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RIAA court case comes to an end

RIAA court case comes to an end

The RIAA has won the trial case against Jammie Thomas and has been awarded $222,000 in damages.

The RIAA can sit back, relax, and add another notch to it's growing belt of victories thanks to a jury in Duluth, Minnesota. The jury has awarded $222,000 in damages to the record companies.

Before we get into the finale of the trial, let's go over just what transpired during the two days of proceedings. This will be a long news piece but there is plenty of information contained for those that are interested.

On Tuesday, the jury selection process was done and then opening arguments began. Richard Gabriel, representing the record companies, began by saying that illegally downloading music hurts everyone in the industry - from the executives to the artists and all the way down to the distributors.

He accused Jammie Thomas of sharing more than 1,700 songs on the KaZaA P2P client. He then went on to explain how P2P clients work and how the investigators at SafeNet identify downloaders on the networks.

Following that, Gabriel went on to link Thomas to the tereastarr@KaZaA screenname that SafeNet had identified as sharing the music files. That portion of the case was fairly easy since Thomas has used the handle on MySpace, AIM, and even the Charter email account that the recorded IP was traced back to.

He accused Thomas of lying about the date that a hard drive was replaced in Thomas' computer saying that she had it replaced after receiving a letter from the RIAA in order to get rid of the evidence.

Brian Toder, the lawyer for the defense, then began his opening argument by stating that it was a tough case to prove Thomas' innocence. He claimed that the only solid evidence was the IP and MAC addresses that were used in order to share the music and that it could have been anyone on that connection.

Toder then went on to state that the hard drive in question was replaced before any correspondence from the RIAA or SafeNet was received. Thomas had taken the computer to Best Buy because of "beeping and error messages" and it was the decision of Best Buy to replace the hard drive.

After the opening arguments were made, the first witness for the prosecution, Jennifer Pariser, was called to the stand. Pariser is the head of litigation for Sony BMG and made some interesting comments during the questioning.

According to Pariser, not only is downloading music you already own illegal but so is ripping music from CDs that you have purchased. Yes, you've read that part right. "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song," Paiser said.

Pariser then went on to say that programs such as iTunes facilitate copyright infringement. So that means that you, me, and millions of other people out there are thieves because we like to rip our legally purchased music onto our hard drives. It sounds like, if the RIAA had its way about it, we would have to purchase a CD album to play in our stereos and another copy of the album to play on our digital music players and computer.

The biggest windfall from the case came from the cross examination of Pariser. Toder managed to get Pariser to admit that all of the lawsuits filed by the RIAA actually lose the record companies money. The record companies also have no clue as to the actual amount that is lost due to piracy.

During the second day of the trial, the prosecution made an attempt to prove that Thomas is guilty of not only uploading music, but downloading music as well. Gabriel argued that timestamps on the music proved that Thomas had copied music directly from another hard drive but the defense had a strong counter-argument. The timestamps showed that there was a fifteen to twenty second interval between songs and thirty to forty-five second interval between albums being placed on the computer.

For the defense, Toder proved that Thomas' computer was capable of ripping two CDs in 4:53:89. This time does not reflect the time it took to switch CDs.

The trial then went on with Ryan Maki, a Best Buy Geek Squad member, being called to the stand. Maki admitted that Best Buy records showed that Thomas had purchased hundreds of CDs both before and after the alleged infringement took place.

At the end of the second day, Thomas finally took the stand but, as it stands, did not help out her case. While Thomas did confirm that she used the screenname "tereastarr" in many places such as Match.com, MySpace, and her home computer login, she denied ever having KaZaA installed on her computer.

The prosecution then pointed out that the music found in the shared file of KaZaA user "tereastarr" matched the same music that was found on Thomas' hard drive. A mixed variety of artists such as Enya, Green Day, Black Sabbath, Sheryl Crow, and Lacuna Coil were found in both locations.

There was also some discrepancies between Thomas' deposition in March and her testimony on Wednesday. In her deposition, Thomas said that she ripped "no more than six or seven CDs a day" but when asked how over 2,000 songs were placed on her computer in a two day time period, Thomas said that her son was not playing hockey anymore and she had time to sit down and rip all of her CDs.

In the end, the prosecution built up a very strong case for the recording companies.

The record companies were originally after copyright infringement for twenty-seven songs but three were dropped from the list. That left twenty-four songs that Thomas could be liable for infringing upon for a maximum fine of up to $3.6 million in damages.

