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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

MPAA Joined RIAA In Jammie Thomas Case

Jammie Thomas, a mother of four, known worldwide for being sued by the Recording Industry Association of America for sharing several tracks, currently has to struggle to win not just against the trade group representing the country’s recording industry, but also against the movie industry that decided to join RIAA’s appeal.


The notorious Jammie Thomas case is better known as the “file-sharing mom” case, which was launched back in 2007, when Jammie Thomas was found guilty of sharing two dozen songs through Kazaa and was fined $222,000. A year later she appealed the verdict and the judge decided that the imposed fines were really disproportionate to the damages suffered. However, in 2009 the case was brought to the court again and the defendant lost it. She was ordered to pay $1,92 million, and even in 2010, after she filed for a re-trial, a jury found her guilty again, awarding the music industry with $1,5 million. Finally, the $1,5 million fine turned into $54,000 thanks to the judge saying that the massive damages were really monstrous and shocking. The judge ruled that the award of $1.5 million for illegally distributing 24 tracks for personal use is at least appalling. This award was considered too severe and oppressive, being wholly disproportioned to the offense and obviously unreasonable.

However, now the music industry has filed a brief with a hope to reinstate the initial $222,000. They say that neither the first jury’s $9,250 per case of infringement award nor the third jury’s $62,500 per case award can be more substantial than the Constitution allows. Suddenly, this week the Motion Picture Association of America also filed an amicus brief to join the music industry in the case. They point out that the last court ruling improperly requires rights holders electing statutory damages to prove the actual damages, while demanding such proof could considerably alter well-established ground rules for copyright litigation.

In addition, the movie industry argued that the judge was wrong when ruling that “making a work available” can’t be a part of the distribution right protected by the law. The MPAA claimed it is an international copyright norm having particular importance in our age where third parties illegally make available protected content to millions of Internet users throughout the world.

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