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Judge denies RIAA appeal in $222,000 case

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Judge denies RIAA appeal in $222,000 case

Chicago (IL) – The Recording Industry Association of America has only one file sharing case left to go to trial, and a federal judge has denied its appeal: Months ago U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of Minnesota declared a mistrial in the Jammie Thomas case, thus nullifying a $222,000 award against the women for sharing 24 songs on the Kazaa network.

The case was declared a mistrial in 2007 when a judge concluded that merely making files available on a peer-to-peer network does not qualify as copyright infringement and that he jury was instructed in error.

The RIAA immediately sought to appeal and the judge rejected the decision, for the same reason, declaring the previous trial a mistrial.

Davis felt that actual the distribution of copyrighted music must be proven, and that the RIAA is responsible for proving that the music shared by Thomas was downloaded by other individuals. The RIAA claimed that determining this was nearly impossible.

A retrial for the Thomas case is scheduled for March 9, 2009.

Appeals for mistrials require the approval of the trial judge.

The RIAA announced recently that it would no longer be filing new cases, but would instead begin to partner with ISPs in attempt to shut off Internet service to individuals who repeatedly violate copyright laws. However, the RIAA conceded that it would continue to try cases still in the pipeline.

In the past five years, the RIAA sued more than 30,000 individuals for making copyrighted music available on the internet for others to download. Judges have had conflicting opinions as to whether actually distributing music or simply making it available is a basis for a copyright violation.

The majority of the RIAA’s cases have been settled out of court for a few thousand dollars.