4 Years And 2 Trials Later, The $1.92 Million RIAA Case Continues

Remember Jammie Thomas-Rasset? She was accused of sharing 24 songs on Kazaa in 2006. Two trials and four years later, the case still isn’t over. They’re now trying to avoid a third trial.

The latest word: After the second trial awarded the RIAA $1.92 million, a judge lowered the amount to $54,000. The RIAA said they would accept $25,000. Ms. Thomas-Rasset said she would pay nothing.

“There is nothing we have to offer they would be willing to accept,” her attorney said. Wired says he added that Thomas-Rasset might agree to settle for the statutory minimum $750 a track.

First RIAA File Sharing Trial Morphs Into Groundhog Day [Wired]

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  1. Nighthawke says:

    You would think that Double Jeopardy would apply to litigation like this….

    • Tim says:

      Double jeopardy only applies to criminal court, not civil.

      Plus, the multiple trials are because of appeals, not new cases.

      • Nighthawke says:

        Which is what I was wishing for. RIAA is going to bury the family with lawsuit after lawsuit until they are either dead or got every penny they have.

        • mythago says:

          Or, until the RIAA figures out that they’re actually losing more money on lawyers’ fees than they will be making if they keep pushing the lawsuits.

          • BZWingZero says:

            They don’t care how much this specific case costs them. They want an obscenely high verdict in their favor that they can use as precedent for future cases, even if this case turns out to be a net loss. That’s why they didn’t agree to the $25,000. They though it would set too low of a precedent.

          • NeverLetMeDown says:

            At this point, they can’t walk away. The RIAA has won every time things have come before a jury, and there’s no reason for them to give up now. If we had a reasonable justice system, with loser pays, Thomas-Rasset would have settled long ago, rather than continue to run up the RIAA’s legal fees with a clearly losing case.

            • ktetch says:

              They may well have won BOTH times they’ve gone before a jury, *BUT* they haven’t won every time in court. There are at least two cases where they’ve admitted they had no case, and paid out over $300,000 to those two people – One was Debbie foster, the other will come to me later.

          • dangermike says:

            maybe/maybe not. Often the losing party must reimburse the winner of a trial for legal fees. Also, the RIAA lawyers may very well be salaried by the RIAA and effectively considered overhead on the company’s balance sheet.

      • Alexk says:

        Correct on both counts. This is a case where the RIAA is trying to make a point, and has bent pretty far to lessen fees and let the woman off the hook. She just wants a win where she’s already lost in court.

    • chaesar says:

      I think it has something to do with appeals, right? I wonder if, after all this is over, this poor woman can sue the RIAA for trying to ruin her life.

      • Alexk says:

        Double Jeopardy certainly doesn’t apply when you LOSE, which is the case here. The woman lost the case and is refusing to pay. A judge lowered the judgment, and she still won’t pay. She’s gaming the system, relying on those who make excuses for infringment to make her a cause celebre.

        • tsumeone says:

          It doesn’t take a genius to realize the fines are excessive, so I can’t fault her for not paying. When sharing music costs more than a DUI there is a huge problem.

        • mythago says:

          She does not have to pay because there is not a final judgment ordering her to pay, due to the previous two trials being mistrials.

    • mythago says:

      I do not think that word means what you think it means.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double_jeopardy

  2. FreshPorcupineSalad says:

    Something blood… something something turnip…

  3. blogger X says:

    Kazaa?!? That brings back memories!

  4. KPS2010 says:

    RIAA back the F off. Music these days sucks so bad I wouldn’t even pay $.50 a DL.

    • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

      No doubt! I think I’ve got the back catalogue of pretty well everything I’m interested in, which is far less than I thought years ago. When I listen to the radio, every metal group almost sounds identical, every “R&B” song sounds the same as they did 15 years ago, and dance music has become nothing more than a collection of “normal” run through Sony Acid to add bass beats. And country? Don’t even get me started. It’s like listening to FOX news with steel guitar playing in the background! I can’t differentiate current metal at all unless they’re some extreme like Mindless Self Indulgence or System of a Down. RIAA needs to STFU and die.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        Normal songs, I meant.

