Physicists at Fermilab Discover New Subatomic Particle Published July 21, 2011 LiveScience
The CDF detector, about the size of a three-story house, weighs about 6,000 tons. It records the "debris" emerging from each high-energy proton-antiproton collision produced by the Tevatron.
High-speed collisions at a giant atom smasher have produced what physicists say is a new particle, a heavier relative of the familiar neutron.
The particle is called the neutral Xi-sub-b. When it's formed in the Fermilab Tevatron particle accelerator in Batavia, Ill., the neutral Xi-sub-b lasts just a mere instant before decaying into lighter particles.
Scientists at Fermilab uncover these ephemeral particles by racing particles around a 4-mile (6.3 km) ring at near light speed. When the particles collide, the outpouring of energy disintegrates them into other particles.
Physics theory called the Standard Model predicted that the neutral Xi-sub-b should exist, but this is the first time researchers have seen it firsthand. The particle is a baryon, meaning it consists of three fundamental particles called quarks. Protons and neutrons, which make up the nucleus of atoms, are baryons. Protons contain two "up" quarks and one "down," while neutrons have two "down" quarks and an "up."
The newly discovered particle contains a strange quark, an up quark and a bottom quark. The bottom quark is called a heavy bottom quark, making the neutral Xi-sub-b about six times heavier than a proton or neutron. [Read Wacky Physics: The Coolest Little Particles in Nature] Measuring the properties of tiny particles like the neutral Xi-sub-b, allows physicists to understand how quarks interact to form matter, according to Fermilab. Physics models predict that several more baryons have yet to be discovered.
The researchers have submitted a paper that summarizes the details of its Xi-sub-b discovery to the journal Physical Review Letters.
I guess "Earth burp" is the polite thing to say.....
Mass Extinction Caused by Deadly 'Earth Burp'
By Loren Grush Published July 21, 2011 | FoxNews.com
Science/AAAS The Northern Calcareous Alps, where scientists found evidence of a giant, killing "burp" of methane emitted hundreds of millions of years ago.
A massive, long-ago extinction was once thought to have been caused by a destructive wave of volcanic activity. Scientists now point their fingers at another culprit.
A giant, deadly “Earth burp.”
Micha Ruhl and researchers from the Nordic Center for Earth Evolution at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark have found that the mass extinction of half of Earth’s marine life over 200 million years ago was likely the result of a giant release of carbon methane in the atmosphere.
This massive methane “burp” led to an increase in atmospheric temperature around the globe -- and organisms and ecosystems were simply unable adapt to their hotter environment.
“We measured the isotopes of carbon in plants, from before the mass extinction event and then after the mass extinction. We found two different types of carbons and the molecules that were produced during that event,” Micha Ruhl told FoxNews.com. “So we started thinking of other sources of carbon that could have changed the atmosphere.”
The original theory blamed the extinction and atmospheric change on carbon released during a period of intense volcanism -- a large surge in volcanic activity brought about by continental shift when Pangaea broke apart. But Ruhl and his partners discovered that this volcanic episode occurred 600,000 years prior to the end of the Triassic Period. The mass extinction occurred only 20,000 to 40,000 years prior.
Extensive calculations and research by Ruhl’s team revealed that the burp pumped over 12,000 gigatons of methane into the atmosphere during the final years of the Triassic. While volcanism was revealed not to have caused the extinction itself, the researchers believe that the volcanoes indirectly set the events in motion by triggering the methane release.
“A small release of carbon dioxide from volcanism initiated global warming of the atmosphere, increasing temperatures in the oceans,” Ruhl told FoxNews.com. “Methane is stored in the sea floor -- it’s a molecule which is caught in some kind of ice structure. As soon as the temperatures got above a certain threshold, the ice melted and that methane was released.”
For those unconcerned with an event hundreds of millions of years in the past, Ruhl’s research is a little more than a history lesson. Ruhl argues that better understanding the Triassic period extinction could help with further research in the field of climate change.
“People are worried nowadays that the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel burning could melt glaciers in the same way,” Ruhl told FoxNews.com. “That’s the big question of course" -- and a big leap to make.
Ruhl noted that events far back in history when the planet was dramatically different are hardly comparable to the modern world.
"What we don’t know is what the thresholds are today,” he explained, saying simply that the findings dictate further study, not panic.
“We have to remember that the world in the past was a very different. All the continents were still together, there were no glaciers. Ocean currents were probably very different.”
“But it will be interesting to see how animals and ecosystems cope nowadays compared to those in the young Triassic,” Ruhl added.