Before the jury was sent out for deliberation, the members were instructed that, in order to find infringement, the jury had to decide if an actual transfer took place. "The mere act of making copyrighted sound recordings available for electronic distribution on a peer-to-peer network without license from copyright owners does not violate the copyright owners' exclusive right to distribution," read the instructions to the jury. "An actual transfer must take place." Of course Gabriel was not pleased with this instruction and called for a review of the jury instructions. Review was postponed until Thursday morning.

On Thursday morning, Judge Michael Davis revised the jury instructions by tweaking a couple of them. He postponed reviewing the aforementioned instruction until last since it was the most debated. In the end, Judge Davis amended the instruction by saying "act of making available for electronic distribution... violates the copyright owner's exclusive copyright."

With the the debating over jury instructions done with, the jury members deliberated for four hours and came back with a final verdict. Jammie Thomas has been found guilty of twenty-four counts of copyright infringement and is liable for $222,000 in damages to the recording industry. It is still unknown as to whether or not the RIAA will enforce and try to collect the judgement.

So there we have it folks, the RIAA has won the first jury trial stemming from the massive amounts of infringement notices being sent out. This is sure to only add fire to the flames of lawsuits being sent out. Unless the ruling is overturned in an appeal, the RIAA will use this victory in order to help scare people away from using P2P networks to share music.

Does this victory for the RIAA make you think twice about looking for your favourite album on a P2P network or will it still be "business as usual" for you? Tell us your thoughts about the case and its outcome by discussing it with us over in the forums.

25 Comments

Discuss in the forums Reply
dire_wolf 5th October 2007, 09:13 Quote
Ouch, bet that was hard to swallow for her :(
Nohawk 5th October 2007, 09:15 Quote
What did all the other people that got letters from the RIAA do?
Delphium 5th October 2007, 09:16 Quote
Forum link in article does not point to this thread.

I fail to see how the 24 songs are worth $9,250 each :|
I dont personally touch P2P, so wll be business as usuall, ie, ripping my own cds to play on my digital player, I refuse to have to pay for a copy of my own cd's so that I may play them on a device I see fit.

I am digging the way that Radiohead have released there latest album, im not a huge fan of them, but I made my purchase for the ammount I see fit, and to make a point, hopefully if enough people do it, with any hope it will start a new trend of how to sell the music online. Well heres hoping at least.
sinkhead 5th October 2007, 09:17 Quote
They haven't touched Usenet yet, so it's business as usual for me :)

- Sam
mmorgue 5th October 2007, 09:22 Quote
Yep, why bother with P2P when you can use various proxies and SSL connections to a Usenet server and get *almost* whatever you want, DRM free, if one were so inclinded...

Makes you wonder why the RIAA (or the MPAA for that matter) haven't touched the usenet side of things. Perhaps because it's something they know they can never win against.

But as for making a copy of a cd being illegal?? If you share, distribute that copy away then sure -- but if it's for your own personal use, how has that made any loss for the industry? You've bought the music already, you should be free to use it in any way you want so long as it doesn't leave your "possession" as it were.

This whole thing just goes to show what a bunch of greeder f**kers the RIAA are.
naokaji 5th October 2007, 09:29 Quote
what worries me most is the following part:
Quote:
According to Pariser, not only is downloading music you already own illegal but so is ripping music from CDs that you have purchased. Yes, you've read that part right. "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song," Paiser said.

Pariser then went on to say that programs such as iTunes facilitate copyright infringement. So that means that you, me, and millions of other people out there are thieves because we like to rip our legally purchased music onto our hard drives. It sounds like, if the RIAA had its way about it, we would have to purchase a CD album to play in our stereos and another copy of the album to play on our digital music players and computer.

BURN IN HELL RIAA
TheCherub 5th October 2007, 09:31 Quote
At least the British Phonograph Society have said they aren't going to go after people who rip music to their own hard drives / MP3 Players. But having said that, I don't use p2p at all, so I have avoided the more blatant copyright issues.
Veles 5th October 2007, 09:53 Quote
I'd like to know how much of that money the artists actually receive, because it's all about the artists remember[/sarcasm]
Duste 5th October 2007, 10:31 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Veles
I'd like to know how much of that money the artists actually receive, because it's all about the artists remember[/sarcasm]

Rofl, none of it I bet. It'll all go back into the RIAA to fund future allegations.
Tim S 5th October 2007, 10:38 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by naokaji
what worries me most is the following part:
Quote:
According to Pariser, not only is downloading music you already own illegal but so is ripping music from CDs that you have purchased. Yes, you've read that part right. "When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song," Paiser said.

Pariser then went on to say that programs such as iTunes facilitate copyright infringement. So that means that you, me, and millions of other people out there are thieves because we like to rip our legally purchased music onto our hard drives. It sounds like, if the RIAA had its way about it, we would have to purchase a CD album to play in our stereos and another copy of the album to play on our digital music players and computer.

