Dueling download theories on first day of Jammie Thomas trial

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Dueling download theories on first day of Jammie Thomas trial

Tue Jun 16, 2009 @ 11:13AM PST

By Eriq Gardner

The first day in the all-important Jammie Thomas trial has concluded.

In opening arguments, Tim Reynolds, the lawyer representing the plaintiff record companies, said he'd show that the defendant illegally shared songs on the Kazaa network and that illegal downloads take a major toll on the music business. "Record companies are made up of real people,"said Reynolds 

In contrast, Thomas' lawyer Kiwi Camara came up with a simple rejoinder: Her client didn't do it. Camara said the plaintiffs could show that Thomas' computer was used for illegal downloading, but couldn't prove that Thomas herself had conducted illegal activity. Compared to Camara's pre-trial motions wishing to explore the legality of the MediaSentry's data collection, and the ongoing motions over claims of copyright title, the Jammie-didn't-distribute defense is rather simple and elegant.

During cross-examination of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Camara kept hitting the theme. For example, Ben Sheffner reports that when Sony Deputy GC Gary Wade Leak testified, he was "asked for specifics about who Thomas disseminated files to, and how much harm she caused Sony. Understandably, he couldn't offer specifics." 

Leak also accented that damages of $150,000 per song would be "certainly" acceptable

Will the jury buy Camara's implication that it's possible someone else used Thomas' computer to illegally distribute copyrighted music?

Much may depend on jury instructions given at the end of the trial by Judge Michael Davis. Of course, jury instructions were at the heart of why Davis declared a mistrial in this case the first time around. 

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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 [email protected]

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