      • chaesar says:

        if you think System of a Down is “extreme” there is much you have to discover

        • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

          I didn’t mean extreme as in loudness, craziness or out there. I meant extreme as very noticeably different sound from the mainstream. The point I’m making is that the pop/crap promoted by the RIAA and that is played on the average radio station all sounds the same.

          • BobOki says:

            I would agree MSI is pretty distinguishable when put against other music….. and SoaD would be the same just in the opposite direction. Their suck is pretty singular, and their lead singers karaoke sounds are pretty much only heard in local bars.

      • godlyfrog says:

        You forgot to tell the kids to get off your lawn.

    • Griking says:

      If that’s your opinion then clearly there’s no risk of you stealing music like the person in this lawsuit apparently did.

      • pantheonoutcast says:

        She broke into a store and made off with a trombone?

        There was no more theft of music here than there is listening to it on the radio, or Pandora, or Youtube, or by a thousand other free methods.

        • trujunglist says:

          stop sounding so reasonable, wtf

        • Coyote says:

          Your example poses a good question. If in fact she had broke into a music store and stole her own musical equipment she would be charged with a misdemeanor (provided she didn’t grab a hand full of gibsons or something) that case would have probably cost her a small fine and community service.

  5. Herbz says:

    I still don’t get how $750 MINIMUM is an appropriate punishment for “pirating” a $1 song.

    Maybe $50…

    • temporaryscars says:

      Because they’re not just counting what she downloaded, but the possible number of times she uploaded it as well. She’s paying for her copy plus who knows how many people out there who downloaded it.

      Fair? Absolutely not, but at least now it makes a little more sense.

      • Munchie says:

        Should it not be required of them to show how many times it was distributed and fine accordingly? If it can’t be proven then she is distributing it would make the whole notion a scam.

    • Llama says:

      Because when the law about ‘illegal piracy of music’ was written, pirating music involved you burning CDs and selling them at flea markets or something – for profit. So in that case, that amount would have been deemed an appropriate fine and enough to stop him doing it.

      When the trend turned towards ‘piracy being obtaining stuff for your personal usage’, nobody bothered to update that law – and I’m pretty sure if anyone did, they’d be lobbied so hard that congress would explode.

      • Coyote says:

        No that’s wrong,

        the $750 figure comes from the way the law is supposed to work, against rival corporations/black market sales. The casual user was never meant to be charged with this type of offense. If she had been copying and selling boatloads on the chineese market, or had used/edited said music into her own work without permission then yes. But at no point does anything a housewife downloading a few songs effect the company/sales/noteriety of the artist they “represent”.

      • pot_roast says:

        Since Obama has packed the DOJ with former RIAA lawyers (Five of them, to be exact) we are pretty much guaranteed that the laws would only get worse. Also keep in mind Joe Biden’s deep love affair with Hollywood Democrats. He has gotten an “F” rating on tech privacy/copyright issues from many groups for years. Just yesterday he was talking about how “piracy is theft” to media moguls and promising them that he would work to strengthen copyright protections to prevent piracy.

  6. TehQ says:

    And the RIAA wonder why everyone hates them. $1.92 million for 24 songs? Thats way over the top.

    • Mecharine says:

      Thats actually the cost of buying a music CD. See, it was a fair judgement after all!

      • partofme says:

        If by “music CD” you mean “musical artist”, then yes. Yes she did buy herself a personal musical artist.

        • Keavy_Rain says:

          Hell, if that’s all it takes to buy a musical artist I’ll buy Justin Bieber then make him NOT perform.

    • DanRydell says:

      Did you miss the part where they were willing to settle for $25,000? $25,000 likely being far less than the RIAA’s costs for this case.

