Recording Industry Association of America responds to City Pages cover story

Categories: Law

This week's cover story, Download Martyr, tells the story of the five-year legal battle between Brainerd resident Jammie Thomas-Rasset and some of the country's biggest record labels.

Though she denies committing any crime, Thomas-Rasset has been found liable for sharing 24 copyrighted songs on the internet. Last November, a Minneapolis jury said Thomas-Rasset owes the industry $1.5 million.

Yesterday Cara Duckworth Weiblinger, the vice president for communications at the Recording Industry Association of America, offered a rebuttal to the article.

Here it is:

We recently saw Nick Pinto's piece on the Jammie Thomas-Rasset case (Jammie Thomas Rasset: The download martyr, 2/16) in your paper. It's unfortunate we have to settle for writing a response when we would have certainly loved the opportunity to speak to Nick about this case.

While we appreciate that Nick tried to portray our side perhaps using other accounts and even our critics' sentiments, since we didn't receive a call regarding this story (although we did assist him with a different request), it's seemingly apparent there was little interest in getting the full story. That there's no doubt Jammie Thomas-Rasset lied to us under oath several times. Or that one of her former boyfriends testified against her in the first trial, saying he had clearly seen her use her computer to download music, even when she was denying it outright. Or that when she initially called our settlement center and proclaimed that we'd never find anything, it's because she knew she had recently replaced her hard drive. Or that her own expert witness that she hired testified against her, saying she had lied to him about providing the correct hard drive. Or that perhaps if she had even mentioned to us the possibility of the downloader being one of her kids or boyfriend years ago when we first reached out to her about this case, that we might not have had to be here in the first place. Or that the $25,000 settlement we offered her after the second trial would have gone to charity and not, as she says, to "these labels." We would have happily explained all this if given the chance.

Steve Kohls
Jammie Thomas-Rasset with her son.
Any insinuation that we stopped filing new lawsuits in 2008 because of her case is flat out WRONG. It had nothing to do with her. It was about finding a more effective approach to alert and educate individuals about their illegal behavior through working with ISPs and sending notices to their subscribers (an approach, I might add, that might not have worked on Ms. Thomas-Rasset since she WAS alerted twice via instant messages about her illegal activity but chose to ignore them and continue, thus resulting in the lawsuit). If there ever was a case that would have changed our minds about our lawsuit campaign, it certainly would NOT have been hers given the overwhelming evidence and her blatant disrespect for artists, the legal system and the law.

For what it's worth, I'm the "spokesman" mentioned in the article who was on hand after the second trial that proffered how we've been willing to settle since day one. That wasn't simply lip service. We've offered to settle for far, far less than what each jury has rendered against her (not to mention when this case started it was less than $5000). She has repeatedly stated she won't pay us a penny. What has been confirmed time and time again is that Jammie Thomas-Rasset is an egregious illegal downloader who downloaded more than 1700 songs and shared them with millions of anonymous strangers on p2p service Kazaa, hoping not to get caught. She then lied about it, took to the press to proclaim the unfairness of the judicial system against those who egregiously break the law, implicated her children and boyfriend long after it was legally appropriate to do so, and is now saddled with another large judgment against her. After the third trial, online news site CNET did a wrap-up of the case (Did Jammie Thomas case backfire on file-sharers?, 11/7/10) and concluded the following:

After four years of legal maneuvering and three separate trials, the evidence suggests that Thomas-Rasset's case was the wrong one to challenge the nation's copyright laws.

It took three juries of her own peers to conclude that Ms. Thomas-Rasset was lying (see Wired's interview with a juror from her first trial at RIAA Juror: 'We wanted to send a message', 10/9/07).

I was in the courtroom when Jammie Thomas-Rasset outright laughed at the jury's latest judgment against her and smiled her way out of the courtroom. While we understand the pro bono agreement she has with her attorneys has allowed her the ability to draw this case out as long as possible, it's quite clear she doesn't take this case seriously. Along with artists, producers, engineers, back-up singers, songwriters, and many others within the music community that are profoundly impacted by the kind of music theft Ms. Thomas-Rasset willfully engaged in, we take this case very seriously. And with the large judgments three separate juries of her own peers have now handed down against her, it's quite clear they do too.

Cara Duckworth Weiblinger

Vice President, Communications
Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
Washington, D.C.

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You'd think the RIAA would just go through a P.R. update, hire a consulting company to do some outside research into how to best ween people away from pirating. Instead of CLEARLY approaching pirating from a for profit angle, no one can take them seriously when they say they are defending artists rights because of their tactics and history, I certainly don't. I can't help but look at them like a spoiled child on a playground with a rich dad. I can see right through their false intentions to how they really work to the point of it being embarrassing.


The RIAA are representatives of the leeches that extort the fruits of artists labor; While the defendant in this case clearly attempted to manipulate the courts, I am sympathetic to her, and applaud her chutzpah standing up to these capitalist creeps. I will never purchase any recorded entertainment from RIAA members, as a result of the despicable way they handled this case and other recent copyright issues.


Screw the RIAA. Maybe if they drop price of CD's drop to a reasonable price and they stop shoving "artists" like Lady Gaga and Justin Beiber down our throats, they wouldn't be having the problems they are having. Until then, I'll buy from independent artists who actually see the money and deserve it.


Does anyone believe that "artists" actually benefit from the work of the RIAA? The corporate bosses just need the money so they can ILLEGALLY buy out the radio waves. There is no group of gangsters in the world as SLEAZY as the recording industry.

I do not desire these corporate products, and I detest how they destroy the real hard working artists out there... so I applaud anyone who inflicts vigilante justice upon them in any way that harms them. This sleazy industry spends their money illegally buying radio program directors, drugs, hookers, senators... and sells underage sex symbols to the masses... generally makes America less competitive... more incompetent... and I have no sympathy for any losses they sustain.


Well...isn't it laughable? I think the point is well made that she maybe wasn't innocent under the statutory requirements, but that it was ridiculous to keep pressing this issue as a part of RIAA's outdated approach to the new frontier or listening to and acquiring music. Kind of missed the point, Ms. Duckworth...and I kinda doubt that the author didn't make some attempt to contact your side for a take on things. It looks like the same mindset was applied to both the story and your strategy in general: backpedal when it appears you screwed up!

Mark Gisleson
Mark Gisleson

I wonder how many times I have to publicly confess to being a massive file sharer before RIAA comes after me?

Oh wait, I don't have any money. [crickets chirping]


In summation, we feel it is very important to protect the profitability of our companies for the sake of our shareholders. God knows the artists don't really see any of this money...


Oh, snap. Somebody give that guy a job working for the RIAA, he's good!

Bill Crosby
Bill Crosby

Makes me want to buy all my music used off of eBay...oh wait, I already do. To Hell with the RIAA

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