So far, the Recording Industry Association of America has brought more than 35,000 lawsuits against alleged illegal file-sharers. But in the only case to go to trial to date, a federal jury on Thursday found 32-year-old Minnesota mother Jammie Thomas-Rasset liable for file-sharing, fining her $1.92 million for allegedly downloading 24 songs.
Thomas-Rasset was found guilty in an earlier case in which she was ordered to pay $222,000 for the same songs. The judge in that case declared a mistrial, and Thomas-Rasset opted for a new trial instead of settling with the Recording Industry Association of America, unlike the 30,000-plus others who've been sued by the organization.
According to Wired, Thomas-Rasset, who has proclaimed her innocence all along, was fined $80,000 for each song in Thursday's ruling. In the latest case, she testified that her four children might have used her computer to access the file-sharing service Kazaa. In the earlier trial, she believed someone had hacked into her WiFi connection, even though she did not own a WiFi router.
The original suit against Thomas-Rasset, then a single mother of two, was brought in 2006. While the Copyright Act allows for a fine of up to $150,000 per infringement, the average payment in the thousands of settlement cases that have settled out of court is around $3,500. In late 2008, after five years of launching highly unpopular suits against music consumers, the RIAA abandoned the tactic and announced that it would instead work with Internet service providers to curb the practice.
Among the half-hour worth of songs that Thomas-Rasset allegedly purloined are Guns N' Roses' "Welcome to the Jungle" and "November Rain," Janet Jackson's "Let's Wait Awhile," Gloria Estefan's "Rhythm Is Gonna Get You," the Goo Goo Dolls' "Iris," Journey's "Faithfully" and "Don't Stop Believing," Sarah McLachlan's "Building a Mystery," Aerosmith's "Cryin'," Linkin Park's "One Step Closer," Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me," No Doubt's "Bathwater" and "Hella Good," and Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills."
Thomas-Rasset testified during the trial that she hadn't even heard of the now-shuttered Kazaa before the case and that her children or ex-boyfriend could have downloaded the songs without her knowledge.
"The only thing I can say is 'Good luck getting it from me,' " Thomas-Rasset said, according to the Star Tribune. The Minneapolis newspaper described her as looking tearful at first, then resolute in response to the verdict from the jury, which deliberated for five hours before reaching its conclusion. Her lawyer said he is considering an appeal or possible settlement in the latest case.