RIAA loses $222K verdict against Jammy Thomas

RIAA loses $222K verdict against Jammy Thomas

Summary: The $222,000 verdict against Jammy Thomas for copyright infringement by P2P is no more. U.

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The $222,000 verdict against Jammy Thomas for copyright infringement by P2P is no more. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis dismissed the verdict (PDF), saying it was based on the faulty "making available" theory of distribution. Thomas will face a new trial, in which the RIAA will have to prove actual distribution.

The decision means the RIAA now has zero wins at trial, Wired notes.

RIAA's "making available" theory would hold that someone has distributed copyright material merely by creating the potential for distribution. Under the RIAA's theory, it need not show actual distribution. The judge soundly denied this legal reasoning:

If simply making a copyrighted work available to the public constituted a distribution, even if no member of the public ever accessed that work, copyright owners would be able to make an end run around the standards for assessing contributor copyright infringement.
And Judge Davis went further, "implor[ing] Congress to amend the Copyright Act to address liability and damages in peer-to-peer network cases..."
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.

Thumbs up from EFF:

EFF applauds Chief Judge Davis's thorough rejection of the RIAA's effort to rewrite copyright law and thereby avoid the trouble of actually proving any infringement has occurred. And we wholeheartedly endorse the court's call to amend the Copyright Act's oppressive damages provisions.

One important tidbit, little noticed yet, pointed out by Excess Copyright: "distribution to an investigator, such as MediaSentry, can constitute unauthorized distribution."

I will offer an in-depth walk-through of the decision shortly.

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  • Her turn now

    I hope she turns around and files a MULTI MILLION dollar suit against the RIAA.

    If "offering a copyrighted work to the public" is a crime, then we must by definition force the closure of all public libraries. . .

    This poor woman's reputation and standing have been greatly damaged by this case, not to mention her bank account. The RIAA has relentlessly pursued many of the "least able to pay" with a vengence.
    okc_rn
    • I Wholeheartedly Agree!

      Down with the RIAA! Long live DRM-free digital distribution!

      Record companies are nearing the end of their usefulness... if it ever existed in the first place.

      There is a comming revolution in the music industry, and it will be televised.
      mikefarinha
      • RE: I wholeheartedly agree

        Quote: [i]There is a comming (sic) revolution in the music industry, and [b]it will be televised.[/b][/i]

        Paraphrasing Gil Scott Heron???
        fatman65535
    • It would be nice if she could sue (and win).

      I would love to see the RIAA get taken to the cleaners in a big, big way. I'm not holding my breath, but it would indeed brighten my day. They're a sleaze-bag operation defending sleaze-bag companies by trying to destroy people with little means of defending themselves.

      [i]The RIAA has relentlessly pursued many of the "least able to pay" with a vengence.[/i]

      Well yeah... why wouldn't they? They don't have to be right. Like some other corporations we know and love, they just have to use their financial muscle to steam roll those that have very little.
      shawkins
      • There's method to their madness...

        [b]Well yeah... why wouldn't they? They don't have to be right. Like some other corporations we know and love, they just have to use their financial muscle to steam roll those that have very little. [/b]

        There's a reason why they're going after people who can't fight back. Besides the obvious "shooting fish in the barrel" analogy, there's one thing they're after - a PRECEDENT.

        A legal precedent is as good as law without having the legislature lift so much as a finger to write anything. This is how abortion became legal - Roe V. Wade. Prior to that landmark case, abortion was pretty much illegal in the US. The consequence of that case ruling was abortion was no longer illegal.

        With a legal precedent, it's much easier to go after other "offenders". By going after a "defenseless peon" first, and establishing precedent, it makes it easier to go after bigger fish - especially ones that can defend themselves better.
        Wolfie2K3
    • DRM: Digital Rectal Manipulation! RIAA Hands are Pretty Dirty!

