US: Woman fined $220,000 for downloading 24 songs

An American woman has become the first person to be convicted of illegally downloading music and fined $220,000 (€156,000).

An American woman has become the first person to be convicted of illegally downloading music and fined $220,000 (€156,000).

Although the music industry has threatened others with prosecution all have settled before going to court.

But Jammie Thomas ,30, decided she would take them on and maintained she did nothing wrong.

After the verdict she was in shock. Although she has little money she faces having a legal order imposed that would deduct a quarter of her salary until the fine is paid.

“She was in tears. She’s devastated,” her lawyer Brian Toder said following the verdict in Duluth, Minnesota.

“This is a girl that lives from paycheck to paycheck.”

The jury ordered her to pay the six record companies that sued her $9,250 (£6,600) for each of 24 songs they focused on in the case. She was accused of sharing 1,702 songs using the Kazaa software, infringing their copyright.

Richard Gabriel, lawyer for the music companies, said, “This does send a message, I hope, that downloading and distributing our recordings is not OK.”

He said no decision had yet been made about what the record companies – Sony, Arista, Interscope Records, UMG, Capitol and Warner Bros – would do about collecting the money from Thomas.

Record companies have filed 26,000 lawsuits since 2003 over file-sharing, which has hurt sales because it allows people to get music for free instead of paying for recordings in stores.

Many other defendants have settled by paying the companies a few thousand dollars.

Before the verdict, an official with an industry trade group said he was surprised it had taken so long for one of the industry’s lawsuits against individual downloaders to reach trial.

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