updated 10:55 am EDT, Fri June 19, 2009
Thomas guilty in retrial
The long-standing legal battle between Jammie Thomas-Rasset and the Recording Industry Association of America closed another chapter, as the federal retrial found the defendant liable for willful copyright infringement, with the jury ordering her to pay a whopping $1.92 million in penalties. According to a Thursday Ars Technica report, the total damage award of $1.92 million was more than a $1.7 million increase from the amount awarded in the first trial. Thomas-Rasset was found to infringe on 24 copyrights held by the four major record labels, with each infringement costing the defendant $80,000.
The verdict and amount of damages came as a shock to both Thomas-Rasset and her lead lawyer, Kiwi Camara. Camara believed a guilty verdict would carry with it a minimum $750-per-song penalty. Thomas-Rasset said the RIAA is unlikely to collect the amount, however.
"Good luck trying to get it from me... it's like squeezing blood from a turnip," she said.
How strongly the RIAA and its lawyers will pursue the amount is also up in the air, as the campaign is already facing much criticism from the public for its practices.
A spokesperson for the industry association, Cara Duckworth, was at the trial and said RIAA is still willing to come to a settlement, though details on such an agreement were not forthcoming. Camara is aware of the settlement offer but said he is willing to file motions if his client wants to continue fighting. The defense can argue about the constitutionality on the amount of the damages and they have the option of filing an appeal. Thomas-Rasset herself has said the "war" between her and RIAA is not over, but did not clarify what that means exactly.
Camara intends to continue with his class-action lawsuit against RIAA that is based on the association allegedly violating federal anti-racketeering laws by pressuring the accused into settlements rather than face costly jury trials to defend themselves.