      Putting Malware in Music!!! DRM....isn't that like putting arsenic in the hamburger you throw over your neighbor's fence to stop him from barking? Just a form of baiting and luring your very own neighbors ...er customers into doing a crime, so you can possibly make more money off of them for doing what you lured them to do in the first place. EAT IT! ....object never is to feed your neighbors dog or RIAA to give you music. Object is to catch you eating it or listening to it. Therefore it is Mal-intended in the first place like our dog feeding!!!

      So Yes..... some smart dogs out there decided to sniff out the arsenic laden part and take it out, when it gets thrown over the fence. So hey then it's on their side of the fence so they do with it as they please. Right? RIAA says better not listen to that, cuz it's ours and just because we threw it over there doesn't mean you can consume it without the arsenic!!!

      Slick Deal for them I guess! ....but is DRM itself even legal? And what about OUR "Fair Use Rights" and the Industry's Abuse of those Rights? Assuming WE are all criminals by installing DRM in the first place, is not exactly the best way to treat the very same customers you expect to buy that arsenic infested Music & Movies they're selling us!!!

      We only need to look at Sony, BD+ and their Rootkit Fiasco to understand that for them it's not so much about the Music or Movies, as it is about their ignorant predatory ways in which they love to treat their very own customers!!! ;)

      DRM? ....yes it is a form of "Digital Rectal Manipulation" that abuses OUR rights as Customers that keep them in business in the first place!!!
      i2fun
    • Response

      With respect for your opinion, your public libraries comparison does not hold water. Libraries purchase content for distribution and do not allow the people checking out the content to go and copy the books/materials and continue to pass them down in a multi-level system. If you were the creator of the content, I assure you that you would feel differently. If artists of any type are not allowed to protect their work, we all lose because artists will find another way to make a living.
      rmgc152
      • Libraries

        It is true that libraries do not make material available with the PURPOSE of copying them, however, I have never yet found a library that has attempted to prevent me from using Mr. Xerox's magic machine, or a computer scanner to make myself a copy of the copyrighted work. People have also been known to stand in a bookstore and use their mobile phones to make copies of copyrighted works (I wonder where they get the memory cards big enough to do that).

        Artists do have the right to protect their work and profit thereby, but I would also suggest that with the right comes the responsibility to make that work available for purchase. Certainly I can find Metallica's latest with ease, or the latest movie offering from Hollywood, but have you attempted to find discs by Homer and Jethro, The Flowerpot Men, Crispian St. Peter, and others? You'll be told their is no demand, that they are out of print, pressed out, or whatever excuse the clerk has been told to hand you. If artists (in all fields) want to protect their work, they're going to have to see to it that it is available, or they really have no excuse.
        fionncreagh9
      • That's not true

        I can make a copy of anything I want in the library. It is distribution (generally in exchange for money or other valuable goods) of that copied material that would get me in trouble.

        The actual reason that libraries are not subject to the distribution clause is because they have their own specific exemption from it, so that they may stay open. They are mentioned by name in the statutes to prevent it. But he is correct, the same reason that is given that libraries are allowed to have the content and make it available to the public is the same reason that the RIAA's stance just won't work: making available and distribution are simply not the same thing. Libraries do not make copies and hand them out, which would be distribution, they make loans in the form of media, and they do so by making that media available to the public.

        There's nothing wrong with protecting what is yours, either real property or intellectual property. But that's completely not the point. What is the point is that there is something seriously wrong with not having to prove your case in court. Innocent until proven guilty is the very foundation of our legal system, and if they don't have to prove that she actually violated the law (meaning distributed material) then they have no standing to make any type of claim against her.

        And we won't even get into the ridiculously high fines imposed that go WAY beyond the constitutional limit for damages.
        laura.b
        • Right On - DRM is a good solution.

          You are so right. Sony's root kit hack was abuse. It was so foul, it is part of the reason why people are making these insane statements against all forms of DRM.

