The beat goes on in the Recording Industry Association of America's legal battle against Jammie Thomas-Rasset.
Attorneys for the RIAA appealed federal judge Michael Davis's July decision overturning an earlier court ruling penalizing Thomas-Rasset $1.5 million dollars in fines for downloading 24 songs.
Davis ruled that the original $1.5 million penalty against Thomas-Rasset was "appalling" and lowered it to $54,000.
Former City Pages staff writer Nick Pinto chronicled her experiences in a February cover story. We caught up with Thomas-Rasset after Davis' ruling in July, and she told us that her attorneys hope to take the case to the Supreme Court. With Thursday's appeal, the RIAA took one step closer to the highest court in the land.[jump]
The case against Thomas-Rasset has gone to trial three times over the course of nearly six years. In its original attempt to recoup damages from Thomas-Rasset, the RIAA asked a jury to penalize her $150,000 per song she downloaded.
A jury levied a $1.5 million dollar fine against Thomas-Rasset after the last trial, which she appealed on the grounds that the fine total is a violation of her civil rights because they're "disproportionate to any actual harm" caused to the record companies.
Judge Davis agreed this past July, which the RIAA is now appealing.
According to court documents, the RIAA is asking the Court of Appeals to rule on three questions that might stretch this saga out even longer.
First, they want a court to review Davis' ruling that Thomas-Rasset's file-sharing didn't count as "distribution" of songs for profit.
The RIAA also wants the appeals court to rule on whether the original court made a mistake in instructing the jury to consider file-sharing as "distribution" -- and if they did make a mistake, to determine whether a new trial is warranted.
Finally, the review challenges Davis' assertion that the fines against Thomas-Rasset violated her due process rights.
A ruling could come in the fall, which either side will be able to appeal again. Thomas-Rasset expects this case to drag on for three or four more years.
RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth declined to comment on the appeal. Thomas-Rasset could not be immediately reached for comment.
- Jammie Thomas-Rasset, music download martyr, gets penalty reduced to $54,000
- Jammie Thomas-Rasset: The download martyr
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