Talk about an excessive fine......
The Recording Industry of America today won its first jury trial against an individual accused of illegally downloading music.
A federal jury fined Jammie Thomas, 30, of Minnesota $220,000 in damages to the six record labels suing her for copyright violation. Thomas will pay $9,250 for each of the 24 songs the prosecution focused on for the case. The RIAA alleges she shared over 1,702 songs in all over the Kazaa peer-to-peer network. Read more about the case here.
Thomas denied any wrongdoing over the course of the three day trial. Her attorney, Brian Toder, argued that although the prosecution had fingered her screen name and IP address, they had little proof it was Thomas behind the keyboard — or that music was actually shared with anyone over the account. Toder suggested Thomas may have been victim to a spoofer, cracker or other malicious intrusion of her home network.
US District Judge Michael Davis ruled the labels did not have to prove the songs were transfered for Thomas to be held liable. The act of making the songs available is enough to constitute copyright infringement, he said.
Davis instructed the 12-member jury the range of the fine was $750 to $150,000 per song.
Attorney for the record companies, Richard Gabriel, spoke with reporters outside of the courthouse after the verdict. He said the RIAA will continue to aggressively pursue those it suspects of copyright violations.
"This is what can happen if you don't settle," Gabriel said.