In the first US trial to challenge the illegal downloading of music on the Internet, a single mother from Minnesota has been ordered to pay more than $2,20,000 for sharing 24 songs online.
Jammie Thomas, 30, was the first among more than 26,000 people sued by the world's most powerful recording companies to refuse a settlement after being slapped with a lawsuit by the Recording Industry of America and six major music labels.
She turned down an offer to pay a few thousands dollars in fines and instead took the case to court.
Unlike some who insist on the right to share files over the Internet, Thomas says she was wrongfully targetted by SafeNet, a contractor employed by the recording industry to patrol the Internet for copyrighted material.
Her lawyer said earlier this week that she had racked up some USD 60,000 in legal fees because she refused to be bullied.
And while Thomas insisted that she had never downloaded or uploaded music, her lawyer tried to convince jurors there was no way to prove who had uploaded songs on the Kazaa file sharing network.
A jury took just five hours to decide that evidence provided by the music labels showed otherwise and found Thomas guilty of copyright infringement, court records showed.
Thomas, an employee of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, an Indian tribe, was ordered to pay a $9,250 fine for each of 24 shared songs cited in the case, including Godsmack's "Spiral," Destiny's Child's "Bills, Bills, Bills" and Sara McLachlan's "Building a Mystery.