Thursday, June 18, 2009

Verdict in Capitol v. Thomas-Rasset

Jury has found Jammie Thomas-Rasset willfully infringed 24 sound
recordings. Awarded $1,920,000 #riaa


Jadeic said...

Burning Down The House

and frankly I don't give a toss if that is copyright infringemnet.


Anonymous said...


Jonathan said...

Can't believe it, it's in total contradiction to previous decisions that mean that making available is not copyright infringement. Did the plaintiffs provide actual evidence of downloading?

Anonymous said...


Probably the jury deliberated from the viewpoint of "Somebody did it, and who? Hmm, well, somehow Thomas seems most likely." But as you noted, maybe it didn't even happen. OOPS!

I would have expected Defendant's lawyers to have made that much clearer to the jury -- where exactly is the it that somebody supposedly did?


David Donahue said...

Sadly I could kind of see this coming.

The fighting here was really not about what could be proven (although it should have been), but what made the most likely explanation.

Frankly when the jury heard any evidence about Mrs. Thomas-Rasset from Media Sentry (it should have all been excluded due to improper gathering) it was a very bad sign.

The fact that a bunch of people had access to her computer also probably didn't change the jury's minds much (regardless of the law), it just sounds like a weaselly excuse.

Heck, I was kinda swayed by the fact that the Kazaa username used in the sharing was a term personally significant to Mrs. Thomas. The fact that many others knew this term and she could easily have been framed sounds like another weaselly excuse.

I think what we're seeing here is the outcome of previously lost legal fights over what evidence could be presented, the standard for proof and the theory for calculating damages.

Since I truly believe Mrs. Thomass-Rasset innocent there has to be something wrong, unfair or inaccurate in the evidence or the standards for proof.

Since so much damage money was awarded, there has to be something wrong or unfair in the method of calculating those damages here or in the law itself.

I suspect it's the law itself that didn't protect Mrs. Thomas-Rasset and let her and us all down.

To prevent this injustice for others in the future, I suspect that we need to do more than good courtroom oratory and put up more than a good defense.

We need to change the law to make it much harder for such injustices to prevail.

Anonymous said...

David, if it looks weaselly to say "maybe someone else used my computer", that really means Defense did a horrible job of explaining it.

Since installing KaZaA takes 1 minute, that's all it would take anyone in her apartment to put Thomas's machine on the KaZaA network, until the hard drive broke, that is. Assuming whatever happened happened at Thomas's apartment, there were several people with enough access to have installed KaZaA, yet Thomas was singled out only because she paid for the internet and the KaZaA account is in her name.

And we should not forget other possibilities that are not unreasonable and cannot be ruled out -- suppose someone installed KaZaA and another person later moved music onto the computer. Who, then, is guilty of copyright infringement? Who even knew about it, if it even occurred? How can you have innocent infringer defense if you don't even know you infringed? Or, what if her kids or ex husband installed KaZaA? Do you think they'd just admit doing so? I don't.

The fact is, we have no witnesses and no good evidence either, so all the jury did was speculate as they saw fit. What a disgrace.

If Thomas's testimony changes daily, perhaps it's because she doesn't know what happened, and can only speculate! Or maybe she used KaZaA, I dunno, but we don't have any good reason to believe that yet, nor are we likely to later.


Reluctant Raconteur said...

I have to agree with David here. A successful defense was dependent on exclusion of evidence rather than the facts in that evidence. I am shocked at the size of the award but not the verdict. When the plaintiffs were able to present both almopst all their evidence the verdict was almost a foregone conclusion.

The key to understanding the verdict is iirc, the standard for a civil case is 'preponderance of evidence' not 'beyond reasonable doubt'. The defense never presented any evidence of alternatives actually happening, just tried to establish reasonable doubt that other alternative were plausable. And IMHO weakened even that by focusing on the possible instead of the probable.