We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message
78,785 News Articles

Judge orders re-trial for illegal file sharer

Judge says his instructions to jury were "unclear"

A US judge has ordered a new trial of a woman accused of copyright infringement after he rejected claims by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) that making music available for download in a shared computer folder constitutes illegal distribution.

Jammie Thomas was sued by a number of record companies last year for allegedly copying a total of 1,702 songs and then making them available for distribution over the Kazaa file-sharing network. The case focused on 24 of the songs, and after a four-day trail, a jury found Thomas guilty of copyright infringement and ordered her to pay $222,000, or $9,250 per song, to the infringed parties.

However, District Judge Michael Davis has overturned the verdict, saying that his instructions to the jury were unclear on the question of whether making music available for download by itself constitutes infringement, and has subsequently ordered a re-trial.

The judge said his subsequent examination of the word 'distribution' under the federal Copyright Act and other relevant statutes clearly showed that illegal distribution can occur only if there was actual dissemination of music.

"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 infringement."

Brian Toder, Thomas' lawyer, said he was "very pleased" with the judge's decision to overturn the jury verdict. "The biggest effect of his decision is going to be on damages, more than liability," Toder said.

"I think it's fair to say that it is unlikely we will prevail in a new trial," Toder added.

See also: First illegal game-sharer prosecuted in UK

Computerworld.com

Visit Broadband Advisor for the latest internet news, reviews, tips & tricks

Visit Digital World for the latest home entertainment news and reviews


IDG UK Sites

5 things we want to see in Android M: New features and fixes

IDG UK Sites

iPad mini 3 release date rumours: 'iPad mini Air' will be 30 percent thinner than current model

IDG UK Sites

Introducing generation tech

IDG UK Sites

This animated film reveals the importance of designing for everyone