          DRM could actually be used to facilitate and regulate copying media in a way consistent with the copyright-holders license. For example, DRM can permit a publisher to allow customers to make 100 legal copies. If the customer wants to make 1000 legal copies, they could pay a bit more.... And customers who don't want to make any copies could be given the lowest price.

          DRM is an absolute miracle for the creative community when it is used properly. It liberates the writer, composer, artist and entertainer. It allows them to sell directly to the public without a middleman -- a studio, a publishing company, a TV network, etc...

          DRM-bashers are starting to sound like they are advocates of the major record labels -- spreading propaganda against DRM as a way of retaining their slave-like control over recording artists. Or, they are just frustrated communists who secretly advocate piracy or all content. They continually distort and mischaractertize how DRM works.

          Because consumer demand for music and movies is passionate -- DRM will continue to emerge as the best techical solution to copyright protection on downloaded content. And folks -- we should not tolerate these inaccurate comparisons of DRM to "putting poison in dog food" because if consumers are aware of the restrictions and privileges that are placed on the material, they are not "lured" or "tricked" at all. Rather, they are empowered.

          Go DRM! Mark my words -- DRM will win. RIIA's counterproductive role will eventually be exposed for what it is -- just like Donna Rice's insane campaign to prevent the .sex top-level domain initiative (which was designed to segregate adult content).

          Note: DRM does not have to be bullet proof to be effective.
          author209
          • NO WAY

            DRM is not the solution. Please do a little more research on the different forms of DRM. It is quite possible for companies to produce CD's and DVD's that will have adverse effects on some equipment. If you play one of these disk and your equipment fails or is actually permanently damaged, do you think Sony would replace your equipment? DON'T THINK SO!! The statements below are from an article from PC Magazine.

            "Broadcasters and publishers have lobbied for the creation of a mandatory broadcast flag?a signal hidden in television and other broadcasts that shuts down any device that attempts to record a program."

            "Other DRM systems work by trying to confuse or disable equipment that may do undesired things with content. For example, some audio-CD copy protection systems work by creating a disc that is intentionally faulty. The CD player in most stereo systems will ignore the errors, but they could throw computers, which are more finicky, into a tizzy."

            ok back to me typing now (just to be clear with PC Mag.)

            DRM definately won't work. It will only cause an uprising of even more hackers to find more ways to defeat copy-protection and create more and more piracy, and will only cause legitimate consumers to be more wary of what they spend their hard earned "bucks" for. As it stands right now, I can take my CD of DARK SIDE OF THE MOON and play it in any equipment I own. DRM would propose that I buy it for one solution, i.e. just for my car stereo, and if I tried to play it in my computer, my computer could be crashed or "locked-up".

            In other words all of this crap stems strictly from the internet's wide reaching arms and ease of use. My opinion is I don't care whether I bought it from Wal-Mart, or bought it from an on-line instant download service, as long as I bought it, I should have the right to have no limitations put on where and what equipment I use to listen / view it on. I don't know about you, but I have many different places with different system for listening to my CD's. I don't sit in front of my PC only just to hear music.

            The long and short of this is, Don't punish legitimate consumers for something that is IMPOSSIBLE to stop...

            Piracy will never go away. It is like life itself, it will find a way, but please don't punish legit consumers!!!
            kyn_67
          • DRM IS a JOKE!

            Only the most technologically illiterate are stymied by DRM!

            I'm not talking about expensive "Pirating" software! I'm talking about simple ISO extraction (Free) software and the knowledge of how to use it and strip the DRM section.

            It's also important to know which files can simply be renamed!!

            I'm not telling anyone the ins & outs of the process! Do some simple research and experiment!

            Embed the DRM free results into "High crypto Hermetic Stego" and share your family photos with all those who wish to see little Johny in the sandbox! RIAA IS IRRELEVANT. (Don't use your own family photo's)Duh!

            This is seriously high-grade Military encryption and RIIAA, or ANY government is out of luck! (Just stick with non dictionary, non computer generated pass phrases of at least 32 characters). Remember to completely erase your original photo with secure wipe!

