Some Thomas jurors hoped for big penalty

Jurors could have awarded Thomas $150,000 for each illegally obtained song.

.MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – Some of the jurors who levied a $222,000 penalty last week against a Minnesota woman for illegally sharing music online would have liked her to pay the maximum $3.6 million penalty, one juror said.

Jammie Thomas, 30, is one of about 26,000 people the music industry has sued for copyright infringement and the first to take a case to trial.

The six record companies that sued her accused her of illegally dowloading songs and offering 1,702 for other people to download from her Kazaa file-sharing account. She denied ever using file-sharing software.

The jurors quickly agreed unanimously that Thomas, a mother of two from Brainerd, had infringed the copyrights of all 24 songs examined in the trial, juror Lisa Reinke told The Associated Press Wednesday.

The deliberations then turned to how much Thomas should pay the six record companies that sued her, with the jurors settling on an award of $9,250 per song. They could have awarded the companies as much as $150,000 per song.

Reinke said she wasn’t sure at first how much Thomas should pay. The jurors wrote on unsigned slips of paper the amounts they thought were right, Reinke said. They piled the papers on a table, and the foreman read off the amounts.

“A few said we could go up to 150 (thousand), and then other people said, ‘No, that’s way too high,’ ” she said. “We just all discussed it and gave our views and came up with an agreeable amount.”

The law allowed them to award between $750 and $150,000 per song.

Reinke said she felt they picked the right amount during their 4 1/2 hours of discussion.

“You go too low, it’s not going to stop the illegal downloading of music,” she said. “People are going to think, ‘I could do this, I could go through federal court and get off cheap.’ “

The jurors included a few people who said before trial that they had downloaded legal music online and at least one who did not have a computer in their home.

One pronounced himself “the computer illiterate in the family.”

Reinke, 41, who lives in International Falls, said jurors didn’t talk about the verdict’s impact on Thomas. Thomas has said she makes $36,000 a year working for the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe.

“It’s tough because you can’t allow yourself to get involved emotionally,” Reinke said. “You’re there to do a job, and that’s what you’ve got to do.”

Thomas’ attorney, Brian Toder, said on Wednesday that he might argue to the judge that the size of the verdict is out of proportion to the offense. The songs she was accused of sharing could have been bought legally for 99 cents each.

Record company attorneys claimed the problem was that Thomas made them available to millions of listeners.

Toder said he might also appeal the judge’s ruling that the record companies had to show only that Thomas made the songs available online – not that anyone actually downloaded them from her account.

The companies that sued Thomas were EMI Group PLC’s Capitol Records Inc.; the Arista Records LLC label and its parent Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which is run by Sony Corp. and Bertelsmann AG; Vivendi SA’s UMG Inc. and its label, Interscope Records; and Warner Bros. Records Inc., which is a unit of Warner Music Group Corp.