      Also, the RIAA always offered very low initial settlements in these cases (a few thousand dollars).

      Additionally, she shared over 1700 songs, but they only sued over 24. Something about rubbing salt in wounds…

      • ktetch says:

        A very low initial settlement? Hardly.

        A low initial settlement would make it in line with the costs of evidence and legal advice, $1000 tops, but $500 would be more typical.

        (Note, I used to be a copyright enforcer for a music company, 10-11 years ago, I’ve got plenty of first-hand experience in this)

  7. brianisthegreatest says:

    Oh, Jamie Thomas. You’re so bad on the stand, you almost do deserve that 1.92m judgement. I think it’s already laying the groundwork for a good case citing, though. Hopefully she doesn’t fully disclose her attempts at destroying evidence or hiding information this time. Something needs to be done about the damages awarded to the plaintiff’s in these illegal downloading suits. Probably won’t though. You will pay the media companies.

    • Dre' says:

      If you have been following this case you’d know that the last judge set an upper limit on the judgment of $54k. This means that the RIAA cannot get more than that & now they are just trying to make her life miserable even though it will cost them much, much more in lawyers fees to do so.

      Lol @ paying the “media companies”. You have a better chance of being struck by lightning, but kudos on you for drinking the kool-ade, kid.

      • brianisthegreatest says:

        I’m pretty sure I’ve followed it closer than you have. Jamie Thomas confessed to having the hard drive swapped out of the computer by Geek Squad, and the jury set the judgment at 1.92m. I don’t think I was making any assertion that the current amount owed was that much. I was simply stating that she played her cards wrong, and she did. That says nothing about current damages owed to the RIAA.

        Please explain to me in any amount of detail the ratio of odd situations like this in RIAA cases in which someone has withheld payment in this manner. I think a few cases have made it to the press and to trial, leaving thousand upon thousands of settlement letters paid up like they wanted.

        If you think lawyer fees would for one second cause hesitation on part of the RIAA, or in any case from winning any amount possible, think again. This is purely a statement, sir. Yes, insane damages, single mom, may be bad PR, but when’s the last time you heard about that on the 5 o’clock news? The point is, if you download, they will come for you. They will take down your torrent hubs, software vendors, lobby for legislation (which is working absolute wonders for them in the EU).

        You think I’m mistaken, or drinking some kool-ade? You’re high.

        Also, paying the media companies… You’ve never watched an ad on tv? Seen an ad online? Watched a video on youtube, hulu, netflix streaming, vimeo? Listened to ad driven music streaming? Listened to music on a paid subscription service? You’ve never bought a dvd, cd, vhs, cassette tape? I’ve never been struck by lightning.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        Although the cultural term has been adopted as “kool-aid,” it was actually “flavor-aid” that the poor saps at the Jonestown massacre ingested. Not really relevant, just a pet-peeve when the media or anyone else uses that term.

  8. Short_Circuit_City says:

    $1.92 million for 24 songs will still probably be more than what BP gets fined for the Gulf. Let’s start working on getting priorities in order around here.

    • VashTS says:

      Totally agree on this. The government, will probably scold BP in public and drink fine wine with them in the back.

    • pantheonoutcast says:

      Yeah, let’s compare a possible criminal negligence case with a simple copyright infringement case because it’s currently trendy to mention how much you hate BP. any other legal non sequiturs you want to mention?

      “OJ killed two people and got off scot-free, but the courts are going after a woman for two million dollars over some songs? Outrageous!”

    • jtheletter says:

      From http://money.cnn.com/2010/06/21/news/companies/bp_third_bill/index.htm
      “The Obama administration said BP “and other responsible parties” have paid the first two bills in full, for
      a total of $70.89 million. Monday’s bill makes a total of $122.29 million billed to date. “

      From http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/17/us/politics/17obama.html
      “President Obama announced that BP would create a $20 billion fund to pay damage claims”

      BP has also suspended its dividend for the next 3 quarters, which is mention in the NYT article above.

