The Jammie Thomas Case Heats Up Again

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The Jammie Thomas Case Heats Up Again

Fri Jun 12, 2009 @ 01:29PM PST

By Eriq Gardner


Piracy 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. 

It's been a while since we checked in on the case, but this week, there's been a flurry of action as the case enters a retrial. Even though the RIAA has declared it would be backing away from its aggressive anti-filesharing litigation strategy, this is one case they won't let go. There's too much at stake.

Jammie Thomas-Rasset —she's now married— has hired a legal prodigy to defend her. Kiwi Camara, who graduated Harvard Law School at age 19, stepped into the fold after the defendant's last lawyer begged off

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.

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The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter, Esq. blog focuses on how the entertainment and media industries are impacted and influenced by the law. It is edited by Matthew Belloni with contributions from veteran legal reporter Eriq Gardner and others. Before joining The Hollywood Reporter, Belloni was a lawyer at an entertainment litigation firm in Los Angeles. He writes a column for THR devoted to entertainment law. Gardner is a New York-based writer and legal journalist. Send tips or comments to Matthew.Belloni@thr.com

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