By Eriq Gardner
Over the last few years, the RIAA has filed more than 30,000 lawsuits against individuals for allegedly distributing copyrighted music on peer-to-peer networks. Only one has made it all the way through a trial and verdict, and last September, Minnesota federal judge Michael J. Davis stunned many by declaring a mistrial in that particular case
At that time, Judge Davis ruled that he had improperly advised the jury that the plaintiffs need not prove actual distribution of copyrighted materials, only that the defendant, Jammie Thomas, "made available" copyrighted music.
Now that she has new lawyers—including our favorite Harvard Law School professor, Charles Nesson
—the team has been going on the offensive, questioning whether the plaintiffs own the copyrights they're claiming and hoping to undermine the legality of the agency, MediaSentry, that the industry had hired to collect evidence on file-sharers. The posture has been aggressive, and the RIAA has countered with motions
to preclude such arguments at trial.
So far, things are going the RIAA's way in the preliminary phase of this retrial. Most importantly, Judge Davis denied the request to disallow evidence
from MediaSentry and won't allow "fair use" as a defense either, because Thomas waited too long to make the argument.
Things don't look so great for Jammie, but her lawyers are already plotting their next case. Camara and Nesson say they will soon file a $100 million class action lawsuit
against the RIAA. Some of the arguments that can't be pursued in the Jammie Thomas case may reappear on another stage.