July 21, 2011 Soldiering On When the Job Is White Hot By MANNY FERNANDEZ
WICHITA FALLS, Tex. — The guys who cut the grass at the parks in this north central Texas city, which has endured 30 consecutive days of triple-digit heat, stuff ice packs into their bright orange vests.
The manager at the bicycle shop with the broken air-conditioner in Kansas City, Mo., no longer wears socks.
The orchestra that performs in Grant Park in Chicago did a perfect rendition of Schumann’s Symphony No. 2 in C major, perhaps because the musicians were allowed to wear shorts and tank tops.
As the heat wave that has enveloped much of the central part of the country moved east on Thursday, life became an improvisation. From inside an air-conditioned office, heat waves can seem almost unreal. But for those whose jobs demand that they work in the heat, whether by necessity, choice or circumstance, the triple-digit temperatures can shape the day, affecting their mood, their health and their bottom-line.
Ask those who have toiled in the heat this week why — why they put themselves under the sun, often without shade, for hours at a time — and there is usually the same response: It’s their job.
Sure, the postal workers in Atlanta — where temperatures have soared above 90 this week — have had it rough, but so has Christopher Fanning, a door-to-door meat salesman who has to keep himself, and the steaks, cool.
With 40 states experiencing temperatures into the 90s, including more than a dozen that have reached the 100-degree mark, the heat wave has done what bad weather tends to do — bring people closer together, if not to bond, then to at least commiserate.
The members of the Grant Park Orchestra in Chicago, which reached 96 by midafternoon, have become a close-knit bunch, playing in pounding rains, tornado scares and the current brutal heat. “We’re like the mail people,” said Mary Stolper, the orchestra’s principal flute.
There was one trait that people around the country seemed to share: optimism. When it is 91 degrees and not even 10 a.m. in Texas and you are riding on a diesel-powered lawn mower amid the heat and dust, making sure one little city park looks neat and trim, you tend to look on the bright side.
“We got a slight breeze,” said Richard Bronson, 52, the man on the mower Thursday morning at Harold Jones Park in Wichita Falls. He and his four-member crew finished the job in about three hours, before the temperature climbed to 104 later.
“We’re out in it all day for eight hours, five days a week,” said Mr. Bronson, a city parks worker. “You get used to it.”
Landscaping is a skill. But lately it has been an endurance test in Wichita Falls, a city of 101,000 near the Oklahoma line. One recent Saturday, the temperature climbed to 111. But the last several days have been cooler: 104 or 105 or 107 or 109.
It was not quite that hot on Thursday in Boston, as the temperature climbed past 90, but there were plenty of summertime treats to go around: blood-flavored ice pops, mealworm-sprinkled ice cubes and mint chocolate chip ice cream. The blood-flavored ice pops were for the tigers and the mealworm cubes were for the tamarin monkeys at the Franklin Park Zoo. The ice cream was for the zookeepers.
Comic-Con 2011: fans wear cosplay, superhero, steampunk and manga costumes
Thousands of costumed fans have flocked to San Diego for Comic-Con 2011, the annual pop culture convention. Hundreds of exhibitors and more than 130,000 guests are expected to pack the San Diego Convention Centre for the sold-out, four-day event.
Exclusive: U.S. Blocks Oversight of Its Mercenary Army in Iraq By Spencer Ackerman July 22, 2011 | 7:00 am Categories: Iraq
By January 2012, the State Department will do something it’s never done before: command a mercenary army the size of a heavy combat brigade. That’s the plan to provide security for its diplomats in Iraq once the U.S. military withdraws. And no one outside State knows anything more, as the department has gone to war with its independent government watchdog to keep its plan a secret.
Stuart Bowen, the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR), is essentially in the dark about one of the most complex and dangerous endeavors the State Department has ever undertaken, one with huge implications for the future of the United States in Iraq. “Our audit of the program is making no progress,” Bowen tells Danger Room.
For months, Bowen’s team has tried to get basic information out of the State Department about how it will command its assembled army of about 5,500 private security contractors. How many State contracting officials will oversee how many hired guns? What are the rules of engagement for the guards? What’s the system for reporting a security danger, and for directing the guards’ response?
And for months, the State Department’s management chief, former Ambassador Patrick Kennedy, has given Bowen a clear response: That’s not your jurisdiction. You just deal with reconstruction, not security. Never mind that Bowen has audited over $1.2 billion worth of security contracts over seven years.
“Apparently, Ambassador Kennedy doesn’t want us doing the oversight that we believe is necessary and properly within our jurisdiction,” Bowen says. “That hard truth is holding up work on important programs and contracts at a critical moment in the Iraq transition.”
