RIAA appeals Jammie Thomas-Rasset's damage reduction

By on August 22, 2011, 7:29 PM

Last November, a jury ordered Jammie Thomas-Rasset to pay the RIAA $1.5 million for downloading 24 songs -- $62,500 per track. The dispute reached a short-lived conclusion a month ago after judge Michael Davis slashed the award to $54,000, calling the original fee "appalling" and "oppressive." Discontent with the federal court's decision verdict, the RIAA has filed an appeal today in the US Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in St. Louis.

This should come as no surprise, considering the RIAA told Ars Technica that it disagreed with the decision at the time and admitted it was considering further litigation. Likewise, Thomas-Rasset's lawyer, Kiwi Camara, acknowledged that the recording industry would likely appeal, noting that he was ready to file a cross-appeal when the time came.

It seems the RIAA isn't even after money at this point. Not only has Thomas-Rasset refused to pay, but she surely doesn't have a $54,000 buried in her backyard -- much less a million bucks or more. Instead, this case is largely about setting a precedent for future suits in addition to serving as a potential reminder and deterrent for would-be pirates.

In fact, the RIAA is prepared to drag the dispute into yet another trial. Its appeal is focused on rebuking the court's failure to classify Thomas-Rasset's actions as "distribution" under 106(3) of the Copyright Act, which would vacate the jury's initial verdict and land the parties back in court. The filing also challenges the court's citation of due process (last month, Davis noted that $54,000 is the maximum award consistent with due process).




User Comments: 32

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gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Sucks to be a precedent setting case Jammie.

Distribution? That's bad news, I thought this was just possession with intent to share.

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

RIAA should be dismantled. They operate like a group of legal criminals; making someone pay $1.5million is no way to handle the piracy situation. .02

treetops treetops said:

I don't get how they can charge someone so much more then the product they steal is worth.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Treetops said:

I don't get how they can charge someone so much more then the product they steal is worth.

Well, if you stop looking at the CD that you own as "yours" and look at it as a license to listen to the tracks on that CD for your personal use, then the desire for larger damages may make more sense.

Always leech, never share. It's the sharing that gets you into trouble, because the RIAA is not looking at the fact that you downloaded one song. They're looking at it that you shared that one song you downloaded, and then X amount of people downloaded it from you, and so on exponentially. So in reality there could be thousands or tens of thousands of people that are listening to the song that you uploaded, and the RIAA translates that into lost sales. (I don't agree with the RIAA, this just explains their logic as to why she should pay more than 2-3K per song.

KG363 KG363 said:

24 songs? How about fining him market price? I think $31.20 is more reasonable. Just charge that to everyone who downloaded it instead of having the one guy pay for all of his uploads. That seems more fair to me.

---agissi--- ---agissi---, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I guess the EPA does slap major fines on violators as a deterrent.

Guest said:

'Well, if you stop looking at the CD that you own as "yours" and look at it as a license to listen to the tracks on that CD for your personal use, then the desire for larger damages may make more sense. "

If that was the case then any lost or damaged media should be replaced free of charge through out the life span of the company that owns the licence, Since you " bought a licence", to the particular IP. The media it's on is simply a delivery system NOT the actual licence as owner of that licence, you have every right to that IP, regardless of the time or circumstances.

But we all know that does not occur, the RIAA and the actual industry cares for nought, the people who make the music nor the end user, they are all tools for them to graft money from. $15 for a CD and allot of the time the musician sees $.05 of that.. or nothing at all. I think Radiohead made more of their on line album then they did off the preceeding 'retail' release.

gwailo247, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Guest said:

If that was the case then any lost or damaged media should be replaced free of charge through out the life span of the company that owns the licence, Since you " bought a licence", to the particular IP. The media it's on is simply a delivery system NOT the actual licence as owner of that licence, you have every right to that IP, regardless of the time or circumstances.

I was just explaining why they feel they're entitled to more, and why you're not allowed to make copies of that CD you bought, not trying to justify why they do it, so don't jump down my throat.

If you're feeling so eloquent and lawyerly, go file an amicus curiae.

