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Supreme Court upholds $220,000 fine for music piracy

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The US Supreme Court refused Monday to take up the case of a woman ordered to pay a $220,000 fine for illegally downloading music off the internet.

The country’s top court upheld without comment the verdict against Jammie Thomas-Rasset in the long-running, high-profile digital piracy case.

Thomas-Rasset, a mother of four from Minnesota, has been fighting a court battle since 2006 over violating intellectual property laws in her use of the file-sharing program Kazaa.

Three trials and multiple appeals later, she has been ordered to pay amounts as high as $1.92 million — or $80,000 for each of 24 illegally downloaded tracks. After the third trial, at which the jury awarded the music companies $1.5 million, the amount was reduced on appeal to $220,000.

That’s the amount in damages Thomas-Rasset was originally ordered to pay after her first conviction, but the judge who presided over that trial threw out the verdict calling it “wholly disproportionate” and “oppressive.”

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In the mid-2000s, the Recording Industry Association of America and major music labels brought suit against thousands of people for illegally downloading and sharing music, with most agreeing to settlements of between $3,000 and $5,000.

Thomas-Rasset, however, has consistently refused to settle the case.

Only one other defendant, Boston student Joel Tenenbaum, refused a settlement. Tenenbaum was ordered to pay $675,000, a fine the Supreme Court also refused to review in May 2012.

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In December 2008, the RIAA said it will stop suing people who download music illegally and focus instead on getting Internet Service Providers to take action.

The move away from litigation represented a major shift in strategy for the music industry group, which had filed lawsuits against some 35,000 people for online music piracy since 2003.

Last month, a coalition of the largest US Internet service providers and the music and film industries began rolling out an anti-piracy effort informally known as “six strikes,” which will use warnings and could result in slowed or suspended Internet connections for violators.

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[Frustrated student at computer via Shutterstock]


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Trump’s racism isn’t a grand plan to win in 2020 — he’s just a ‘blithering idiot’: GOP strategist

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President Donald Trump over the last week has made overtly racist attacks on four Democratic women of color, which has led to speculation that the president believes using racism is the key to winning reelection in 2020.

However, Republican strategist Stuart Stevens, who is currently working for Trump primary challenger Bill Weld, says it would be a mistake to confuse Trump's bigoted impulses with a well thought out battle plan.

"There is always this need to attribute this master plan to Trump because otherwise, you have to come to terms with the fact that he’s a blithering idiot," Stevens said in an interview with the Huffington Post.

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Here is why Nancy Pelosi allowed a House impeachment vote

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Admitting that he isn't privy to insider knowledge from the Democratic leadership, Bloomberg columnist Jonathan Bernstein suggested that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may be playing a much longer game on the possibility of impeachment hearings on Donald Trump than her detractors believe.

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Trump falsely claims he stopped his supporters from chanting ‘Send her back!’

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On Wednesday night, President Donald Trump held a rally in Greenville, North Carolina, where he singled out Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), accusing her and the other Democratic congresswomen known as "the Squad" of not loving America.

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Trump allowed the crowd to continue the chant for a full 12 seconds before continuing his speech.

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