$222K Illegal Downloading Verdict Tossed

Jammie Thomas of Brainerd, Minn. walks out of the U.S. District Court in Duluth, Minn., Oct. 2, 2007, after jury selection on the first day of her civil trial for alleged music pirating through illegal sharing of song files. Thomas, a 30-year-old mother of two, is the first of 26,000 people sued by the industry whose case has gone to trial. An industry group and three recording companies claim she illegally offered 1,702 songs for free on a file-sharing network. AP Photo/Julia Cheng

A federal judge on Wednesday threw out the verdict against Jammie Thomas, the peer-to-peer network user ordered to pay the recording industry $222,000 for allegedly sharing music online.

U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of Duluth, Minn., declared a mistrial in the case against Thomas, who was charged in October with violating copyright law by making 24 songs available for others to download on the Kazaa network.

Davis set aside the verdict on the grounds that he misguided the jury, telling jurors that simply the act of making a copyrighted song available for sharing amounts to infringement. The judge first indicated in May that he was considering granting a new trial.

In June, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and other consumer and industry groups weighed in, also claiming the jury instructions were erroneous.

The Recording Industry Association of America argued that the jury instructions were valid.

"Requiring proof of actual transfers would cripple efforts to enforce copyright owners' rights online--and would solely benefit those who seek to freeload off plaintiff's investment," RIAA attorney Timothy Reynolds wrote in a court filing.

Thomas is the only individual charged with copyright infringement by the RIAA who has taken her case to trial.

RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy said Davis' decision was not surprising, but the RIAA still had confidence in its case.

"As with all our illegal downloading cases, we have evidence of actual distribution--an assertion this court and others nationwide have made clear constitutes infringement," he said. "We have confidence in the facts assembled against the defendant."
By Stephanie Condon
  • CBSNews

Comments

CBSN Live

pop-out
Live Video

Watch CBSN Live

Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the new 24/7 digital news network. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone.