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RIAA hounds alleged filesharer in a third trial

Comment This time, it’s vindictive
Wed Feb 10 2010, 14:20

ALLEGED FILESHARER Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the first person to be tried for peer-to-peer filesharing in the US will be dragged through the courts for a third time as the RIAA rejected a federal judge's decision to lower its damage awards, according to a RIAA blog post yesterday.

Thomas-Rasset was ordered to pay £145, 000 in statutory damages for infringing copyrights on just 24 songs. The court had to throw this decision out after making an error in jury instructions and Thomas-Rasset was retried in 2009. At her second trial she was ordered to pay statutory damages of a whopping £1.2 million but the judge reduced that damage award to 'only' £34,500. That still works out to about £1,437.50 per tune, which is rather an astronomical amount more than Apple charges on Itunes.

We reported back in May that Jammie Thomas-Rasset was already on her second team of lawyers because her first team quit their pro bono representation. Now the RIAA has rejected the judgement and forced a third trial.

RIAA vice president of communications Cara Duckworth stated in the blog post, "If another trial is what is needed to close the book on this case once and for all, then we are left with no choice but to reject the Court's remittitur and proceed to a new trial on damages."

The black heart of the RIAA's decision to once more haul Thomas-Rasset through the courts is that it believes the judge's rulings are counter to copyright laws.

It said, "Neither the Copyright Act nor any case law distinguishes - as this Court did - between 'commercial' and 'non-commercial' infringers for statutory damages purposes. Moreover, neither the Copyright Act nor any case law contains any authority for capping damages at three times minimum damages in particular cases."

"It is not for the courts to fashion a limit on damages for any particular type of infringer or any particular type of infringement. That job belongs exclusively to Congress."

There's certainly no love lost between the last judge and the RIAA's attack dogs. Both previous judges were openly critical of the apparent injustice of this lawsuit. One asked Congress to amend and update existing statutory damages law and the other commented that the RIAA's lawyers conducted a very nasty campaign.

This will be the third time around for Thomas-Rasset. Making this mother of modest means the poster girl for alleged illegal copyright infringement once again is a cruel stunt by the RIAA. In fact, the RIAA blames Thomas-Rasset, the apparent victim of its oppressive campaign to make an example out of her, for the forthcoming third trial in this case, claiming that "American taxpayers should not have to bankroll a publicity campaign that the defendant and her counsel apparently seek."

The RIAA and the recording companies are simply wrong. The sole responsibility for the cost of this third trial to the US taxpayers should be laid at the feet of the RIAA and its Big Music members. It's a freak show publicity campaign initiated and prolonged by the RIAA in a muscle-flexing gesture to terrorise filesharers by threatening them with extreme punishment. µ


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