This isn’t an idle concern or a typical bureaucratic tussle. The State Department has hired private security for its diplomats in war zones for the better part of a decade. Poor control of them caused one of the biggest debacles of the Iraq war: the September 2007 shooting incident in Nisour Square, where Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians. Now roughly double those guards from the forces on duty now, and you’ll understand the scope of what State is planning once the U.S. military withdraws from Iraq at the end of this year.
“They have no experience running a private army,” says Ramzy Mardini, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War who just returned from a weeks-long trip to Iraq. “I don’t think the State Department even has a good sense of what it’s taking on. The U.S. military is concerned about it as well.”
So far, the Department has awarded three security contracts for Iraq worth nearly $2.9 billion over five years. Bowen can’t even say for sure how much the department actually intends to spend on mercs in total. State won’t let it see those totals.
About as much information as the department has disclosed about its incipient private army comes from a little-noticed Senate hearing in February. There, the top U.S. military and civilian officials in Iraq said that they’d station the hired guard force at Basra, Irbil, Mosul and Kirkuk, with the majority — over 3,000 — protecting the mega-embassy in Baghdad. They’ll ferry diplomats around in armored convoys and a State-run helicopter fleet, the first in the department’s history.
But there are signs of even deeper confusion as State prepares to take the lead in Iraq. An internal State Department audit from June faulted top officials for “a lack of senior level participation” (.pdf) in an “unprecedented” transition to civilian control. The result is that “several key decisions remain unresolved, some plans cannot be finalized, and progress in a number of areas is slipping,” the audit concluded. It raises the prospect that the U.S. military will leave Iraq the same way it entered it — without any planning worthy of the name.
Bowen has minimal visibility into State’s planning process. His teams of auditors are in Iraq, reviewing reconstruction contracts for waste, fraud and abuse, as they have since the early days of the war. They just can’t see anything about the guard force. As far as Bowen is concerned, even though there’s been a nearly 90 percent drop in violence since the surge, State’s hired army still acts like Iraq is a killing field, with death squads and insurgents around every corner.
“Have the standards for convoy travel changed at all from the worst moments of Iraq civil war? The answer’s no,” Bowen says. Diplomats are allowed an hour for meetings outside secured U.S. fortresses. Then it’s time to hit the road, in armored cars full of men armed to the teeth and wearing black sunglasses.
The State Department says it’s learned its lessons from Nisour Square and now places stricter rules on contractors, like putting cameras in contractor vehicles and revising “mission firearms policies,” as Kennedy told a congressional panel last month. (.pdf) It’s an issue Kennedy’s well-versed in handling: He ran the department’s internal investigation into Nisour Square in 2007. Now, according to Bowen, he’s shielding State’s plans from scrutiny.
State wouldn’t comment for this story, saying it would be “inappropriate” to discuss an internal matter concerning Bowen. A department official who wouldn’t speak on the record merely said that it provides him with “extensive materials in response to their audit requests for documents and information falling within its statutory responsibilities.”
But Congress is showing signs of restiveness over State’s stonewalling. A bill that the House Foreign Affairs Committee crafted this week includes a provision specifically instructing State to let Bowen’s office to do its job: “SIGIR should audit military, security, and economic assistance to Iraq during the term of SIGIR’s existence,” the language reads, inserted at the behest of the panel’s chairwoman, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.
But it’ll take months for that bill to pass. Until then, Bowen is shut out of State’s ad hoc foray into generalship. “From my conversations with State Department people,” Mardini says, “they really don’t have a sense of how difficult this is going to be.” And it doesn’t look like they want to know.
Roswell UFO Controversy: Former Air Force Officer Says Gen. Ramey Lied To Cover Up Space Ship Crash
by Lee Speigel First Posted: 7/22/11 07:52 AM ET Updated: 7/22/11 08:28 AM ET
The Roswell UFO controversy may be 64 years old, but it shows no sign of heading into retirement.
One thing we know for sure: On July 8, 1947, the front page of the Roswell Daily Record proclaimed that a flying saucer had been captured by the Roswell Army Air Field.
The U.S. Air Force had issued a press release that day stating that a flying saucer had been "captured," and startling photos were released of soldiers standing before bizarre metallic objects.
Then the controversy began. At a press conference later that day in Ft. Worth, Texas, Air Force Brig. Gen. Roger Ramey essentially recanted the entire story, announcing instead that the debris was simply pieces of a fallen weather balloon.
Speculation of what really happened has never truly ended. George Filer, a retired Air Force intelligence officer, told The Huffington Post that he believes Ramey was forced to lie about the Roswell incident.
