This week's cover story, Download Martyr, tells the story of the five-year legal battle between Brainerd resident Jammie Thomas-Rasset and some of the country's biggest record labels.
Though she denies committing any crime, Thomas-Rasset has been found liable for sharing 24 copyrighted songs on the internet. Last November, a Minneapolis jury said Thomas-Rasset owes the industry $1.5 million.
Yesterday Cara Duckworth Weiblinger, the vice president for communications at the Recording Industry Association of America, offered a rebuttal to the article.
Here it is:[jump]
We recently saw Nick Pinto's piece on the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case (Jammie Thomas Rasset: The download martyr, 2/16) in your paper. It's unfortunate we have to settle for writing a response when we would have certainly loved the opportunity to speak to Nick about this case.
While we appreciate that Nick tried to portray our side perhaps using other accounts and even our critics' sentiments, since we didn't receive a call regarding this story (although we did assist him with a different request), it's seemingly apparent there was little interest in getting the full story. That there's no doubt Jammie Thomas-Rasset lied to us under oath several times. Or that one of her former boyfriends testified against her in the first trial, saying he had clearly seen her use her computer to download music, even when she was denying it outright. Or that when she initially called our settlement center and proclaimed that we'd never find anything, it's because she knew she had recently replaced her hard drive. Or that her own expert witness that she hired testified against her, saying she had lied to him about providing the correct hard drive. Or that perhaps if she had even mentioned to us the possibility of the downloader being one of her kids or boyfriend years ago when we first reached out to her about this case, that we might not have had to be here in the first place. Or that the $25,000 settlement we offered her after the second trial would have gone to charity and not, as she says, to "these labels." We would have happily explained all this if given the chance.
Any insinuation that we stopped filing new lawsuits in 2008 because of her case is flat out WRONG. It had nothing to do with her. It was about finding a more effective approach to alert and educate individuals about their illegal behavior through working with ISPs and sending notices to their subscribers (an approach, I might add, that might not have worked on Ms. Thomas-Rasset since she WAS alerted twice via instant messages about her illegal activity but chose to ignore them and continue, thus resulting in the lawsuit). If there ever was a case that would have changed our minds about our lawsuit campaign, it certainly would NOT have been hers given the overwhelming evidence and her blatant disrespect for artists, the legal system and the law.
For what it's worth, I'm the "spokesman" mentioned in the article who was on hand after the second trial that proffered how we've been willing to settle since day one. That wasn't simply lip service. We've offered to settle for far, far less than what each jury has rendered against her (not to mention when this case started it was less than $5000). She has repeatedly stated she won't pay us a penny. What has been confirmed time and time again is that Jammie Thomas-Rasset is an egregious illegal downloader who downloaded more than 1700 songs and shared them with millions of anonymous strangers on p2p service Kazaa, hoping not to get caught. She then lied about it, took to the press to proclaim the unfairness of the judicial system against those who egregiously break the law, implicated her children and boyfriend long after it was legally appropriate to do so, and is now saddled with another large judgment against her. After the third trial, online news site CNET did a wrap-up of the case (Did Jammie Thomas case backfire on file-sharers?, 11/7/10) and concluded the following:After four years of legal maneuvering and three separate trials, the evidence suggests that Thomas-Rasset's case was the wrong one to challenge the nation's copyright laws.
It took three juries of her own peers to conclude that Ms. Thomas-Rasset was lying (see Wired's interview with a juror from her first trial at RIAA Juror: 'We wanted to send a message', 10/9/07).
I was in the courtroom when Jammie Thomas-Rasset outright laughed at the jury's latest judgment against her and smiled her way out of the courtroom. While we understand the pro bono agreement she has with her attorneys has allowed her the ability to draw this case out as long as possible, it's quite clear she doesn't take this case seriously. Along with artists, producers, engineers, back-up singers, songwriters, and many others within the music community that are profoundly impacted by the kind of music theft Ms. Thomas-Rasset willfully engaged in, we take this case very seriously. And with the large judgments three separate juries of her own peers have now handed down against her, it's quite clear they do too.Cara Duckworth Weiblinger
Vice President, Communications Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) Washington, D.C.