Minnesota music file-sharing defendant Jammie Thomas-Rasset yesterday completed her new copyright infringement trial. Unfortunately the result was about eight times worse than October 2007’s trial, in which a jury found her liable and awarded the RIAA damages of about $240k. This time the jury found her liable for infringing 24 song copyrights and awarded the RIAA damages of $80k per son, or $1.92 million. Last year’s verdict, Thomas-Rasset’s appeal, the trial judge’s subsequent criticism of his pro-RIAA jury instructions that making copyrighted songs available for sharing constituted infringement, and the just-completed retrial received considerable notice, if you pay attention to these things. (See prior posts here, here, here, here, here, and here.) Thomas-Rasset’s response to the damage award was “good luck trying to get it from me . . . it’s like squeezing blood from a turnip.” The RIAA reiterated its willingness to settle, an offer on which Thomas-Rasset has passed.
Ars Technica reports (see first linked article) there were ample grounds for the jury’s verdict:
The evidence clearly pointed to her machine, even correctly identifying the MAC address of both her cable modem and her computer’s Ethernet port. When combined with the facts about her hard drive replacement (and her failure to disclose those facts to the investigators), her “tereastarr” username, and the new theories that she offered yesterday for the first time in more than three years, jurors clearly remained unconvinced by her protestations of innocence.
Something in the evidence turned the jurors against Thomas-Rasset. In 2007 she lost big. This week she lost huge. She says she plans an appeal, a stance aided by her pro-bono counsel. I don’t know what grounds she would have for appeal. Copyright infringement law is not on the side of file-sharers, no matter how many Harvard-trained lawyers they have. I agree the law needs changing, and that for many the RIAA is a particulary unsympathetic plaintiff, but if Iwere representing a file-sharing defendant I would think deeply about the reasons for the jury’s decision.