Guest said:

If the point is to indeed ruin this person's entire life by forcing perpetual poverty upon her, why don't RIAA just go for the death penalty and get it over with? This is all about scare tactics, after all. RIAA knows they can't even catch everybody, just like cops know they can't catch every criminal out there. All they got working for them is fear.

Seriously. The punishment should fit the crime. $54.000 for downloading 24 songs is insane! The RIAA makes me sick! Make this person pay for the downloaded music, add a reasonable fine (based on the income of the individual) and some community service. I think that's more than enough punishment for such a trivial little thing. A person with "normal" income will end up being a homeless drifter hobo if forced to pay millions of dollars. The RIAA must think hobos are good for society. Or maybe they just don't really care about anything other than money and punishment.

If the RIAA wants to make an example of someone, then do so with the people who host servers and seed and whatever. I'd say there's a lot more guilt resting there than with the teenager sitting at home, being offered everything for free at the click of a button. The way I see it, it's like giving a bottle of vodka to an alcoholic and expecting him/her to never drink it simply because that would be legally wrong. Who cares about that when nobody's watching? It's not bloody murder, this here. It's not even stealing, it's just copying. I think it's more like an addiction. You can't blame the addict when the dealer is right up your face all day, every day. In this case, the dealer is the computer with the internet connection, or the ISP or the internet, etc.Take your pick. 'Entrapment' is another good word to use here. If you drop your burger on the floor, the dog's gonna eat it.

slamscaper slamscaper said:

gwailo247 said:

Well, if you stop looking at the CD that you own as "yours" and look at it as a license to listen to the tracks on that CD for your personal use, then the desire for larger damages may make more sense.

Always leech, never share. It's the sharing that gets you into trouble, because the RIAA is not looking at the fact that you downloaded one song. They're looking at it that you shared that one song you downloaded, and then X amount of people downloaded it from you, and so on exponentially. So in reality there could be thousands or tens of thousands of people that are listening to the song that you uploaded, and the RIAA translates that into lost sales. (I don't agree with the RIAA, this just explains their logic as to why she should pay more than 2-3K per song.

Totally understand where you're coming from here. However, it should be noted that even when a user is leeching via the bittorrent protocol, he or she is also uploading at the same time. A leecher may not offer the complete file but they're always uploading the pieces they already have.

My point is that the RIAA can still nab you for sharing even if you leech. Yeah, it will be less likely, but still very much possible.

I'd advise anyone to just stay away from P2P in general, but If you're dead set on sharing via bittorrent, I'd recommend following a few guidelines. Firstly, use encryption (or better yet, a proxy). While it's not full proof, it will go a long way to ensuring your privacy.

You should also stay away from content that's just been released, whether it's movies, music, or whatever. You're just asking for trouble if you're sharing movies that are still actively being shown at the theaters.

Use your head, don't let the RIAA or MPAA make an example out of you. On second thought, if you were using your head, you wouldn't be pirating in the first place.. Would you?

Guest said:

I bet the artist see's none of this money, buying music is a scam its self, Trent Reznor proved this by giving away his last cds due the the music companies ripping the artist off, so who is really in the wrong here?

mosu said:

Can't read correctly, slamscaper or scamscaper?Working for RIAA?

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

"The way I see it, it's like giving a bottle of vodka to an alcoholic and expecting him/her to never drink it simply because that would be legally wrong. Who cares about that when nobody's watching? It's not bloody murder, this here. It's not even stealing, it's just copying. I think it's more like an addiction. You can't blame the addict when the dealer is right up your face all day, every day. In this case, the dealer is the computer with the internet connection, or the ISP or the internet, etc.Take your pick. 'Entrapment' is another good word to use here. If you drop your burger on the floor, the dog's gonna eat it."

I agree with your sentiment, but not your examples. Only freewill and willpower control whether or not you download illegally. Are you strong enough to resist temptation or do you give in?

Darkshadoe Darkshadoe said:

The RIAA remind me of those people that go out and buy a neck brace right before their day in court to try and gain sympathy.

This whole case should have been held in small claims court. I could see a $5000 judgment to pay for the songs and damages, but $54K? Sure, it is better than the millions she would have had to pay but these guys aren't even close to being realistic.

