Woman Loses Music Download Case. Ordered to Pay $220,000

Posted on October 4, 2007

RIAACBS News reports that 30-year-old Jammie Thomas has been found guilty of sharing copyrighted music online by a federal jury. Jammie Thomas has to pay $220,000 in damages. Thomas says she didn't have a Kazaa account but the record companies said she used Kazaa to share the music files.
Jurors ordered Jammie Thomas, 30, to pay the six record companies that sued her $9,250 for each of 24 songs they focused on in the case. They had alleged she shared 1,702 songs online in violation of their copyrights.

Thomas and her attorney, Brian Toder, declined comment as they left the courthouse. Jurors also left without commenting.

"This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK," said Richard Gabriel, the lead attorney for the music companies.

In the first such lawsuit to go to trial, six record companies accused Thomas of downloading the songs without permission and offering them online through a Kazaa file-sharing account. Thomas denied wrongdoing and testified that she didn't have a Kazaa account.
CNET calls it a key victory for the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the trade group that represents the U.S. recording industry. However, the article also says the case may not be over.
This is likely not the end of the case, according to Fred von Lohmann, a staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group that advocates for Internet users. Late Thursday evening, von Lohmann said that he had heard from several copyright attorneys who had expressed interest in representing Thomas should she want to appeal the decision.

"There are a lot of copyright lawyers who would be interested in helping her if she wants to continue this," von Lohmann said. "I'd imagine that she doesn't want to pay $200,000. We'll see what she wants to do."
The $220,000 comes from the record companies suing her $9,250 for each of the 24 songs she is alleged to have shared illegally online. USA Today notes that damages could have been set as low as $750 per song. That would have made a huge difference - $18,000 in damages instead of $220,000.