In an effort to finally settle the copyright claims made by the largest record companies against Jammie Thomas-Rasset, a federal court in Minnesota has appointed a special master to help mediate.
Judge Michael Davis decided to appoint the special master without any urging by the Recording Industry Association of America, the trade group that represents the four major music labels or Thomas-Rasset, according to Joe Sibley, one of her attorneys.
Thomas-Rasset is the Minnesota woman who the RIAA accused of illegally sharing music in April 2006. After one jury found her liable for copyright infringement and ordered her to pay $222,000, the judge in the case later ruled he erred in instructing the jury and called allowed a retrial. In the second trial, a jury found Thomas-Rasset liable for $1.92 million.
The judge found that amount to be "monstrous and shocking" and reduced the amount to $54,000. Following that, the RIAA made a settlement offer, but after Thomas-Rasset rejected that, the RIAA elected to challenge the judge's decision to lower the damages amount.
The special master has his work cut out for him. The case has dragged on for four years and the sides don't appear to be any closer to finding common ground.
"I'm not optimistic," Sibley told CNET. "I think that the case has been analyzed enough by the record industry and they know what they will accept. If they didn't want to accept the judgment on [the reduced damages award], I don't think there is anything we would have to offer them that they would accept now."