BURN IN HELL RIAA

Yep, that bit worried me too... I buy CDs, not MP3s for obvious quality reasons.
Paradigm Shifter 5th October 2007, 11:42 Quote
Fuel on the flames of the fight between 'fair use' and 'if you don't buy the same song fifteen different ways, you're a pirate'.:(
Rebourne 5th October 2007, 12:26 Quote
Guilty of theft sure, but I mean come on she wasn't using them to make a profit. That fine is cruel and unusual when applied to a normal person like that.
AcidJiles 5th October 2007, 13:00 Quote
if it was legal I would burn down the RIAA legal offices and coporate headquarters, but only the top levels where the execs are. ( please note the Daily Mail is on the top of the list for places to burn down if legal)
zabe 5th October 2007, 13:20 Quote
The whole philosophy in RIAA/MPAA is idiotic and ridicule. People are just refusing to pay the extra price that nobody should pay. This means (for example), the author of an album earns, lets say, 2 euros per album. The recording label then adds about other 8 euros for their "work" (90% done by machines anyway), and finally, the store adds other 15 euros to the final product. There you go, instead of 2 euros, you're paying 25 for a music album in this case. Well, I refuse to pay to the label just for making the copies, and I refuse even more to pay to the owner of the shop, who is doing NOTHING more than place the disks on shelves.

If RIAA/MPAA had just a tiny bit of intelligence among their staff, they would realize that online is the way to go: just sell your albums in digital format for, what, 6 euros? I'm prepared to pay that, I would be paying the artist and the label for their "work" (they're doing pretty little, but hey I understand that they have to earn something for commerce to exist). People just want to pay for what they get REASONABLY, and that's just not happening in the current business model.

Were I president, I would completely ban RIAA/MPAA and treat them as the criminals they really are, destroying people's lives with ridiculous fines, that nobody except a rich person would be able to pay anyway, as a punishment for their own erroneous business model. Wake up dammit, eliminate intermediaries and take your business model to the year 2007, where things are online and reasonably priced!!!

Thought of the day: you know how the shows you see on TV are really a copyrighted products, right? Well, then STOP recording in your VCR those episodes of LOST, Grey's Anatomy, Family Guy, etc when you're out, you're actually infringing copyright laws, cos the show is not your property, right? Yeah, whatever... I lmao in the face of RIAA/MPAA.
jakenbake 5th October 2007, 13:47 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delphium
Forum link in article does not point to this thread.

I fail to see how the 24 songs are worth $9,250 each :|

shes not being forced to pay for just the worth of the songs. shes being fined for copyright infringement.

well this sucks, i was hoping someone would stick it to the RIAA :(
Bluephoenix 5th October 2007, 14:07 Quote
I call foul on those amended jury instructions, thats grounds for appeal right there.

damn trial-rigging RIAA
Drexial 5th October 2007, 14:12 Quote
"act of making available for electronic distribution... violates the copyright owner's exclusive copyright." this is the part that scares me

but yes if you read in the article the 24 songs could have been a suit for over $3 million. because they have to assume that they lost revinue because of the people that DLed it. if they are so awsome at tracking people should only be held accountable for the songs they transfered. meaning if 3 people DLed a song off her then she needs to pay for teh lsot revinue for those DLs. but they seem to think that they are going to sell 133,333 coppies of each song that she shared (bassed on the 3.2 million)
Drexial 5th October 2007, 14:14 Quote
sorry that was 3.6 million in damages
Hells_Bliss 5th October 2007, 14:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluephoenix
I call foul on those amended jury instructions, thats grounds for appeal right there.

damn trial-rigging RIAA

no doubt. She would have been off scott free if it was the first jury instruction. All they really proved beyond a reasonable doubt is that she ripped CD's to her computer, and i'm sorry but **** you RIAA that isn't stealing. If I can make a copy of my software for backup purposes on my harddrive, that's not stealing, I don't know why her lawyer didn't bring up that point since there's precedence for that and how could they prove thats not what she was doing.

To me it sounds like she was a prolific buyer of CD's...I doubt she'll continue to be though.


On a completely seperate note:
The RIAA better wisen up to the fact that CD's are a dying format. There's DVD's, HD-DVD's, BluRay disks that can hold orders of magnitude more songs/space than CD's, I don't know why manufacturers don't put in combo players in cars/audio systems...of course that will never happen while money grubbing assholes like the record industry have the artists by the balls :(
Luukas 5th October 2007, 17:21 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hells_Bliss
On a completely seperate note:
The RIAA better wisen up to the fact that CD's are a dying format. There's DVD's, HD-DVD's, BluRay disks that can hold orders of magnitude more songs/space than CD's, I don't know why manufacturers don't put in combo players in cars/audio systems...of course that will never happen while money grubbing assholes like the record industry have the artists by the balls :(
I respectfully disagree with you there. DVD-A -players are very rare, and you can't use them [DVD-A discs] with a PC unless you have specific hardware (as I understand, Creative's cards were/possible still are the only ones that allow the playback of DVD-A... but only as long as you use the analog outs).

