Of the $1.92 million verdict against Jammie Thomas-Rasset for sharing 24 songs, note that federal copyright law allows $750 to $30,000 per infringement AND also allows the jury to raise that to as much as $150,000 per track if it finds the infringements were willful. A spokesperson for RIAA stated: this verdict is a reminder of the clarity of the law.
Well, not exactly clear. As AP reported:
U.S. District Judge Michael Davis, who heard the first lawsuit in 2007, ordered up a new trial after deciding he had erred in instructions to the jurors. The first time, he said the companies didn't have to prove anyone downloaded the copyrighted songs she allegedly made available. Davis later concluded the law requires that actual distribution be shown.
AP also noted that "24 songs" is not a completely accurate quantification of what was asserted to have happened:
The recording companies accused Thomas-Rasset of offering 1,700 songs on Kazaa as of February 2005, before the company became a legal music subscription service following a settlement with entertainment companies. For simplicity's sake the music industry tried to prove only 24 infringements.
Reynolds argued Thursday that the evidence clearly pointed to Thomas-Rasset as the person who made the songs available on Kazaa under the screen name "tereastarr." It's the same nickname she acknowledged having used for years for her e-mail and several other computer accounts, including her MySpace page.
Reynolds said the copyright security company MediaSentry traced the files offered by "tereastarr" on Kazaa to Thomas-Rasset's Internet Protocol address — the online equivalent of a street address — and to her modem.
He said MediaSentry downloaded a sample of them from the shared directory on her computer. That's an important point, given Davis' new instructions to jurors.
The defense to the screenname accusation was straight out of Law & Order: Sibley argued it would have made no sense for Thomas-Rasset to use the name "tereastarr" to do anything illegal, given that she had used it widely for several years.