A federal jury in Minnesota has found Jammie Thomas-Rasset guilty of infringing 24 music copyrights and awarded the record labels a stunning $1.92 million in damages to the music industry. The jury verdict represents the second time Thomas has been found guilty of infringement, although the first verdict—for a mere $220,000 in damages—was thrown out by the trail judge because he found he had made an error instructing the jury, thus opening the door to a retrial.
The jury found Thomas-Rasset guilty of willfully infringing on the copyrights of 24 songs by making them available for sharing via the Kazaa file sharing application. The jury awarded some $800,000 in damages for each song, which was a far cry from the $750 per song Thomas-Rassett’s high profile defense attorney KW Camara had apparently envisioned as a worst-case scenario. Thomas-Rasset has made it clear she doesn’t have the means to pay such a mammoth penalty, and it appears she is inclined to continue pressing her case through the courts, perhaps appealing the jury verdict or launching additional efforts to challenges the constitutionality of such massive penalties.
Perhaps sensing that the size of the jury’s damage award could easily re-ignite negative public perceptions of the recording industry, the RIAA held out an olive brance instead of gloating, noting in a statement that it remains open to settling the case out of court.
The guilty verdict seems to have hinged on Thomas-Rasset’s own testimony at the retrial, in which she eventually admitted the hard drive that was turned over to forensic investigators was not the same hard drive that had been her computer when she first received notices of infringing activity. Evidence presented by the RIAA identified her cable modem and computer’s Ethernet controller, and speculative testimony that perhaps her children or former partner had used her username to share files without her knowledge apparently did not sway the jury.
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