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Brainerd woman going back to court for third time in music downloading case

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Brainerd woman going back to court for third time in music downloading case
Morris Minnesota 607 Pacific Avenue 56267

It looks like there's going to be another round in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset vs. the Recording Industry Association of America fight.

A Minneapolis jury decided in June that Thomas-Rasset downloaded and illegally made available 24 songs for distribution on the KaZaA peer-to-peer file-sharing network. It found her liable for $80,000 for each of the songs.

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Last month, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis called the $1.92 million judgment against Thomas-Rasset "monstrous and shocking" and reduced it to $54,000. He gave the recording industry the option of accepting the reduced damages or scheduling a new trial on the issue of damages.

The recording companies announced today that they want a third trial.

The record companies have twice prevailed in their legal battles with the Brainerd housewife and married mother of four. In the nation's first copyright infringement case to reach a jury in October 2007, jurors in Duluth found Thomas-Rasset committed copyright infringement. Her total liability was $222,000, but Davis threw out that verdict because of an error in jury instructions, leading to the June re-trial.

"We have done everything within our power to resolve this case on fair terms," Cara Duckworth, vice president of communications for RIAA in Washington, D.C., wrote in an e-mail today. "The defendant is someone who knowingly distributed hundreds upon hundreds of unauthorized songs without any regard for those who created them, likely bent on the brazen assumption that she'd never get caught. During both trials she lied about her actions while under oath."

Thomas-Rasset said she didn't lie under oath.

"It's pretty much the same thing I've heard from them since day one,'' she said. "It's no different. It's the same vitriol they've been spewing about pirates destroying their business. Now we get to go back to court where the statutory damages have to bear some semblance to the actual damages and they are scared of that."

Thomas-Rasset said the record companies offered to settle the case for $25,000 rather than go to trial. RIAA said the money would have been donated to a charity of struggling musicians.

But Thomas-Rasset said she doesn't have $2,000, let alone $25,000. She said her husband was laid off from his job and she's the breadwinner for the family of six.

Thomas-Rasset said the main reason she declined the offer is that the recording industry wanted to vacate the court's last order and she didn't want it vacated. "In that order, the judge called the [jury award] monstrous," she said. "They are afraid of that."

The third trial date has not yet been set.

The RIAA -- representing Capitol Records, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, Arista Records, Interscope Records, Warner Bros. Records and UMG Recordings -- sued Thomas-Rasset in 2006.

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