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Brainerd woman found guilty of illegal music downloading

A U.S. district court jury found a Brainerd woman liable for illegal music file sharing Thursday afternoon in the first such lawsuit to go to trial. The jury found that Jammie Thomas had willfully committed copyright infringement by downloading and sharing all 24 songs for which the record companies had sought damages, awarding them $222,000.
The companies accused Thomas of downloading the songs without permission and offering them online through a Kazaa file-sharing account. Thomas denied wrongdoing and testified that she didn’t have a Kazaa account.
Thomas and her attorney, Brian Toder, declined comment as the left the courthouse.
According to the Star Tribune, when asked if they planned to appeal, Toder said “we haven’t talked about it.?
The Associated Press calls the ruling a win in a “key fight.? Record companies have filed about 26,000 lawsuits since 2003 over file-sharing, which has hurt record sales because it allows people to get music for free instead of buying it in stores. Many defendants have settled by paying the companies a few thousand dollars.
Copyright law sets a damage range of $750 to $30,000 per infringement, or up to $150,000 if the violation was “willful.? Jurors ruled that Thomas’s infringement was willful but awarded damages of $9,250 per song.
The RIAA says the lawsuits have slowed down illegal sharing, even though music file-sharing is rising overall. The group says the number of households that have used file-sharing programs to download music has risen from 6.9 million monthly in April 2003, before the lawsuits began, to 7.8 million in March 2007.
The record companies involved in the lawsuit are Sony BMG, Arista Records LLC, Interscope Records, UMG Recordings Inc., Capitol Records Inc. and Warner Bros. Records Inc.

The Star Tribune:

The Associated Press: