Mistrial for RIAA's first file-sharing victory
The basis of the mistrial were the jury instructions. Initially Judge Michael Davis instructed jurors that could find Thomas guilty of copyright infringement if copyrighted MP3s were made available via a peer-to-peer network, "regardless of whether actual distribution has been shown."
In August, Judge Davis had a change of heart and called both sides back to court, requesting arguments over the "make available" claim. With yesterday's decision, Jude Davis ruled that the jury instructions were "erroneous, and that error substantially prejudiced Thomas' rights."
Although a mistrial was declared, the case was not dismissed with prejudice, meaning the RIAA can sue Thomas on the same grounds, assuming they can make the argument that actual distribution, and that Thomas was responsible for infringing downloads.
On page 41 of the 44 page ruling, Judge Davis also commented on the extraordinary punitive damages in this case:
"The Court would be remiss if it did not take this opportunity to implore Congress to amend the Copyright Act to
address liability and damages in peer? to?peer network cases such as the one currently before this Court." We can only hope Congress listens.
The complete ruling can be downloaded here.
[via Tech Dirt]