The eyes of the copyright world will once again be focused on that northern Minnesota burg after a court-ordered settlement conference failed to resolve the Jammie Thomas peer-to-peer infringement case -- the only one of the approximately 30,000 cases filed by the labels against individual p2p users that has actually gone to trial so far.
The first Thomas trial ended in late 2007 with a verdict for the plaintiffs and a $222,000 statutory damages award against Thomas for infringing 24 songs. Thomas claimed that a mysterious lurker had used her wireless network to download the songs, but, as Wired deadpanned at the time:
Thomas’ lawyer, Brian Toder, and RIAA lawyers met privately in a Minnesota federal court for two hours haggling over the case. No conclusion was reached (.pdf). Thomas has maintained she would never settle. A retrial is set for June 15.
“What they wanted to do, my client did not want to do,” Toder said in a telephone interview. He declined to disclose the RIAA’s financial demands.
Expert testimony from an RIAA witness...showed that a wireless router was not used, casting doubt on her defense that a hacker lurking outside her apartment window with a laptop might have framed her, he said.One juror called Thomas a "liar" in a post-verdict press interview, and 2 wanted to impose maximum statutory damages of $150,000 per work before the jury settled on the figure of $9,250. However, the court threw out the entire verdict after determining that his jury instruction on the so-called "making available" theory of liability was foreclosed by Eighth Circuit precedent.
June could be an awfully busy month for the labels' litigators; Judge Nancy Gertner in the Joel Tenenbaum case has told the parties to expect trial date as early as late June, though I suspect that delays produced by the webcast imbroglio will necessitate pushing that out.