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Federal jury assesses $1.92 million damages in music file-sharing case

[JURIST] A federal jury in the US District Court for the District of Minnesota [official website] found Thursday that a Minnesota woman had violated music copyrights and assessed damages at $80,000 per song for 24 songs, totaling $1.92 million. In a retrial, Jammie Thomas-Rasset was found to have willfully violated copyright law in sharing songs on the file-sharing program KaZaA [website], which has since become a legitimate music purveyor. Following the announcement of the verdict, Thomas-Rasset told the media that she was not going to worry about the judgment, saying that she is incapable of paying that amount [AP report] as a mother of four. On Tuesday, Thomas-Rasset delivered testimony in the proceedings in which she maintained her innocence [ARS Technica report] and claimed to have never heard of the file-sharing program before the case. Additionally, she admitted that the hard drive turned over to authorities was not the same as the one installed in her computer during the time she allegedly shared the songs in question, contrary to two previous depositions in which she said differently. Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) [trade website] spokeswoman Cara Duckworth maintained that the association is willing to settle [press release] the case.

In December, the RIAA said that it would discontinue its controversial policy [JURIST report] of suing suspected file-sharers and instead will seek cooperation with major Internet service providers to cut off access to repeat offenders. The recent proceedings against Thomas-Rasset were a retrial of a previous judgment against her, granted by a federal judge on the grounds that the court erred by instructing the jury that making the music available on the KaZaA network was enough to violate the Copyright Act and that the $222,000 in damages [JURIST reports] was excessive. In March, another woman being sued by RIAA sought class action status [amended complaint; JURIST report] for a counterclaim [case materials] against the RIAA, several recording companies, and data investigation company MediaSentry [corporate website] for allegedly using unscrupulous tactics as part of an RIAA anti-piracy campaign.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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