Likewise the HD-DVD vs. BD war is still raging, and the players are, again, exceedingly rare compared to CD-capable hardware. And here I ask, what would the benefit(s) be in migrating away from CDDA?

*DVD-A supports multi-channel audio, which is nice and all, but such setups are - again - rare versus stereo. Fortunately however, they (always?) include a separate stereo track which may or may not be truly 96kHz/24-bit. I'd wager many of them have merely been upsampled, since remastering costs money. And hey, most people would be unable to tell the difference anyway, so why not! ;)

*BD/HD-DVD would be good for what? Lossless multi-channel music perhaps, but that's about it. An hour is, more or less, the de facto standard for album length, so there's really no need for so much space. And just about no one could use the discs as is (a HDMI 1.3 equipped amplifier would be required to decode lossless audio, and those things are incredibly expensive right now).

Also, I'll take a Red Book CD with zero copy protection over the draconian DVD-A/BD/HD-DVD any day. Or SACD, which has basically lived out its usefulness (uselessness really).

Phew.
DXR_13KE 5th October 2007, 17:22 Quote
$222,000? that is enough to buy a house......

what are these guys trying to do? scare of clients? as long as the RIAA and MPAA are alive or doing what they are doing i will never buy a album or a movie that has their influence.

for the sake of God she was not selling the copies..... and everyday in millions of places around the world that is what happens.... are the RIAA and MPAA blind?
devdevil85 5th October 2007, 19:29 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheArticle
"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song," Paiser said."
That's a F***ing load of S**t!

Personally, the only people that illegally download music are people that either:

A) Don't have the money to spend on every song they want/listen to
B) Feel like they deserve a free high-quality listen (none of this 64kbps 10-second per song bulls**t) before buying an album
C) Want prices to drop to reasonable prices before justifying a purchase
D) Wouldn't buy music even if they had the money

I honestly want to know how many people would ACTUALLY give in to legally obtaining music if (hypothetically) every method for obtaining music illegally was unavailable.....

Answer that RIAA and stop wasting your time with people that illegally download music and save that money by dropping prices to reasonable prices!
wharrad 5th October 2007, 22:33 Quote
Ach, I hate it when people use the term theft/stealing or illegal in these cases. I can't really believe it was used in court.

The definition of theft and stealing is to take something from someone. i.e. I take your car, you no longer have it. The fact you no longer have it or use it is the theft... Making a copy of my car is NOT theft because I can still use mine.

It's merely a civil case, not criminal, hense the fines not imprisonment.

As for the copying of the CD to your Mp3 player. Yes, that's 'illegal'. Interesting Sony saying that though - I'm not completely sure how else you get music on a Sony Mp3 player.

Also, up until not too long ago the WHOLE of the internet and ALL computers were 'illegal' too because when you play music, watch videos, open software, look at a webpage... just about anything... a copy is made on your RAM, on your monitor, through the sound card... hell, even every server and switch (with cache) in the link along the way!

Interestingly, if you ever own a CD player (or minidisc) with 'anit-shock' protection, turning that on is 'illegal' because you're making a copy from the CD.

Anyone else want to play the 'guess where the next copy could be' game?! :)

As for the stopping recording things off the TV. Well, in the UK that is 'legal', as long as it's only for 'Time Shifting' reasons. But because the tape doesn't destroy itself the moment it passes the heads, then watching it would be 'illegal'.
HourBeforeDawn 6th October 2007, 03:25 Quote
wow that sucks but it could have been a lot worse $222,000 versus 3.6mil but either way sad sad day, but I dont know how do you pick a jury that wont be bias in any way or form in the matter, also 4hrs to come to a decision sounds like they had there minds pretty much up before they debated the girls fate :(
r4tch3t 7th October 2007, 07:33 Quote
Bit of a misprint I think.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Article
It sounds like, if the RIAA had its way about it, we would have to purchase a CD album to play in our stereos and another copy of the album to play on our digital music players and another copy of the album to play on our computer, and a charge for every time you listen to the album, and when you have the album playing where others can hear it another charge for each and every person that hears it.
**** the RIAA. Music is too expensive, I like the idea behind the Radiohead album. May just have to get it (Might have to ask the GF if I can use her credit card)
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