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Minnesota woman who owes RIAA $220,000 calls sum 'ridiculous'

In interview, Jammie Thomas, the woman ordered to pay unprecedented damages to record industry for file sharing, said it was nearly impossible to prove her innocence and suggested she would accept financial help.

Jammie Thomas, the woman who was ordered by a federal jury on Thursday to pay $220,000 to six music labels, said on Friday that U.S. copyright laws are unjust and that the cost of proving her innocence was nearly impossible for someone in her financial situation.

Jammie Thomas

"It says in the Constitution that there should be no undue fines," Thomas said in an interview with CNET News.com. "I was just fined (9,000 percent more) than the value of these songs."

The RIAA sued Thomas for copyright infringement and unlike the vast majority of people sued by the group, Thomas chose not to settle her case for what is typically a few thousand dollars. Instead, she decided to defend herself in court. She strongly denies sharing music files.

But a 12-person jury in Duluth, Minnesota found in favor of the RIAA. They ordered Thomas to pay $9,250 for each of the 24 songs she was accused of sharing.

"I was basically forced into a situation where I had to prove a negative," Thomas said. "How do you prove that your IP address was spoofed or hacked. If I could afford an FBI analyst I'm sure it could have been proven. But I don't have the money."

Thomas, the mother of two sons, ages 11 and 13, said she is still deciding whether to file an appeal. Fred von Lohmann, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an advocacy group for Internet users, has said that he has been approached by attorneys who wish to help Thomas should she decide to appeal.

"I haven't made up my mind," Thomas said. "If I appeal this case, I would still have no protection against this verdict, and would still be obligated to pay off the judgment. It's kind of a tough decision to make."

On her MySpace blog, Thomas said she was reluctant to accept the many offers of financial help she had received to pay off what she called "this ridiculous bill."

"I have not held my hand out," Thomas said in her interview. "At best I've asked for information or advice. I have asked attorneys who are willing to help pro bono but it didn't feel right to me to ask (people) to donate to my cause."

Still, in her MySpace note, Thomas listed her attorney's Minneapolis address for anyone who insists on helping.