Zombie P2P case, RIAA v Thomas-Rasset, rises again

By Richi Jennings (@richi ) - August 23, 2011.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset (AP)
The RIAA is yet again appealing the damages against Jammie Thomas-Rasset for her P2P copyright infringement of 24 songs. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers wonder if this will ever end.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Why Arabic is Terrific...

Confused? enigmax explainifies:

Previously...Judge Michael Davis ruled that by simply ‘making available’ music tracks on a file-sharing network...an individual is not guilty of distribution. ...[T]he RIAA challenge[s] that assertion.


In 2007 a jury hit Thomas-Rasset with a $222,000 verdict. She appealed and in 2008...Judge Davis ruled that the fines were “disproportionate.” In 2009 the case went to re-trial before a new jury and ...Thomas-Rasset was ordered to pay...a massive $1.92 million in total. But this amount was...slashed to $54,000.


In November 2010 the appeal of the retrial was heard and...[t]he jury decided that Thomas-Rasset had to pay a...total of $1.5 million. It was this decision that was overruled by...Davis last month. He described the amount as “appalling”.   

Casey Johnston notes that the Fat Lady has not yet sung:

The reduction in the amount of the award spurred the RIAA to question whether...the Copyright Act [was] misinterpreted...specifically, the word "distribution." ... Thomas-Rasset...[has] been fighting the same copyright battle since 2007 over 24 songs she shared over...KaZaA.


Now the RIAA is appealing the case in the...Eighth Circuit in St. Louis, saying that the court's failure to classify [the offense] as a "distribution" under [section] 106(3)...wouldn't deter her...[from] violating the Copyright Act again. The RIAA is hoping to vacate the jury's verdict...which would result in a third trial.   

But Mike Masnick has no time for the industry body:

RIAA's war against reasonableness continues. ... Now is when the case finally starts to get more interesting. ... The RIAA is actually challenging three parts. ... All three are interesting legal questions.


The RIAA is scared to death [of] any sort of reasonable awards...because they're still under the ridiculously misguided belief that absolutely insane judgments...will scare people into no longer sharing files. ... But the RIAA is not known for thinking logically.


[A] key fighting point...is whether or not a copyright holder needs to prove actual distribution to show an infringement...or if merely "making available" constitutes distribution.   

 And it seems, to Matthew DeCarlo, that "the RIAA isn't even after money at this point":

Instead, this case is largely about setting a precedent for future suits.


Its appeal is focused on rebuking the court's failure to classify Thomas-Rasset's actions as "distribution". ... The filing also challenges the court's citation of due process...(Davis noted that $54,000 is the maximum award).   

   And Finally...
Why Arabic is Terrific
[hat tip and more discussion: Hacker News]

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Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: itbw@richij.com. You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

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