Woman in US devastated over fine for illegal music downloads

The first person to be convicted of illegally downloading music said today she was “devastated” after being fined more than £100,000 (€142,733).

The first person to be convicted of illegally downloading music said today she was “devastated” after being fined more than £100,000 (€142,733).

Jammie Thomas insisted she was innocent and said she took on the music industry because she would not be “bullied” into settling before the case reached court.

She was fined $220,000 (€156,135) and 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.

In her first interview since her conviction last week, Ms Thomas, 30, told CNN’s American Morning: “I was actually pretty devastated when I heard the amount.

“I don’t know anybody out there who wouldn’t be devastated being told you have to pay that much money for something you didn’t do.”

Asked why she didn’t accept an offer to settle out of court earlier, she said: “I didn’t do this and I was not going to be bullied by the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) or anyone else.”

The court heard the IP address assigned to Thomas was used to download songs using Kazaa software with the username Thereastar, which she had used for the last 13 years.

She told CNN’s American Morning that someone stole that identity.

Thomas admitted she had all the songs which were shared but insisted she had never had an account with Kazaa.

“I’ve never used any file sharing, except for Napster. I used Napster in college to do a business study. And that’s the only file sharing I’ve ever used.”

Thomas’s lawyer Brian Toder told the programme: “Well the record companies are pretty giddy right now because of what they see as a victory, but really they open the door to an appeal which may stop this whole machine of theirs dead in its tracks.

“There was an issue as to whether or not simply offering these recordings was in itself an infringement versus an actual sharing, and that issue’s never been squarely addressed by a court of appeals.

“And we certainly plan to do something about that. And if we prevail on that, this whole harvesting that they do, client by client, is gone.”

The jury at the court in Duluth, Minnesota, ordered her to pay the six record companies that sued her – Sony, Arista, Interscope Records, UMG, Capitol and Warner Bros – 9,250 dollars (£4,500) 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.

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.

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