      Speaking of priority, the Jammie Thomas case started in 2006, you know, 4 years BEFORE the BP spill in the gulf. Are we supposed to suspend all ongoing court cases when some other case comes up? Or can the courts probably handle more than one case at once?

      So in conclusion not only are you completely off topic by dragging BP into this discussion, your statement is also miserably incorrect. I’m not protecting BP here, I’m calling you out for such terrible snark.

  9. dragonfire81 says:

    Remember folks this is the recording industry not the artists themselves. It just amazes me the RIAA doesn’t care that these lawsuits do little except piss off the customers who keep them in business.

    • Beeker26 says:

      They don’t ever expect to go to court. The whole idea is to shakedown consumers with settlement notices. This way they get people to shell out $1500-$2500 a pop and never have to set foot in court. It’s pure profit. But Jammie said hell no, take me to court. And she lost, twice. But what’s important here is the precedent set but the massive reduction in the award. And even after all these years she hasn’t paid them a dime and continues to fight. If all the other people who have been given settlement offers refused to give into the extortion attempt and said “f*ck you, sue me”, it would stop all this BS dead in its tracks, as the profit stream would be gone.

      • Rachacha says:

        If I remember correctly, she is in court for the third time because the RIAA was allowed to explain what the law was and the RIAA’s interpretation/explanation was incorrect and the judge never caught it or corrected the explanation. She lost the second time because the explanation of the law was flawed. The judge came out and said I made a mistake and they went to court for a third time.

        • katsuyakaiba says:

          If the RIAA can’t even explain or interpret the damn law for which they’re suing over right, then something in the law is wrong.

    • DanRydell says:

      1. People who illegally download music aren’t keeping the music industry in business.
      2. The lawsuits were always about providing a disincentive to illegally download. One of the main reasons why otherwise good people have been willing to steal the work of others is because no one ever tried to stop them.

      • ktetch says:

        1) WRONG!
        Every independant study disproves the claim that ‘downloaders cost the industry money’. The Canadian Government did a study a year or two back, found they’re actually the best customers. Just last month, the GAO noted that the claims of loss are without any sort of basis, and last WEEK another Government department was told by a whole host of academics, that the claims of loss were bogus, and self-serving.
        2) WRONG! (again)
        the lawsuits were about providing a ‘threat’, or intimidation. Oh, and it’s NOT stealing, and never has been. Any more than the VCR you used to own (and perhaps still do) was stealing. What she is accused of doing for music, and what they’re going after people for, was exactly the same thing the TV and movie industries claimed about the VCR.

        You might want to look how the VCR thing turned out for the movie and TV industry. Their expert testimony, to Congress, was that it would destroy the industries, and economically ravage the economy (gee, doesn’t that sound familiar) and yet, just FIVE YEARS (1987) after that testimony, the movie industry’s majority source of income was….. VHS tapes! Then we had the other economic factors, whole new businesses and industries, (such as BlockBuster, and netflix)

        The Sky has also singularly failed to fall when every other ‘infringing technology’ was introduced – player-pianos, phonograph, AM radio, FM radio, home reel-to-reel recorders, audio tapes, photocopiers, Cable TV, CD-R’s (and that’s just a brief list, there’s more). Each time there has been this sort of outcry. What’s the difference now? As well as ‘content’, the internet also allows the rapid dissemination of information, with incredibly low startup costs, and minimal reproduction costs.

  10. mexifelio says:

    The internet and all of its applications can be quite daunting at times, can’t she just claim temporary insanity? It works in murder cases!

    • BomanTheBear says:

      Only works in criminal cases, not civil ones.

      Which in this instance, is ironic, because the RIAA are the legal criminals here. I yearn for the day when corporate bullies like this can no longer arbitrarily prosecute to the fullest mothafuckin’ extent of the law.

  11. smo0 says:

    /facepalm

    Complete and utter bullshit.

