Minnesota Woman Faces Third Conviction of Illegal File Sharing

By Tracey E. Schelmetic November 05, 2010

Sharing a few dozen songs with your friends could cost you big: as in, $1.5 million big.

For the third time, a Minneapolis woman, Jammie Thomas-Rasset, has been found guilty of illegal song file sharing, and ordered to pay the plaintiff, the Recording Industry Association of America, $1.5 million. Thomas-Rasset has been found guilty twice before: the first trial ordered her to pay $220,000. Thomas-Rasset appealed, subsequently losing a second judgment, and was that time ordered to pay $1.92 million. Appealing once again earned her the latest judgment of $1.5 million. Prior to each case, the RIAA offered Thomas-Rasset an opportunity to settle for $25,000 and an admission of guilt. Thomas-Rasset has repeatedly declined, apparently certain she could beat the charges.

The RIAA charged that Thomas-Rasset shared more than 1,700 songs on the file-sharing site Kazaa, but it sued over only 24 of them. RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth said the association made several attempts to settle with Thomas-Rasset, at first for $5,000, but Thomas-Rasset refused.

During the course of her epic legal battles, Thomas-Rasset has been busy trying to raise money for her repeated appeals. According to an article by Rick Carnes, President of the Songwriters Guild of America, “Over the course of the three trials, Ms. Thomas-Rasset claimed she was not the person who illegally shared the music, then admitted later she destroyed evidence. She tried repeatedly to blame others for her theft but in the end the evidence was overwhelming that she was the culprit. After being found guilty, instead of taking responsibility for her actions, she has continually attempted to portray herself as a victim in these trials even going so far as opening a website to sell thongs, T-shirts, and sweatshirts, the profits of which would go to support her defense fund.”

Apparently, Thomas-Rasset plans to decline Carnes' advice. She doesn't plan to pay the damages as her attorneys continue to argue the amount is unconstitutional, she told the Associated Press after the judgment.

“I can't afford to pay any amount. It's not a matter of won't, it's a matter of 'I can't',” said Thomas-Rasset on Thursday. “Any amount that I pay to them is money that I could use to feed my children. Any amount that I pay to them is money I could use to clothe my kids, and pay my mortgage so my kids have a place to sleep.”

Under federal law, the recording companies are entitled to $750 to $30,000 per infringement but the law allows the jury to raise that to as much as $150,000 per track if it finds the infringements were willful.

Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TechZone360. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.

Edited by Jaclyn Allard

TechZone360 Contributor

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