Ludicrous RIAA copyright trial rumbles on

In what is becoming the biggest farce in legal history, the first P2P case to come to trial in the USA has now reached three verdicts over five years of horrifyingly expensive legal shenanigans.

The case, which was brought to trial seemingly at random by the RIAA against Minnesotan woman Jammie Thomas, has probably clocked up more billable hours than the McLibel case and Watergate put together.

The latest decision says that Thomas should cough up $1.5 million in statutory damages despite the fact that one Minnesota judge has already decreed that the maximum amount of should not exceed $54,000.

The RIAA has already spent $64 million in legal fees to recover just $1.3 million in damages in its fight to protect the music industry from the scourge of file sharing.

Thomas is accused of downloading and sharing 24 songs on the now-legal Kazaa peer-to-peer network, which amounts to $62,500 per song. The defendant has always denied ever having anything to do with file sharing.

The record companies being represented by the RIAA will almost certainly never see a single cent in damages, and the entire case has long been seen as nothing more than a deterent to those unwilling to pay for music downloads.

Once again, the only people benefiting from this shocking display of wanton abuse of the legal system are the lawyers who merrily line their bulging pockets with cash which would be better spent supporting struggling artists.

Laughing all the way to the bank, a member of the RIAA legal team slimed, "We are again thankful to the jury for its service in this matter and that they recognised the severity of the defendant's misconduct. Now, with three jury decisions behind us, along with a clear affirmation of Ms. Thomas-Rasset’s willful liability, it is our hope that she finally accepts responsibility for her actions."

Not likely. Asked by Ars Technica for his reaction to the verdict, Thomas' lawyer simply replied: "Groundhog Day."