    They are grabbing at straws… they get the occasional downloader that falls in their laps – where the guys who pirate tons of movies and music and distributes them via torrents REGULARLY, will never get caught – they know the system, many of them are hackers and pros at what they do.

    Go to Pirate Bay… search any “major” thing – there’s usually a “tag” a “handle” or a name of the person who rips/dl’s and/or distributes it… there are some key players in this… but no – the guy on the receiving end gets the stick because he didn’t do even MORE illegal activity to “skirt” da law.

  12. incident_man says:

    It’s because of these “shakedowns” that I haven’t bought any music in years, not even downloads thru iTunes. I listen to what I’ve got already; if that’s not enough, then I listen to internet radio now and then. I don’t much listen to broadcast radio anymore; RIAA gets paid less per listener of internet radio than broadcast radio. The only new music I get is from artists who release music themselves, rather than thru classic RIAA distribution channels. I don’t even watch American Idol.

    I don’t condone downloading music illegally, but the RIAA has gone way over the top with their “John Doe” lawsuits that I don’t feel like I need to support them anymore with any purchases.

  13. atomoverride says:

    wouldnt kazaa be at fault?

  14. JonBoy470 says:

    Yet more evidence that the recording industry is on its last legs. May they die a not so slow, yet still painful death.

  15. sagodjur says:

    Please see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genericized_trademark

    Language evolves as necessary for clear communication. How many people know what Flavor-Aid is?

    • sagodjur says:

      Er… apparently the “Replying to Persistence” part didn’t go through…

    • zifnab0 says:

      Wasn’t Flavor-Ade the Go-Bots of the powdered juice wars? Also, Jim Jones preferred it to Kool-Ade.

    • kylere1 says:

      Flavor-Ade is what they drank at Jonestown rather than Kool-Aid

      • sagodjur says:

        That’s my point. Persistence said it was annoying when people say “drank the kool-aid” instead of “drank the flavor-aid” but I’m saying that since flavor-aid is a lesser known brand and kool-aid (IMO) is a generic term these days for flavored sugar water, it’s easier to say kool-aid because fewer people will know what flavor-aid is.

        Not to mention the “drink the kool-aid” phrase, however inaccurate in the Jonestown scenario is now well established.

  16. Dr.Wang says:

    The onset of this story was also when I halted all purchases of CDs. Have not purchased a single one since her troubles started. Probably never will again.

  17. jim says:

    they should have sued her for a hundred million billion dollars. That would have been a much funnier amount of money to toss around. Idiots.

    • xcharliemx says:

      You’re charged based on the potential of other people could’ve downloaded from that one file.

      So if you have unprotected sex and you have AIDS do you get charged with 6,828,975,811 attempted murders?

    • xcharliemx says:

      You’re charged based on the potential of other people could’ve downloaded from that one file.

      So if you have unprotected sex and you have AIDS do you get charged with 6,828,975,811 attempted murders?

  18. yessongs says:

    Death to the RIAA! May their bones burn in hell!

  19. TardCore says:

    There is nothing more I despise in life than the RIAA. Ever since they started this campaign I have cut back on song purchases by 95%. $1 per song is a total ripoff. That’s the same price you pay to buy a tangible product that you can rip, share with friends and have liner notes. The overhead for a single download is fractions of a penny. When these blood thirsty parasites have reasonable prices I will buy songs again. Eff the RIAA cartel.

  20. Dallas_shopper says:

    Not sure how to feel about this case. Obviously the defendant is liable as all hell. Realistically, however, the RIAA will probably never see one thin dime of that judgment. They need to just let it go.

    But…what kind of example does that set if they do? As much as music today sucks and as much as I hate the RIAA, piracy is still theft in my book.

    Hmm. Tough one for me.

  21. MongoAngryMongoSmash says:

    Home taping is killing music!

    What the RIAA needs is a flashy rap song by a hipster MC with a catchy name who crusades against piracy. That would really curb this heinous act.