Monday, June 22, 2009

What's next for Jammie Thomas-Rasset?; Ars Technica, 6/21/09

Nate Anderson via Ars Technica; What's next for Jammie Thomas-Rasset?:

"Jammie Thomas-Rasset has at least six options for moving forward after the massive $80,000 per song judgment handed down against her. We take a look at the possibility of paying the award, settling, declaring bankruptcy, reducing the award, appealing the case, and changing the law...

Judge [ Michael] Davis feels the same way and has already "implored" Congress to "amend the Copyright Act to address liability and damages in peer‐to-peer network cases such as the one currently before this Court."

University of California law professor Pam Samuelson, an expert on statutory damages and copyright law, also called for reform in a fascinating paper released in April 2009.

In reference to the first Thomas-Rasset judgment, Samuelson concluded, "Some jurors in the Thomas case wanted to award $750 per infringed song, while others argued for $150,000 per song; why they compromised on $9250 per song is a mystery. In today’s world where the average person in her day-to-day life interacts with many copyrighted works in a way that may implicate copyright law, the dangers posed by the lack of meaningful constraints on statutory damage awards are particularly acute."

One key suggestion for reform: allowing judges to revise damage awards to below the current $750 minimum threshold in such cases.

Had the amount been a "mere" $750 a song, for an $18,000 total fine, the Thomas-Rasset case would have offered little incentive to reform the law. But when the first of the RIAA's 30,000+ actions goes to trial and the plaintiffs emerge with a $1.92 million award... legislators may take notice."

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