The 1.9 million dollar fine issued against Jammie Thomas-Rasset came as a big surprise to me since I hadn’t been following the case. Then I read the six part coverage of the trial at Ars Technica starting with, Jury selected in Thomas retrial: shockingly law-abiding. If I had read those articles before the verdict the fine would not have surprised me. Frankly I’m surprised the defense lawyers didn’t settle the case earlier given what came out at trial.
Much of the media coverage of this case has once again mistakenly called this a case of prosecution for downloading. It was no such thing, it, like all the other cases that I’ve looked at, was about file sharing. Jammie’s IP address was caught sharing files via KaZaA.
MediaSentry presented its evidence of having caught the tereastarr@KaZaA user sharing files; the company downloaded complete copies of 11 songs from that user and grabbed the metadata on nearly 2,000 more. Source: Sony lawyer: $150K damages per song “certainly” appropriate – Ars Technica
My advice to everyone, if you are sharing copyrighted music via a file sharing program/network and you get a notice from the RIAA lawyers, take the settlement, it is tiny compared to the fines you get from losing at trial. Jammie was offered a settlement for 5 thousand dollars when they first caught her IP address sharing.
If you’re positive you are not sharing music but receive an RIAA notice, stop using the PC and get experts on the case immediately. It is possible for the RIAA investigators to be fooled by spoofing or other people tapping into your LAN but that is a rare enough occurrence that a court is not likely to side with you unless you provide strong evidence.