And, in news that will come as a shock even to ardent UFO researches, he told The Huffington Post in an exclusive interview that Ramey's wife told him he was "embarrassed about having to lie about the weather balloon."
Comic-Con 2011: Ridley Scott Explains How 'Prometheus' Is Related to 'Alien'
The director, who remains vague on details about the movie, also reveals why he'll "never work without" 3D again after this film, which stars Charlize Theron, Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender and Idris Elba and was written by Damon Lindelof.
10:00 PM 7/21/2011 by Borys Kit
20th Century Fox delivered the goods Thursday, giving a packed Hall H a first glimpse at Prometheus, director Ridley Scott’s return to the science-fiction genre. The Prometheus look began with a production video the combined Scott talking about the project and, more tantalizingly, quick shots from the movie, still nearly a year away from release.
The footage teased a star-spanning epic with massive sets, mystery, distrust and maybe (hopefully) horror. There was a shot of Charlize Theron telling someone to stay back, then obliterating the person with a flamethrower. Next came a spaceship, looking puny as it streaked past a massive planet, and an astronaut walking past a wall of alien hieroglyphics. A room full of alien pods reminiscent of Scott's landmark Alien film appeared, then several shots of Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender (with bleached blond hair) and Idris Elba.
Scott spoke to the audience via a live feed from the movie's Iceland set, perhaps a Comic-Con first, and was able to explain that the reason he took so long to return to sci-fi was that he was simply busy exploring other genres.
What bought him back was a desire to answer a mysterious question that he was surprised no one had ever asked about the Alien movies.
“That [question] could be the centerpiece of what we just completed. That said, that is the only DNA from the first Alien,” Scott said. Huh? So is Prometheus a prequel to Alien or not?
“You’ll hopefully understand what I mean in the last few minutes of the movie,” Scott said.
“So do I,” quipped Fox panel moderator (and the movie’s writer) Damon Lindelof.
“So does Fox,” snorted Scott.
Scott also discussed the massive sets, why he limited his use of CG and his first foray into 3D.
“I’ll never work without it again,” he said, referring to the 3D format. “It opens up the universe even for the small scenes."
When Lindelof asked if the movie was going to have an android (the Alien series featured synthetic humans), Scott revealed there “may be two” and hinted at something more.
“Robots and androids and replicants have become so much of the landscape, so you have to come up with something that hasn’t been seen before," he said. "You have to find a notion that makes something fresh.”
Rapace (Girl With the Dragon Tattoo) also joined Scott from the Iceland set, while Theron appeared on stage. Theron described her character as “a suit."
“In the third act, you see her strip her from her skin and you see what her bones are like and what she’s doing there,” she said.
Fox has said the movie would be rated PG-13, typical for most summer action blockbusters. But Scott said that could change to an R rating.
“I’ve got a responsibility to my studio and [studio co-chief] Tom Rothman, but I always make sure I have both options,” he said. “We will both look at it and decide which is the best way to go.”
NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU/UA This computer-generated view shows Mars' Gale crater (circled), which NASA has selected as the landing site for the next Mars rover (inset), due to hit the planet in August 2012.
Next stop, Gale Crater.
NASA has chosen the landing spot for the car-sized Mars Science Laboratory, the successor to the famously successful Spirit and Opportunity rovers and the next visitor to the Red Planet.
The Mars Science Laboratory, or Curiosity, is scheduled to launch late this year and land in August 2012. The target crater selected on Friday spans 96 miles and holds a mountain rising higher from the crater floor than Mount Rainier rises above Seattle. Gale Crater is about the combined area of Connecticut and Rhode Island.
NASA looked at several sites and assessed their safety thanks to the HiRISE camera, a high-resolution imager mounted in a satellite orbiting Mars. HiRISE is pointed at the Red Planet and allowed NASA to study in ultrahigh resolution the various points that might merit the best landing zones.
There were about 30 potential sites that over 100 scientists began studying in 2006; in 2008, the group whittled the list down to four candidate spots.
"Scientists identified Gale as their top choice to pursue the ambitious goals of this new rover mission," said Jim Green, director for the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "The site offers a visually dramatic landscape and also great potential for significant science findings."
"One fascination with Gale is that it's a huge crater sitting in a very low-elevation position on Mars, and we all know that water runs downhill," said John Grotzinger, the mission's project scientist at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, Calif. "Gale offers attractions similar to Mars' famous Valles Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system."
