Thursday, May 21, 2009

Team Tenenbaum: next stop Duluth!

The team of Harvard Law School students defending accused copyright infringer Joel Tenenbaum is branching out, revealing today that they will be actively involved in the re-trial of Jammie Thomas, the Minnesota woman who is the only defendant so far to have faced a jury in the record labels' litigation campaign against individual p2p users:

Much has been written recently about Thomas’ attorney, Brian Toder, stepping down as her lawyer, and Harvard Law School graduate Kiwi Camara stepping up to defend her pro bono. Many have already correctly identified the connection between Camara and Professor Nesson and have put forth various speculations about our team’s involvement. So here’s the scoop.

Indeed, Professor Nesson has played an active role in arranging for Jammie Thomas to be represented. And yes, with support and input from Professor Nesson and and our team, Thomas’ new attorneys will undoubtedly be re-styling and filing some of the arguments we’ve put forth in Joel’s defense here in Boston. Kiwi Camara and Joe Sibley are outstanding lawyers, and our “Joel Fights Back” team is delighted to have them join the fight against the RIAA’s abusive litigation campaign against noncommercial music fans.

The retrial is still set to be held on June 15, and both Professor Nesson and a contingency of the Joel Fights Back team are planning to attend.

Thomas' first trial in late 2007 ended in an award of $222,000 for the labels, which was overturned when the judge determined that one of his jury instructions was faulty. The jury scoffed at Thomas' claim that an anonymous lurker had hijacked her wireless network:

During a 45-minute telephone interview, [juror Michael] Hegg said jurors found that Thomas’ defense — that she was the victim of a spoof — was unbelievable.

"She should have settled out of court for a few thousand dollars," Hegg said. "Spoofing? We’re thinking, ‘Oh my God, you got to be kidding.’ "

"She’s a liar," added Hegg, who just returned home following his 14-hour night shift.


Hegg added that the jury believed Thomas’ liability was magnified because she turned over to RIAA investigators a different hard drive than the one used to share music. "She lied," he said. "There was no defense. Her defense sucked."


Expert testimony from an RIAA witness also 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.

I don't know whether Thomas' new trial team will turn out to be more effective advocates than the representation she had in her first trial. But I do know that they are stuck with some awfully bad facts and testimony from the first trial that no amount of attacks on the labels' "strategy" can undo.

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