            I am NOT a supporter of illegal distribution of copyright material! Sending my granddaughter a copy of my favorite "Out of distribution" music is another story!

            Retired software engineer.
            RS9
          • For it to be effective

            "Note: DRM does not have to be bullet proof to be effective." <br><br>
            Wrong! for it to really be effective it has to be bullet proof. DRM is like HIPAA in the fact that it's impossible to fully implement. There is no way to prevent reverse-engineering of software and as long as pirates can reverse-engineer they can defeat DRM. If it takes them $1000 to defeat the DRM on one CD and they then pirate and sell 10,000 copies of that CD they only need to make 10 cents per copy to break even. Problem is they're not limited in the number of copies they can sell. The only thing that DRM protects effectively is material that's not likely to produce much revenue to begin with.
            alaniane
      • Make a Living

        Make a Living or live like a potentate?
        arrowrod
      • Libraries and Artists

        With respect on your response. The "artists" you
        allude to are horrendously overpaid, the studios make
        a windfall, the producers get a big chunk of it, and
        the royalties are endless as long as their piece gets
        airplay.

        How can you state that "artists will find another way
        to make a living" ? Many of the new millionaires are
        nothing more or less illiterate street kids with a
        rhythm or beat that appeals to others of like mind(s).
        Grexican
    • Not so fast...

      [b]If "offering a copyrighted work to the public" is a crime, then we must by definition force the closure of all public libraries. . . [/b]

      There's a BIG difference between P2P "offering copyrighted works to the public" and what the library does. The libraries offer books and other media for LOAN. You get 2 weeks or whatever term the library's lending policy is and you're supposed to return said material to the lending institution. If you don't return it on time, you get fined. At some point, the library likely bought the copy of the media you're borrowing. Or if the media was donated to the library, the donor generally paid for it. Either way, the copyright holder got something for their work.

      With a P2P app, you make full copies of the copyrighted material and the copyright holder never sees a dime. And if that person shares the materials, and other people copy it, then the problem is exacerbated exponentially. This is what's freakin' the RIAA and MPAA out.
      Wolfie2K3
      • RE: Not so Fast.

        How much does the Library charge to borrow a book? So They obtained a copy writed Item. And are letting people read/listen/view it for free? The artist got paid once, and everyone else gets to see it for nothing. HMMM..Sounds like the guy that paid to go into a movie and recorded it on his camcorder.. and uploaded it for everyone to download doesn't it? I haven't paid to download anymovie yet. Oh, and for the record. There are copying machines in Every Library, and I have never had anyone ask me to stop photo copying a book. But if the RIAA and the MPAA have there way. You will not be allowed to buy a newspaper and give it to your friend to read cause it will be against copywrite. Or what if you buy a cd and you are listening to it at your place and your friend comes over and listens too.. are you saying the RIAA should obtain moneies from him for listening to it??? Where will it end. At some point you have to tell the RIAA enough is enough.
        bluesd
      • "And if that person shares"

        "and (if) other people copy it"

        And if a frog had wings he wouldn't bump his rear end every time he jumps.

        And if dis ting, dat ting, or de udder ting... dis is "what's freakin' the RIAA/MPAA out."

        Nothing but corporate panic, because their business model is dying.
        Ole Man
  • Spot on

    While, as a musician, I respect the need for copyright protection to a degree, I also have no respect for an organization that takes copyright money for themselves rather than giving it back to the musicians.

    The RIAA makes their case but charges disproportionate penalties, and keeps the money for themselves rather than giving it to the musicians they claim to be protecting. They are simply propping up an outmoded business model.

    I am very glad to hear that President Bush opposed the "copyright Gestappo" legislation. I hope Congress will take the hint.
    bfpower
    • Forget Bush..! It's his successor we need to be worried about...

      Bush will be gone in about 4 months. What we need to know is where McCain and Obama stand on the issue.
      Wolfie2K3