A jury of 12 ordinary Minnesotans with no connection to the entertainment industry today awarded a whopping $1.92 million -- $80,000 per work -- to the major record labels, finding that Brainerd mother of four Jammie Thomas-Rasset willfully infringed 24 of their copyrights by downloading and "sharing" them via the peer-to-peer service Kazaa.
Verdict Form in Capitol v. Thomas
The bottom line is that the jurors simply did not believe Thomas-Rasset's last-minute finger-pointing at her ex-boyfriend Justin Gervais and her then-8 and 10-year old sons. Just like the jury in her first trial in 2007, the new jury -- which included 2 college students, a special ed teacher, a retired nurse, a public transit worker, 2 in retail sales, a pharmacy owner, a health care company administrator, and a housewife who had never used the Internet -- must have concluded that Thomas-Rasset outright lied in her adamant denials that she had ever used or even heard of Kazaa.
The size of the verdict appeared to stun everyone in the courtroom -- both sides' attorneys, Thomas-Rasset, and the assembled press. And imagine how Judge Michael Davis -- who criticized the 2007 verdict of "only" $222,000 as excessive -- must feel. Davis pressed the sides to settle, but Thomas-Rasset adamantly refused. Immediate after the verdict, her attorney Kiwi Camara told reporters that settlement is indeed a possibility, as he candidly acknowledged that the jury did not believe his client. And the labels remain willing to talk. "From day one, we've been willing to settle this case," said RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth, "and we remain willing to do so."
I'll have more on the implications of the verdict later.