File Sharing Defendant Seeks New Trial
October 16, 2007

Jammie Thomas, the Minnesota woman who was recently fined $222,000 for sharing music files on the Kazaa network, is asking a judge to overturn the verdict. On Monday, Thomas' attorneys filed a motion asking for a new trial on the grounds that the damages awarded by the jury are excessive and unconstitutional, according to CNet News. However, if U.S. District Judge Michael Davis refuses to grant a new trial, the attorneys have asked him to at least lower the damages to between zero dollars and $150. They argue that lower damages are appropriate because "any award above and beyond actual damages or harm suffered is purely punitive." The jury awarded the record companies in the lawsuit $9,250 per song for 24 songs that were illegally shared, but Thomas' lawyers argue that they suffered actual damages of less than $151.20 in all.

"We seek to resolve this case in a fair and reasonable manner," the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) said in a statement. "It is unfortunate that the defendant continues to avoid responsibility for her actions. We will continue to defend our rights."

CNet notes that some legal experts have argued for a while that statutory damages are out of line with reality. Because copyright law sets the amount of damages at between $750 and $30,000 per infringement, someone sharing 2,000 songs can face between $1.5 million and $60 million in damages. This is why defendants in other RIAA peer-to-peer cases have argued that copyright's statutory damages are unconstitutional. Judges do have the legal authority to lower the damages to less than the $750 limit, but only in the rare case of so-called "innocent" infringement, where the defendant "was not aware and had no reason to believe that his or her acts constituted an infringement of copyright," says CNet.

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Manny Simon
VP/Adult Formats,
Republic Records

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