So the trial has closed for a second time. What's going to happen this time? I suspect the jury will find her guilty, and fine her a exorbitant amount of money. Last time the RIAA was awarded a lot (over $200,000). Whatever it is, it would be a hefty sum for a single mother. The big question is, did she do it? Well, maybe.
The RIAA lawyers have shown that music was available, and downloaded from her computer. The Kazaa account was clearly set up in her name. No one can contest that. It used her preferred screen name. But what confuses me, is that the content of the shared folder was heavy on Death Metal. No one seems to think that Ms. Thomas is a fan of such acts. Many other tracks were on CDs that she already owned. So who was using the account? My money is on the former live-in boyfriend. That theory was, in fact advanced by the defense.
So then why was her username used? I think I have a theory, and it's a sad reality. People don't understand computers. In fact, they're often afraid of them. People will do anything a computer tells them to. That's why the fake antivirus pop-up have become such an effective method of getting people to install malware. I imagine, her former bo used Kazaa on her PC. She didn't know what it was, and signed in. When presented with boxes to fill in, many people will.
The uninitiated might have just thought Kazaa was a media player of some sort. Don't get me wrong, she may have used Kazaa to download music just like the boyfriend did. But did she even know what she was doing? How do you determine blame in a situation like that? How can you know who set up the share? Or who was behind the keyboard that night that Media Sentry downloaded the files?
Okay, so maybe we say she should have known better. Granted. Everyone SHOULD know enough about computers to know when something fishy is going on, but they don't. How about if she's found guilty they pick a reasonable fine? She's on trial for sharing 24 songs. How about she pay the RIAA for the cost of the 24 CDs she would have presumably had to buy to otherwise acquire those songs? Lets assume about $16 per CD... that works out to $384. Hell, throw in a penalty for having "stolen" (more accurately, made a copy of) them. She pays double. That's $768. That's fair, that's what the RIAA is owed. Do you feel like hundreds of thousands is fair? Have you ever let a friend make a copy of a CD? You too may owe the RIAA $10,000 per track.
While I can ony hope she isn't destroyed by the verdict, I'm not hopeful.
Update - Wow... I'm just shocked, and frankly angry. She was found guilty and ordered to pay $1.92 million. That is fucking unconstitutional. How can 24 songs add up to that kind of fine? How? The guilty verdict isn't a surprise, but the fine of $80,000 per song is unbelievable.
This is a woman of limited means, she can't ever pay this. The RIAA knows that. They just want this huge verdict to leverage a settlement, and to set presidence. If she continues to fight, and all her motions/appeals fail, I wonder how much the RIAA will actually get out of her.