U.S. District Judge Michael J. Davis Wednesday declared the original a mistrial in the single mother’s case against the Recording Industry Association of America. Thomas was convicted of sharing 24 songs using P2P website Kazaa. Davis said that instruction given to the jury by him during last year’s trial was erroneous and was crucial to the end verdict.
Judge Davis told the jury that Thomas could be found guilty of copyright infringement based on the fact that she had made content available to others to download, regardless of whether or not the record companies had any proof that the files had been downloaded.
In October of last year Thomas was ordered to pay $222,000 damages for illegally sharing 24 tracks. The RIAA claimed that Thomas downloaded and shared over 1,000 songs, but focused on the top 24 tracks for it’s case. Aside from granting Thomas a new trial, Davis also asked Congress to rethink the federal Copyright Act with regard to how much should be awarded in damages when the act is infringed upon. The Judge said the initial fine of $222,000 was "wholly disproportionate" to the damages that the RIAA incurred and pointed out that the figure was 4,000 times what it would cost to purchase 24 songs, the equivalent of 3 CDs.
"Her alleged acts were illegal, but common. Her status as a consumer who was not seeking to harm her competitors or make a profit does not excuse her behavior,” said Davis. “But it does make the award of hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages unprecedented and oppressive," he added.