RIAA appeals mistrial in Jammie Thomas case

Capitol v. Thomas, the infamous copyright infringement case against a Minnesota woman who made copyrighted material available on Kazaa five years ago, ended in a $222,000 victory for the RIAA...that was thrown out.

A few weeks ago, the district court Judge who presided over the Thomas case retracted the verdict and declared the case a mistrial on the grounds that the jury had been falsely instructed about the culpability of those simply "making files available", where no evidence showed that any downloads had taken place.

Judge Michael Davis declared that a new trial was necessary because Jury Instruction No. 15 (which said that making a copyright sound recording available to others on a peer-to-peer network) was "manifestly erroneous."

The Recording Industry Association of America (representing the plaintiffs) has petitioned Davis saying, "Either now, or after a full retrial, the September 24 Order will be appealed...The 'making-available' question at issue in the September 24 Order was and is a pure question of law. It presents no questions of fact, but is based entirely on the meaning of a federal statute, as interpreted by various courts, executive agencies, and Congress. It is not an issue left to judicial discretion."

The group's statement continues, "As the case currently stands, the Court, parties, and a jury will have to prepare and participate in a second trial on the Defendant's liability and damages. The trial will require substantial resources, as every witness except the defendant will be traveling from out of state. And if the Eighth Circuit affirms the Court's September 24 Order, the parties will simply proceed with that second trial, having eliminated the most substantial issue that either side would have for later appeal. However, if the Eighth Circuit reverses the Court's September 24 Order, there will be no need for a second trial."

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