Guest said:

Darkshadoe, I may have used a somewhat exaggerated bunch of examples, but I think you got my point. And I agree with you. It's of course a matter of do or don't. It's a choice. We all have free will.

What I'm thinking is, you have all these teenagers sitting at home at their computers all day. They have no money and their parents get pissed off every time they ask for some. Given the chance, why wouldn't they turn to piracy? And once turned to piracy, when/how/why would they stop?

red1776 red1776, Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe, said:

The way I see it, it's like giving a bottle of vodka to an alcoholic and expecting him/her to never drink it simply because that would be legally wrong. Who cares about that when nobody's watching? It's not bloody murder, this here. It's not even stealing, it's just copying. I think it's more like an addiction. You can't blame the addict when the dealer is right up your face all day, every day. In this case, the dealer is the computer with the internet connection, or the ISP or the internet, etc.Take your pick. 'Entrapment' is another good word to use here. If you drop your burger on the floor, the dog's gonna eat it.

I think you should be up for the Darwin award in the reasoning catagory.. you poor , poor victim

It's easy, its not yours..Don't take it!

'Entrapment' is another good word to use here. If you drop your burger on the floor, the dog's gonna eat it

So people who take 'bait cars ' are victims as well?...jesus christ already.

The RIAA remind me of those people that go out and buy a neck brace right before their day in court to try and gain sympathy.

This whole case should have been held in small claims court. I could see a $5000 judgment to pay for the songs and damages, but $54K? Sure, it is better than the millions she would have had to pay but these guys aren't even close to being realistic.

I agree, lets have a proportionate response here to lifting a few songs.

Tomorrow_Rains said:

So what happens if she doesnt pay it. shes made a criminal?

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

it looks like some moral torment & not necessarily the best way to go. I agree that those who are caught should be punished for in the 1st place they knew it's wrong or at least for being overconfident enough & never tried to secure themselves.

the price asked, even if calculated upon 'manque a gagner' is still too much & wouldn't result in the convicted to pay but to keep fighting. i would agree with a 4 digits fine for recidivists while 1st timers should be fined at a 3 digit level.

Anyway piracy should be stopped, it has begun & no one on either side is doing things right. Like me a few had the willpower to do so & now we have only legal stuffs & happy & proud about that.

cheers!

Tomorrow_Rains said:

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

it looks like some moral torment & not necessarily the best way to go. I agree that those who are caught should be punished for in the 1st place they knew it's wrong or at least for being overconfident enough & never tried to secure themselves.

the price asked, even if calculated upon 'manque a gagner' is still too much & wouldn't result in the convicted to pay but to keep fighting. i would agree with a 4 digits fine for recidivists while 1st timers should be fined at a 3 digit level.

Anyway piracy should be stopped, it has begun & no one on either side is doing things right. Like me a few had the willpower to do so & now we have only legal stuffs & happy & proud about that.

cheers!

But see, The thing is that, When the RIAA takes you to court, They're not suing individuals over licenses in order to play the content. They're suing you over physical property which was downloaded from what could possibly be your location, although many times cases have been thrown out stating that an IP ADDRESS does directly label 1 person. So by you bringing morality into law, and trying to bring both into context, i just brough up two definitive solutions to these law suites. Either The RIAA adapt to the current market, or people will become more aware and pose negligent, having the case thrown out of court at the RIAA's expense. I wish i could link you to some previous cases. Just remember, Morality and Laws don't go into context, Because downloading something digital is new age, and morals are old aged at best.

tengeta tengeta said:

These morons really need a new PR department. Thats assuming they even have one...

Darth Shiv Darth Shiv said:

kg363 said:

24 songs? How about fining him market price? I think $31.20 is more reasonable. Just charge that to everyone who downloaded it instead of having the one guy pay for all of his uploads. That seems more fair to me.

But.. but... but... digital distribution is worse than manslaughter and murder!!!

Isn't it?...

Guest said:

And how do they know that the people who downloaded off the said person didnt already own a legit version of the music.

Tomorrow_Rains said:

I bet none of you knew that "RIPPING" Cd's And Dvd's to your computer is Illegal, and is punishable by blah blah blah blah blah, according to the FBI.

