Judge In Jammie Thomas Trial Seems Likely To Declare A Mistrial
from the appeals-on-the-way dept
In the ongoing saga of the Jammie Thomas trial, where the RIAA tried to get its first serious victory in court against an alleged file sharer, things may be looking a bit grim for the RIAA’s argument. While it initially gloated after winning the case, the judge later admitted that he may have made a “manifest error of law” in saying that the RIAA did not need to prove actual infringement — but that showing Thomas had “made available” content was good enough. While both the MPAA and the RIAA tried to explain why actual proof of infringement shouldn’t be necessary because it’s just too difficult (the gist of their arguments), it appears that the judge is not at all persuaded by their arguments and seems quite likely to declare a mistrial.
In the hearing today, the RIAA’s lawyer basically argued the same point: that because it’s too difficult to obtain evidence, evidence shouldn’t be necessary. The judge responded by pointing out that if Congress really intended for that to be the case, then it would have written the law to make it clear that “making available” was infringement. Since it did not, it seemed likely that Congress did not intend for the law to be read as the RIAA wants it to be read (have no fear, of course, because as we speak you can rest assured that RIAA/MPAA lobbyists are working to get the law changed on this point).
Of course, whoever loses this ruling will appeal, this case is far from over. It will go through a series of appeals to determine whether or not the whole “making available” aspect is distribution, and then even after that’s settled there are numerous other points that Thomas is likely to appeal (assuming the case is still going). What I don’t understand is why Thomas and her lawyer haven’t also appealed over the fact that the RIAA later admitted that a key witness lied on the stand concerning a key point over the legality of making personal copies of music you bought. That would seem to also be an important point.