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While it might not be a major setback for the Recording Industry Association of America, a federal judged has denied the RIAA's appeal for a mistrial against Jammie Thomas, the only person ever to go to trial after being charged with copyright infringement by the RIAA.
Jammie Thomas initially made headlines earlier this year when a jury found her guilty of violating copyright laws and was ordered to pay a staggering $220,000 to six of the top music labels. Thomas was accused of sharing more than 1,700 songs, but despite the moral ambiguity, public opinion tended to view the verdict as obscenely high.
Just weeks after the verdict was handed down, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis overturned the ruling on the basis that he had misguided the jury by indicating that the act of making a copyrighted song available was enough to constitute infringement. While a new trial has been scheduled for March, the RIAA appealed the judge's decision and asked that it be declared a mistrial.
It will be interesting to see what long-term implications this current setback has on the RIAA. Just weeks ago, the RIAA announced it would try a new tactic in thwarting copyright infringement. Rather than continuing to sue individuals like Jammie Thomas, the RIAA said it would start working with ISPs to send out warnings to those suspected of illegally sharing music. After three warnings, the ISPs would cut off internet service.
Meanwhile, a retrial is still scheduled for March, and it would be hard to imagine the losing side not appealing the verdict. That means we're still a long ways off from knowing the true implications of the Jammie Thomas saga.