I bet none of you knew that lending a CD or DVD to a friend or family member is Illegal, and is punishable by blah blah blah blah blah, According to the RIAA, MPIAA, FBI.

I bet none of you knew that telling the plot of a movie in a forum or on a blog is illegal

Should i continue?

or has it gotten ridiculous enough yet?

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I don't think that she's to blame if other people download her files. Sure, they probably can't go after those other people with great ease. If I left paint on my door step and others used that paint to graffiti signs in the neighborhood, I'm not responsible am I? So she "made available", but she argued that she wasn't aware of how the software worked.

I just really wish that I was on that Jury, so I can stick my 2 cents in this case, and show the RIAA that the people have the power.

TJGeezer said:

Where's Anonymous when you need them? Since lawmakers are in the pockets of the extortionists, some other way of fighting back is needed.

Anybody know if distributors trying to avoid association with the RIAA need to pay them a fee even to distribute their intentionally independent artists' music? That was one extortionate scheme they were lobbying for and they do own a LOT of lawmakers.

Richy2k9 said:

hello ...

@ Tomorrow_Rains : I agree to your answer

What is sad is that the one being sued could themselves be victims of Internet hi-jacking by malicious neighbors (poor security), abuse by other family members & friends, etc...

some media can be copied & ripped as long as it is for backup purposes & never distributed but most don't give this right because of the risk.

copyright infringement is a delicate issue, & i really wish someday a really good & fair solution is found.

cheers!

Guest said:

Here's the problem. None of you seem to be paying attention. They're going to appeal the case merely to set a precedent. They don't ever expect to get a dime from this person, trust me. But having said that, once a precedent is set, it opens the flood gates for tens of thousands of smaller justifiable litigations each with a guaranteed pay out which would be more affordable to those being sued. Like traffic tickets. Set the precedent, start collecting.

I'm no fan of the RIAA, but I also have a problem with the endless horde of ballsy anonymous internet dimwits who claim that everything should be free on the web, or that they refuse to pay for something, because it's too expensive, or not any good. Not one of them would dare to walk out of a Wal-Mart with a CD hidden in their pants, that's for sure.

We need to find the middle ground, where we can pay the artists for their labors and allow users their maximum "Leasing" rights to the music they've purchased. But ripping songs and putting them up on file sharing sites is bad all around. Doesn't fit any business model I know of and no one profits from it.Plus, It's tantamount to theft.

example1013 said:

Tomorrow_Rains said:

I bet none of you knew that "RIPPING" Cd's And Dvd's to your computer is Illegal, and is punishable by blah blah blah blah blah, according to the FBI.

I bet none of you knew that lending a CD or DVD to a friend or family member is Illegal, and is punishable by blah blah blah blah blah, According to the RIAA, MPIAA, FBI.

I bet none of you knew that telling the plot of a movie in a forum or on a blog is illegal

Should i continue?

or has it gotten ridiculous enough yet?

Ripping is legal. It used to be illegal, but they changed that awhile ago. Lending a CD is legal as long as they don't also rip it. Libraries do it all the time.

Plot descriptions? Yeah, I think that might be illegal, but then in Minnesota so is crossing state lines with a duck on your head.

Guest said:

anonymous needs to do something to the MPAA and RIAA...

Guest said:

after reading this article i just thought to myself..."how inhuman" how do they expect a women with kids to pay $1.5m, what kind of example is this setting? totally pathetic....

Guest said:

The movie and recording industry is seriously broken and completely greedy. I'm surprised that people are putting up with the bully abuse tactics. With millions of people on torrents, it's going to be for them to plug the hole. And if you look at what the big studios are going like releasing Epix tied to cable company subscription channels, it make you wonder why the government isn't doing anything about this BIG BUSINESS collusion. There was a light of glimmer with Netflix but with Liberty/Starz screwing them (and us) over, no wonder people are flocking back to torrents... The FTC is sleeping at the wheel or too scared to do something?

Guest said:

I think what many are missing is the costs for the law suit and the companies should not be expected to have to sue each individual that cheats. Making it really large reduces the number of people that cheat.

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