U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis granted a new trial to Jammie Thomas, a woman convicted for illegal file-sharing, citing he made a mistake in her trial.
Last October, Thomas was found guilty of copyright infringement and was ordered to pay $222,000 to six record companies for the 24 songs she shared on the Kazaa
file sharing network.
At the time of trial, Davis instructed the jury that simply making the files available was enough to find Thomas guilty. Yesterday, however, he stated that he made a mistake, and that the law requires that actual distribution be shown.
Davis also made note that the 24 songs were about equal to three CDs costing less than $54, making the penalty 4,000 times the cost of the CDs. He is asking Congress to look at copyright laws in order to discontinue extreme awards against individuals in future cases.
“Unfortunately, by using Kazaa, Thomas acted like countless other Internet users,” Davis wrote. “Her alleged acts were illegal, but common. Her status as a consumer who was not seeking to harm her competitors or make a profit does not excuse her behavior. But it does make the award of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages unprecedented and oppressive.”