Single mother loses big in music piracy case

Posted by Humphrey Cheung

Minneapolis (MN) – 30-year-old Jammie Thomas lost big in the nation’s jury decision for a file sharing case.  The single mother of two was found liable in sharing 24 songs from six record companies and has been ordered to pay statutory damages of $220,000 or $9250 per song.

Record labels Sony BMG, Arista Records, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings, Capitol Records  and Warner Brothers Records all claimed that Thomas downloaded and shared 1702 songs, but concentrated their case on the top 24 songs.  Computer security experts, testifying on behalf of the record labels, said Thomas set up a Kazaa account under the username “Tereastarr” and shared the songs.  They even said the username was traced back to an Internet Protocol address used by her computer.

Like many other file sharers targeted by the Recording Industry Association of America, Thomas first received a demand to settle for a few thousand dollars.  She refused to settle and claimed that it wasn’t her that downloaded the songs.

Perhaps the most interesting fact is that the original hard drive was never used to prove or disprove the charges.  A few weeks after receiving RIAA’s demand letter, Thomas replaced the drive because it had become, as she claimed, defective.

In the end the jury didn’t buy this excuse and only took five hours on Thursday to decide Thomas’ fate.  While the damages are significant, the jury could have awarded far greater damages of up to $150,000 per song.  The jury could have also awarded punitive damages on top of the $220,000.