of every reasonable doubt, you are not to search for doubt. You are to search for the truth.

Re:Jury Instructions... (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920945)

That is for a criminal trial. This is a civil trial, which is decided on the preponderance of the evidence.

Re:Jury Instructions... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920687)

I know that, historically, some juries have refused to find a defendant guilty when they thought the punishment excessive for the crime or didn't agree with the law.
For the record, this is called jury nullification [wikipedia.org] and is a traditional right of juries going back a very long time. For reasons which should be obvious, judges don't generally appreciate that right and will not make any mention of it. Juries will always be instructed on the law and that their role is to decide whether the law was broken, not whether the law is just, but a sufficiently independent-minded jury has every right to do what they believe is right rather than following these instructions.

Re:Jury Instructions... (4, Informative)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920741)

I know that, historically, some juries have refused to find a defendant guilty when they thought the punishment excessive for the crime or didn't agree with the law.


That's called "jury nullification" and judges hate it because there's not a damned thing they can do about it. In fact, attorneys are forbidden to mention the concept in their arguments. If the jury in this case had decided to do that, the RIAA would have had no grounds for appeal, because the jury is the *only* arbiter of fact. You can appeal decisions of the judge, but not the actual jury decision. IANAL and all that, but that's how I understand it.

Re:Jury Instructions... (1)

Nephilium (684559) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920775)

Bah... that's a definitive time to ignore the instructions. Part of a jury's job is to decide if a law is just. Unfortunately, it's a pretty sure bet that if you admit you know what Jury Nullification is, you'll get kicked off a jury...

Nephilium

Re:Jury Instructions... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920871)

Yes it's a very common instruction from Judges. Good jurors will ignore unconstitutional instructions like that one. I served as a jury foreman on a criminal trial earlier this year.

So what? (0, Troll)

plasticsquirrel (637166) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920597)

In the end, "after bickering," they settled on $9,250 for each song.
So to teach her a lesson, the jury decided to turn her life upside down and bankrupt her over an MP3 collection...

Jeebus, I need to move to Sweden.

Re:So what? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920631)

Do you need some help booking a ticket? I know of a few sites. If you set up a paypal account I might even kick in a few bucks.

Re:So what? (2, Insightful)

Cecil (37810) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920693)

No, they decided to turn her life upside down and bankrupt her over lying to a jury. The MP3 collection was just the vehicle.

Re:So what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920723)

actually, you need to go out and find a political party in the country you're a citizen (i'm just going to guess that this is the u.s.a.) and vote to put them in power, so they can change the laws to your liking.

i'm always amazed by the relatively low turnout during elections.

in some cases, it's less than 50%. in others, it might approach 70%.

sadly, this might not even include those who don't "register" to vote, even though they are entitled to do so.

Re:So what? (0, Offtopic)

mingot (665080) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920863)

Screw that. Let's go in on that ticket so he can go not vote somewhere else.

Re:So what? (0)

Reverend528 (585549) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920783)

the jury decided to turn her life upside down and bankrupt her over an MP3 collection...
24 songs is hardly a "collection".

Re:So what? (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920911)

She had several hundred CDs ripped and online.

Demanding a jury (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920635)

Hmm.. seems kind of silly to demand a jury and then try to make a highly technical defense. Juries are swayed by fantasy tale interpretations of events. "She did it" is all they are interested in. They're not interested whether or not the prosecution has sufficiently proven their case. It would seem that, for this kind of defense, you're better off waiving your right to a jury trial. The judge will be a lot more interested in your technical questioning of the evidence.

The RIAA had a very clear case (1)

lavalyn (649886) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920647)

If the article is to be believed, the evidence pointing to the defendant is pretty substantial. It wasn't only IP addresses and ISP logs. It was account names (a hint to all of you: don't use the same account name everywhere if you don't want to be identifiable across different environments) as well. At that level of clearly identifying the person, and with a description of the defendant also established as "computer literate" to the point that they knew exactly what they were getting into? I'd call them liable too.

Perhaps surprising to Slashdot, the members of the RIAA does indeed have the copyrights to the works in question.

Aside: if you don't agree with how the members of the RIAA operate, stop giving them your money. But that doesn't mean you get to download stuff off P2P; in the same way the GNU GPL enforces "no distribution" if they can't meet their combined obligations, neither do you get to download music (or movies, re members of the MPAA) just because you feel like it.

Re:The RIAA had a very clear case (1)

Korveck (1145695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920899)

I think no one is questioning whether the person is guilty of copyright violation. The point of debate is whether the penalty for the violation is reasonable. There is no way the person has caused $220000 worth of damage to the RIAA.

This just goes to show you... (1)

The_Mystic_For_Real (766020) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920653)

Don't break the law, and don't assume you can get away with it. She knew she was screwing some record labels out of money, so what? Everyone does it. Of course it happens everyday but it is still not acceptable, if people don't get paid, people don't work. End of story. What really did her in though was the lies. Look this guy might not be a kernal hacker but he seems reasonable, and that he got a firm grasp of the facts. He was willing to let her off with a slap on the wrist, but then she decided to tell blatant lie after blatant lie. Look, the RIAA is a lot more trustworthy that a woman who appears to be, in all frankness, a piece of white trash.

She was made an example of (3, Insightful)

InlawBiker (1124825) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920675)

It's sort of the perfect target for the RIAA. Somebody was caught and then stubbornly played dumb, ignoring the possible repercussions. The result is exactly what they wanted - big headlines to scare the general file-sharing public. The money reward is pocket change.

