The Confluence of Online Dating, Copyright Law and Child Pornography

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All brought together in the RIAA’s legal campaign against unauthorized music downloading. From Wired.com:

Is 30-year-old Jammie Thomas of Minnesota also a Kazaa user named Tereastarr, who allegedly downloaded and shared copyrighted music?

The Recording Industry Association of America says she is, making her liable for perhaps millions of dollars in damages in the first RIAA copyright case to go to trial. The recording industry lobbying arm first adopted its zero-tolerance piracy policy and began suing thousands on infringement allegations four years ago. The bulk of the cases have settled, been dismissed or are pending.

According to testimony here Tuesday, Tereastarr is the username that Thomas uses on Match.com, on her e-mail addresses, and on web site logins. The RIAA put on compelling evidence that the Tereastarr on the Kazaa filesharing network, who allegedly shared 1,700 digital music tracks, is also Thomas, a Native American single mother of two who works as an administrator at a nearby tribe here.

The RIAA’s witnesses testified that the internet protocol address assigned to Thomas by her ISP the night of Feb. 21, 2005 was the source of the shared songs on the Kazaa network. The RIAA also put on evidence that the cable modem used that night was registered to her. Also, the username of Tereastarr was logged into Kazaa using that IP address and modem that evening, according to testimony. And the RIAA points out that Thomas had her computer hard drive replaced some time before turning it over in evidence.

“She gave that to us so our experts could inspect it,” RIAA attorney Richard Gabriel told jurors.

But will nine of 12 federal jurors, all that is needed, vote to find Thomas liable for copyright infringement and as much as nearly $4 million in fines? Regardless of all the expert testimony and the forensics, the industry cannot demonstrate that Thomas was physically at the computer that evening in question.

“Did you people actually observe defendant infringing?” defense attorney Toder asked Jennifer Pariser, Sony BMG’s anti-piracy chief, who took the stand for about 90 minutes.

Pariser did not directly answer. “It’s very clear to us …that she infringed our sound recordings,” she testified.

Tracks by Janet Jackson, Green Day, Guns ‘N Roses, Journey, Destiny’s Child, and others are at issue in the case. The industry is basing its lawsuit on 25 shared files, although Tereastarr allegedly distributed as many as 1,700 songs.

Jurors often convict perverts for downloading child porn based on the same type of forensic evidence being produced in the Thomas case here. This case might answer whether civil jurors hearing that type of evidence will find an internet user liable for copyright violations. …

Read the rest here. (Note that the defendant is also named Thomas! It’s an FLP hat trick!)

–Ann Bartow

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