RIAA v. Fans: The Lawsuit Stink That Just Won’t Quit

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The RIAA is officially ditching its policy of suing individual swappers, though the lingering stink just won’t quit.

Instead of walking away cold turkey, the label trade group is still pursuing older cases.  On Wednesday, the RIAA was unable to settle its longstanding case against Jammie Thomas (Capitol Records v. Thomas), a defendant stirring serious legal questions surrounding evidence-gathering techniques.  A retrial was ordered to proceed after an unsuccessful settlement conference.

Thomas initially plodded through a jury trial before getting saddled with charges topping $222,000.  Then, things changed, as US District Court judge Michael Davis reconsidered the admissibility of evidence submitted by the RIAA.  Davis noted that Thomas was found making songs available to others, but had not been found to actually be sharing the songs outside of an RIAA-administered inducement.

And so the story plods along, but why is the RIAA soldiering on?  Is it that important to prove a point, or win an ego match?  Or, more importantly, worth the legal bills that the major labels are saddling?  Indeed, that is a question assuming increased importance, especially as other cases – most notably Sony v. Tenenbaum – continue, and label balance sheets worsen.

Story by Alexandra Osorio.