Meanwhile, will it really deter piracy? No. Does the punishment fit the crime? No. They can see all that money slipping away and there's not a thing they can do about it.

The jury was informed (1)

teh tw (1055686) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920681)

"The juror, Michael Hegg, a steelworker that claims he has never been on the Internet, said it took just five minutes to reach the verdict."

Obviously the RIAA's tactics are working, whether you believe they are good or evil (one vote here for evil). They are able to convince those who have never been on the internet about file sharing over KaZaA, which is an internet based protocol. She was guilty, looking at the evidence, but the trial does seem a bit questionable.

Justice System? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920689)

How can a fair justice system exist in such an environment? It is my understanding that medical hearings are heard by a competent jury. Shouldn't this be the same for crimes/matters involving non trivial technology? For the price assessed as damages for one song, I could probably hire someone to rob a music store, rip each cd, and return the disks to the local police station.

Re:Justice System? (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920781)

Do you really believe that she wasn't sharing copyrighted songs? I mean, c'mon... for all our rage against the Gestapo tactics of the RIAA, there's really no doubt here that she was sharing songs, and her "what, little old me?" me didn't fool anyone, even a jury that wasn't particularly techno-saavy.

i feel for her but (1)

bravo369 (853579) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920701)

I feel for her but i don't think she has a leg to stand on. If I was on the jury with my knowledge of the internet/ip address/kazaa, i could buy some of her defense about spoof. If she had a wireless router than that would have helped too. The fact that her kazaa name matched her aim and/or email address then that gave it away right there. If she was using kazaa lite and it showed up as the default username that it used, i probably wouldn't have ruled against her. Although even though I would have found her guilty, I probably would have held out on something like $10 per song in damages. Or better yet, $18 for a CD with 15 songs...so roughly $1 per song. I wouldn't award anymore to the RIAA. Speaking of, What would have happened if they couldn't agree on a price? I would been steadfast that I am not making a single mother pay $9000+ per song for something I can record off the radio.

Re:i feel for her but (1)

irc.goatse.cx troll (593289) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920959)

$1 per song... per transaction? Still would add up to a lot. Keep in mind she was charged with distribution.

Sharing A Crime? (1)

aldheorte (162967) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920711)

"He said the RIAA established that Kazaa existed for the sole purpose of file sharing."

That's like saying the sole purpose of Internet Explorer is to browse the Web. The main problem here is that people have let the RIAA define the vocabulary by making "sharing" a bad word and using "pirates" to denigrate those who share files of any kind (without charging for downloads). However, don't we teach sharing as a good community value to children at an early age? The day this tide will turn is when people convince the media to start terming all of this as RIAA's "war against sharing" and then in cases like this, if the RIAA cannot prove that the person actually profited from sharing certain files, therefore demonstrating that they actually incurred some injury by not realizing a demonstrated revenue stream, juries will shrug.

I agree but ... (4, Insightful)

Durandal64 (658649) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920727)

The most disturbing part of these interviews was that the jurors said they would've reached the same conclusion regardless of whether a transfer had to take place to be infringement, especially since none of the case coverage mentioned the RIAA lawyers showing evidence that any transfers took place at all. They mainly focused on how file sharing is terrible for their cartel, estimates for its effect on their cartel as a whole, etc ... They never said anything like, "As a result of her making files available, N people downloaded the song for free, which translates to $D in lost sales". Absent any evidence that transfers took place, there was no way the jury could have found her guilty of infringement if the instruction was "Infringement only occurs when a transfer takes place".

The jury definitely had their minds made up well before their deliberations. They came to the right legal conclusion for the wrong reasons: they felt insulted.

Re:I agree but ... (3, Interesting)

The Empiricist (854346) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920921)

The RIAA did not have to show that they lost $D in lost sales. They sought statutory damages instead. Statutory damages can be a bit problematic though, especially copyright statutory damages which are per work. They tend to overpunish on works such as individual songs; a light infringer can rack up even minimum damages very quickly. In this case, the defendant would have been liable for at least $18,000 once infringement was found. On the other hand, they can underpunish in other situations. Imagine someone making an illegal copy of a pre-release movie reel, but being caught before distributing it. The potential damages the individual could have caused to the success of the movie and the total cost of producing the movie may have been much more than the damages caused by the infringer of a bunch of songs, but the statutory liability is quite low (less than what the defendant in this case was hit with I believe).

A naive jury from Duluth. (4, Funny)

Aqua OS X (458522) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920885)

"I think she thought a jury from Duluth would be naive."
Way to disprove that by fining a stupid Kazaa user a quarter of a million dollars.

$9250 per song, eh? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920905)

Well, I'm off to pay the RIAA the $2,368,000 I owe them. Let's hope they don't think a higher fine would be appropriate.

Stupidity (5, Funny)

overbaud (964858) | more than 6 years ago | (#20920917)

"I think she thought a jury from Duluth would be naïve. We're not that stupid up here" implies that Duluth juries are stupid... just not *that* stupid.

gawd bress y'all (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20920927)

Well I'm getting more and more thankful that i don't live in the US.

Quite apart from this kind of thing... there's the creationism and the growing influence of religious delusion, the successive govts taking away civil liberties, the media selling the govt lies to start wars- it all add up to a pretty sorry state of affairs.

The thing is that most of you don't think there is a problem at all, let alone seem to want to do anything about it. In this sense it can be argued that the consequences of your apathy/arrogance deserve to be shared by all of you.
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