[JPL] RIAA loses another one

Dr. Jazz drjazz at drjazz.com
Sun Oct 5 12:23:38 EDT 2008

        September 25th, 2008

  RIAA loses $222K verdict against Jammy Thomas

Posted by Richard Koman @ September 25, 2008 @ 5:14 AM

The $222,000 verdict against Jammy Thomas for copyright infringement by 
P2P is no more. U.S. District Court Judge Michael Davis dismissed the 
verdict <http://government.zdnet.com/images/thomas-ruling-1.pdf> (PDF), 
saying it was based on the faulty “making available” theory of 
distribution. Thomas will face a new trial, in which the RIAA will have 
to prove actual distribution.

The decision means the RIAA now has zero wins at trial, Wired notes. 

RIAA’s “making available” theory would hold that someone has distributed 
copyright material merely by creating the potential for distribution. 
Under the RIAA’s theory, it need not show actual distribution. The judge 
soundly denied this legal reasoning:

    If simply making a copyrighted work available to the public
    constituted a distribution, even if no member of the public ever
    accessed that work, copyright owners would be able to make an end
    run around the standards for assessing contributor copyright

And Judge Davis went further, “implor[ing] Congress to amend the 
Copyright Act to address liability and damages in peer-to-peer network 

    While the Court does not discount Plaintiffs’ claim that,
    cumulatively, illegal downloading has far-reaching effects on their
    businesses, the damages awarded in this case are wholly
    disproportionate to the damages suffered by Plaintiffs.

Thumbs up from EFF:

    EFF applauds Chief Judge Davis’s thorough rejection of the RIAA’s
    effort to rewrite copyright law and thereby avoid the trouble of
    actually proving any infringement has occurred. And we
    wholeheartedly endorse the court’s call to amend the Copyright Act’s
    oppressive damages provisions.

One important tidbit, little noticed yet, pointed out by Excess 
“distribution to an investigator, such as MediaSentry, can constitute 
unauthorized distribution.”

I will offer an in-depth walk-through of the decision shortly.


Dr. Jazz
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