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JT-S Part Deux Day Deux

June 17, 2009

It’s day two and one not short on technical testimony, Geek Squad, Lacuna Coil and ultimately inconsequential hiccups. Who says this isn’t fun?

The day was kicked off with testimony from Dr. Doug Jacobson, our expert witness. Dr. Jacobson is a top-notch computer security expert at Iowa State University.    Nary a person in the courtroom who wasn’t impressed with Dr. Jacobson’s credentials and knowledge in the area of computer forensics and security. In fact, one of the jury members nodded along as Dr. Jacobson listed his experience working with law enforcement to identify child pornography online and other notable programs (he has also advised Congress, testifying before the United States Senate Judiciary Committee on P2P networks in 2003 (http://vulcan.ece.iastate.edu/~dougj1/html/Testimony.pdf). Today, he testified to the validity of both the IP address MediaSentry caught illegally uploading and downloading music on Feb. 21, 2005 and the IP address assigned to Charter Communications.  Whose was it? Jammie Thomas-Rasset’s. He also noted that throughout his examination of the defendant’s computer he found the name “tereastarr” everywhere, from her Charter email address to her Match.com user profile name to her yahoo.com email address. And beyond!

The one legal roadbump was when Dr. Jacobson acknowledged he provided new evidence that was ultimately irrelevant to the basis of his testimony. It was unintentional, and ultimately, that small portion of his testimony was not allowed.  It’s highly unlikely to impact a jury’s decision (the jury wasn’t even present during this episode). Moving on…

One important fact that came out of Dr. Jacobson’s testimony was that the defendant provided her hard drive to us for inspection wiped completely clean. In fact, it was a brand new hard drive. When Ms. Thomas-Rasset’s former boyfriend Kevin Havemeier took the stand, he recalled that Ms. Thomas-Rasset had one computer in her apartment at the time of the alleged infringement, that it was in her bedroom, and that it was password protected. This was helpful in dispelling the defendant’s notion that it must have been someone else at her computer at 11pm on Feb 21,2005 (the approx. time of infringement).

Other witnesses today included Ryyan Maki, a Geek Squad manager from the Duluth Best Buy (who testified that his company replaced Ms. Thomas-Rasset’s hard drive in March 2005, less than one month after the infringement occurred on Feb 21, 2005 and after she allegedly received instant messages from MediaSentry telling her that she had been caught, AND that it was Best Buy’s SOP to return the old hard drive to the customer upon replacement); Eric Stanley, Ms. Thomas-Rasset’s former expert witness (who testified that the hard drive the defendant provided him to inspect could not have been the one that was used at the time of infringement, despite the defendant’s insistence it was); Betsy Brown from Warner Bros. Records (who testified that her company owns a few of the sound recordings at issue); and the defendant herself.

Ms. Thomas-Rasset came across as well-coached and somewhat defensive. Despite her above-average knowledge of computers and her participation in an academic study she conducted on Napster, she claims she had never heard of KaZaA.  She also said she wasn’t surprised to learn that user tereastarr@kazaa.com was caught distributing more than 1,700 songs (from her IP address) which were in line with her taste in music since they were “popular artists” (some of the songs mentioned were by artists including Lacuna Coil, Dream Theater, Chevelle and AFI -- artists the defendant said she listens to).  Lastly, the defendant confirmed that she has used the user ID “tereastarr” for 16 years for various online purposes and continues to use it to this day. Hmmm…

Suffice to say, the jury in the first trial heard the same testimony and were quite clear as to their conclusion (http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2007/10/riaa-juror-we-w/).

All in all, a productive day full of informative testimony.

Next up for Wednesday: three more music company executives, the defense’s two witnesses (the defendant and her expert witness), and possibly closing arguments (hooray!).

Check out one good recap of the day here: http://copyrightsandcampaigns.blogspot.com/2009/06/capitol-v-jammie-thomas-day-2-recap.html

Cara Duckworth