File-sharing trial wraps up testimony

Alex Ebert
Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)

MINNEAPOLIS — Jammie Thomas-Rasset returned to the witness stand Wednesday and said that she did not download more than 1,700 songs, but her children or ex-boyfriend may have.

Thomas-Rasset was the last to testify Wednesday in her unprecedented file-sharing case in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. Recording companies are suing the Brainerd, Minn., mother of four for up to $3.6 million for copyright infringement.

Of more than 30,000 suits brought by the recording industry against file-sharers, Thomas-Rasset's is the only one to go to a jury trial. She was found liable for copyright infringement in 2007, but U.S. District Judge Michael Davis granted a retrial because he had given incorrect instructions to the jury.

On the stand Wednesday, she again argued that she didn't download and distribute music over Kazaa, an online file-sharing network.

The record companies produced evidence they say proves someone in her home is liable for infringement. But Thomas-Rasset said she had more than 240 CDs at the time she was sued, to show that she bought rather than downloaded music.

She said she doesn't like many of the artists and songs that recording companies are suing her for, but her children and ex-boyfriend do.

Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) attorney asked why in previous instances, two depositions and another jury trial, she had never divulged this possibility before.

"I'm not going to point a finger at them just so you stop going after me," she said. She also said while it's possible they could have downloaded the songs, she doesn't believe they did.

The defense pointed out that the letter sent by the RIAA attorneys before her first trial said the recording companies could sue those under 18, which has happened in several law suits in the RIAA's campaign against suspected file-sharers. Thomas-Rasset has four children under 18, two of whom could plausibly have been found liable.

Before the plaintiff and defense rested Wednesday, several recording company lawyers were brought to the stand to play some of the songs Thomas-Rasset is accused of stealing; playing the MP3 version, and the commercial version through the court sound system to demonstrate the two are practically identical.

Under cross-examination, JoAn Cho, an attorney for UMG and Interscope Records, said the lawsuit was "reasonable," up to the full extent of the law.

"This case is reasonable because this is our livelihood," she said. "In my opinion this is a situation where we want to exercise our rights and make people do the right thing."

The plaintiff and defense will give their closing statements Thursday.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.