Monday, June 15, 2009

Capitol v. Jammie Thomas: Day 1 quick recap

Court ended at 5:30 p.m. in the first day of the re-trial of accused peer-to-peer infringer Jammie Thomas. This is a very quick recap -- more detail TK later.

Jury selection.
The jury was selected in about 2 hours. Seven women, five men, all white. Two college students: one an aspiring veterinarian, the other a part-time bartender. The bartender, who attends Bemidji State University, had one of the best lines of voir dire. Asked whether he had ever used LimeWire, he said he had, one time, but never again because "I didn't want to get caught and be here." Others included a special ed teacher, a retired nurse, a public transit worker, 2 in retail sales, a pharmacy owner, and a health care company administrator. Another, a 60-ish housewife, said she has no computer in the house and had never used the Internet. Many had iPods; all said they bought their music through iTunes or other legit sources.

Opening Statements
Tim Reynolds for the plaintiffs was straightforward, understandable, and likable. Emphasized that "record comanies are made up of real people" and that piracy causes harm. "We're asking you to hold her responsible." Walked through all the evidence; I though use of "tereastarr" on Kazaa account and Thomas other web accounts was particularly effective. Kiwi Camara for the defense was brief (only about 10 minutes) and had a simple message: Thomas "didn't do it." His main point: maybe plaintiffs can show that her computer was used to download and disseminate works, but they can't show that Jammie Thomas did it.

Wade Leak
Sony Deputy GC, manages litigation and anti-piracy efforts. Testified in very general terms about the harm done by piracy to the industry. Certified Sony copyright registrations admitted through him, over defense objections. Other documents objected to on foundation. Some came in through later ISP witness. Others still being fough over; briefing due at midnight tonight, with oral argument Tuesday morning at 8. On cross, Leak was asked for specifics on who Thomas disseminated files to, and how much harm she caused Sony. Understandably, he couldn't offer specifics. Leak was pressed by Camara to say how much the jury should award to plaintiffs. At first he declined, saying it was up to jury. Pressed "Is $150,000 [per work] appropriate?" Leak responded, "Certainly." Still, I doubt the labels will ask for the maximum at closing.

Chris Connelly
Matt Oppenheim examined Connelly, who works for MediaSentry. Connelly methodically explained how Kazaa works, and how MediaSentry collected evidence showing that a computer connected to the IP address later associated with Jammie Thomas had over 1,700 song files in it shared folder. MediaSentry also downloaded a smaller sample of those files. Camara's cross was short, and, I think, didn't land any blows. The only point he really made is that MediaSentry couldn't prove that 2 instant messages it sent to Thomas after detecting infringement from her Kazaa account had actually been read by Thomas.

Heather Nessler
Representative from Charter Communications, Thomas' ISP. She testified about the subpoena Charter received from plaintiffs, and process by which Charter identified account holder associated with IP and MAC addresses. Nessler linked those addresses to the Charter subscriber: Jammie Thomas.

What's next:
Briefing on 2 technical copyright registration issues by midnight tonight. Oral argument at 8am; testimony resumes at 9am. Thomas will likely testify Tuesday.

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