Woman Loses Appeal Against RIAA

In a move that could set a precedent for other peer-to-peer file traders resisting settlement with the music industry, a federal appeals court late Friday refused to overturn a $22,500 judgment against a Chicago woman who was caught downloading music illegally.

The court said that Ceclia Gonzalez's activities were not permitted under copyright law and compared her actions to shoplifting. She argued that she downloaded the songs to decide which she would buy later, and claimed she owned over 250 compact discs.

However, Gonzalez apparently never deleted the songs she didn't buy, and the court pointed out she could have been sued for over 1,000 songs found on her computer rather than the 30 the RIAA accused her of downloading.

The music industry had proposed to settle for $3,500, but Gonzalez refused. A federal judge later ordered her to pay $750 for each song downloaded, which Gonzalez appealed.

The victory in appeals court is one of the first in the country for the music industry, which has begun to aggressively pursue Internet piracy in the courts.

Gonzalez could attempt to take her case to the Supreme Court; however, based on the high court's past actions, its unlikely that they would hear the case or rule in her favor if they did.

"A copy downloaded, played, and retained on one's hard drive for future use is a direct substitute for a purchased copy," the appeals court judges wrote in their decision Friday.

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