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
    Mike C., 25 Sep 2008 @ 6:35am

    Re:

    To be honest, I believe that "may face a new trial" is a more appropriate term here. We have seen time and again that the RIAA will try to dismiss a case when they run into problems. Having a judge toss out their one and only win might be seen as a problem. Additionally, they might press to settle out of court and minimize the bad PR from potentially losing a case that had been trotted out as a massive win.

    Given their past behavior, this would not surprise me in the least.

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