Jury rules against woman in music downloading case
Posted 2 hours 25 minutes ago
Updated 2 hours 12 minutes ago
File sharing: The woman had 1,702 songs in an online folder (file photo).
In the first US trial to challenge the illegal downloading of music on the Internet, a single mother from Minnesota has been ordered to pay more than $US220,000 ($247,000) for sharing 24 songs online.
Jammie Thomas, 30, is the first among more than 26,000 people sued by the world's most powerful recording companies to refuse a settlement after being slapped with a lawsuit by the Recording Industry of America and six major music labels.
She turned down an offer to pay a few thousands dollars in fines and instead took the case to court.
Unlike some who insist on the right to share files over the internet, Thomas said she was wrongfully targeted by SafeNet – a contractor employed by the recording industry to patrol the internet for copyrighted material.
Her lawyer said earlier this week that she had racked up some $US60,000 in legal fees because she refused to be bullied.
And while Thomas insisted that she had never downloaded or uploaded music, her lawyer tried to convince jurors there was no way to prove who had uploaded songs on the Kazaa file sharing network.
A jury took just five hours to decide that evidence provided by the music labels showed otherwise and found Thomas guilty of copyright infringement, court records show.
Thomas – an employee of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, an Indian tribe – was ordered to pay a $US9,250 fine for each of 24 shared songs cited in the case, including Godsmack's "Spiral", Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills" and Sara McLachlan's "Building a Mystery".
It could have been a lot worse.
Had the record companies sued her for all 1,702 songs found in the online folder, the fine could have run in the millions.
"This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK," Richard Gabriel, the lead attorney for the music companies, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Mr Gabriel said jurors had not explained how they had come up with a fine of $US9,250 per song out of sentencing guidelines which range from $US750 to $US150,000.
Thomas and her lawyer declined to comment as they exited the courthouse.
OK So frankly she was an idiot for not accepting in the first place, the big guys will always win. But people getting shat on for filesharing kinda saddens me because in all honesty, if it weren't for file sharing I wouldn't be a fan of OK Go, Jack's Mannequin, Something Corporate, Muse (OK maybe Muse later down the track, but not as early as I was) and an arseload of other artists.
i think most of us would be seriously screwed if a record company decided to sue us for every illegally downloaded song we had [did she get fined for sharing the songs, or having them in her possession]… at least i would… it seems like a lot of money to pay for 24 songs though..? …anyone why she got fined and not the other millions of people in the world who illegally download music..??
…and i totally agree with you about the whole 'discovering' artists thing…
two days ago i watched a special show on tv about two boys (one 16, the other 19 i think) who had to pay for sharing songs on the internet… The lawyer said, that those huge record companies wanted to set examples, but I don't understand what goes on in their heads… as if students or in this case a young single mother had the money… it's just ridiculous.
I try not to download much music, I love buying cds, but they have become extremely expensive (17€, Soundtracks even up to 30€)…
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