Judge Declares Mistrial In RIAA's Only Court Victory

from the jammie-thomas-gets-a-second-chance dept

The RIAA's only court victory in its years-long legal battle against individuals who engage in unauthorized file sharing has been declared a mistrial, and the $222,000 fine against Jammie Thomas has been thrown out. Jammie Thomas may now face a new trial, but this time, the jury will be instructed that the record labels need to have shown actual infringement -- and that simply making files available is not infringement. This is a pretty huge loss for the RIAA, who had been running around like crazy using the Thomas verdict to (a) claim that the courts recognize that "making available" is infringement and (b) that this case somehow proves that file sharers will get huge fines. Yet, now the RIAA is back to having no actual court victories against file sharers, and its "making available = infringement" argument is once again rejected.

Perhaps equally as interesting, in declaring the mistrial, Judge Davis also called upon Congress to change the ridiculous fines that can be levied on file sharers, noting that they seem to be way, way out of proportion to the seriousness of the act:
The Court would be remiss if it did not take this opportunity to implore Congress to amend the Copyright Act to address liability and damages in peer-to-peer network cases such as the one currently before this Court. . . . While the Court does not discount Plaintiffs' claim that, cumulatively, illegal downloading has far-reaching effects on their businesses, the damages awarded in this case are wholly disproportionate to the damages suffered by Plaintiffs.

Filed Under: copyright, jammie thomas, making available, mistrial, trial


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  1. identicon
    2kmaro, 25 Sep 2008 @ 9:22pm

    Define Proof of IP in this day and age

    A good defense lawyer should certainly be able to show that an indication of an IP is not a guarantee that the indicated IP is actually the IP they (the RIAA) was connected to during the download.

    I just hope that there are some people on the jury that understand just how easy it is to forge an IP or email address and for it to be pretty believable unless you've taken extraordinary steps to verify it.

    Then of course there's always the "aw crap! I didn't know that I was sharing my files with the entire internet world" defense.

    While I do not condone theft of copyrighted material, the antics of the MPAA and RIAA to date have shown them to be larger villians than any file sharer I ever heard of. And as the judge noted, the potential fines are completely out of line with the actual damages done in cases like this one.

    When are the MPAA/RIAA going to realize that the solution is to invest the $$ they've been tossing at prevention in a new direction: a new business model that takes into account the potential of the internet as a market, rather than viewing it as some kind of combination of vile enemy and potential cash cow (by attempting to rape the vile enemy's agents with outdated legislature).

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