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Retrial for historic file-sharing case

DULUTH -- It appears that the nation's first music downloading case to go to trial will be retried here in June after attorneys in the case failed to reach a settlement during discussions Tuesday.

Attorneys for the recording industry and defendant Jammie Thomas-Rasset met with U.S. Magistrate Judge Raymond Erickson in the Gerald W. Heaney Federal Building.

"We struck an impasse," said Minneapolis attorney Brian Toder, who represents the defendant. "We actually had some offers back and forth, but there was definitely an impasse there that could not be overcome despite considerable efforts by Judge Erickson."

The record companies sued Thomas, saying she downloaded copyrighted tracks using the KaZaA peer-to-peer file-sharing network. In October 2007, a jury in Duluth found that Thomas committed copyright infringement by distributing 24 songs and determined that the penalty should be $9,250 for each of the 24 music tracks she made available to the public. Her total liability was found to be $222,000.

In September 2008, U.S. District Judge Michael Davis ruled that he erred in his instructions to the jury and granted a new trial.

Thomas, who now goes by Thomas-Rasset after being married in February, told the News Tribune on Tuesday that offers have been made to settle the case but that they didn't include money. She declined to elaborate. She said she anticipated the case going to trial again on June 15 in Duluth.

Toder also declined to give details on the closed-door negotiations.

"Every single lawsuit has the potential to be settled, and any time you start speaking publicly about a pending lawsuit, you end up eroding the whole possibility," Toder said.

Boulder, Colo., attorney Timothy Reynolds, representing the record companies and the Recording Industry Association of America, didn't return a phone call seeking comment.