Curiosity is about twice as long and more than five times as heavy as any previous Mars rover. Its 10 science instruments include two for ingesting and analyzing samples of powdered rock that the rover's robotic arm collects. A radioisotope power source will provide heat and electric power to the rover.
The new mission isn't merely a "follow-the-water" expedition, as previous trips to Mars have been. The rover's science payload can identify other ingredients of life, NASA said, such as the carbon-based building blocks of biology called organic compounds.
Nevertheless, the mission isn't necessarily a go. NASA faces the same issues many households today do: budgetary woes.
The space agency's auditors announced in June that, already overbudget and behind schedule, the next rover may need more money to meet its launch date. The price tag has ballooned to $2.5 billion from $1.6 billion.
NASA's internal watchdog faulted project managers for routinely underestimating costs and calculated that an extra $44 million may be needed to avoid another delay or cancellation.
The rover and other spacecraft components are being assembled and undergoing final testing. The mission is targeted to launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida this fall, sometime between Nov. 25 and Dec. 18.
Norway survivors describe fleeing 'calm and controlled' gunman; death toll hits 91
Police begin searching two apartments owned by Anders Behring Breivik, 32, who is accused of setting off the Oslo bomb and shooting dozens at a youth camp. Survivors recall a gunman with both a handgun and machine gun who shot campers trying to flee.
By Edmund Sanders and Janet Stobart Los Angeles Times 3:23 AM PDT, July 23, 2011
Norwegian police said Saturday that the death toll from Friday's attacks has risen to 91 and confirmed that they have arrested a suspect whom they described as a right-wing Christian fundamentalist.
In a news conference Saturday morning in Oslo, police confirmed that they had arrested Anders Behring Breivik, 32, on suspicion of orchestrating both the Oslo bombing and the youth-camp shooting rampage and had begun searching two apartments that he owns.
Breivik reportedly owns four properties including a farm on the outskirts of Oslo, allegedly to enable him to store legally a large amount of fertilizer.
Photos: A sudden, deadly attack
Police would not comment on whether he acted alone but said no other arrests have been made. They said Breivik had no criminal record.
They would not speculate on his motives, but said, based own his own Twitter and Facebook accounts, he appeared to be a right-wing Christian fundamentalist.
Police say he was arrested by security forces at the Labor Party youth camp on the island of Utoya after the shootings. They said 84 people were killed on the island. At least seven were killed in the Oslo bombing.
Police Chief Oystein Maeland told reporters that they could not confirm the number of victims would stop at 91, adding that the attack had reached "catastrophic dimensions."
He said officers were still "looking in the water around the island for more victims."
Media reports say the gunman apparently used a handgun and a machine gun, and that police arrived at the island possibly 90 minutes after the shooting started. At midmorning Saturday, police were still searching the island for more bodies.
One wounded survivor, Adrian Pracon, described the gunman as "calm and controlled," shooting people who tried to escape the island by swimming to the mainland.
Pracon told BBC news that he saw two people approach the gunman, "and two seconds later they were both shot."
He said the gunman "looked like Nazi to me because of the hair ... and he was also very, very calm and controlled and sure about what he was doing."
Pracon described his attempt to escape. "We started running down to the water and people had already undressed and started swimming."
Pracon said he began swimming, but "after 150 meters ... I realized I wouldn't make it so I went back and saw him standing 10 meters from me shooting at the people who tried to swim over."
"He aimed the gun at me and I screamed at him 'No, please no.' I don't know if he listened to me."
Pracon said the gunman returned an hour later. "The shooting started and people were falling beside me, they were falling on top of me, falling injured into the water, so I just had to shield myself behind them and pray he wouldn't see me, and that's when he shot. I could feel his boots, I could feel the warmth of the barrel."
Others described being chased. "The man with the gun was running behind us, chasing us," said youth leader Lisa Marie Husby, who told BBC radio how she and 50 or 60 others ran to a cabin where she hid under a bed as the gunman shot through the door trying to get in.
When he went away, they heard more shooting: "I think I was under the bed for two to three hours, then we heard the helicopters and the police came."
Police said Breivik will face terrorism charges that carry a prison sentence of up to 21 years.
During a separate news conference, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said he had been personally involved in the Labor Party camp during his youth, and praised the fact that participants were able to exchange strong political views freely and without fear.
He called it a "childhood paradise" that "was turned into hell." He said he had been scheduled to visit the island today to address the youths.
Stoltenberg told reporters that some members of government had lost their lives in the bombing, but he could not confirm their identities. "We have a picture of the victims, but it is too early to say," he said.
He said Norwegians should not let the tragedy lead them to change their open society.
"It's this quality of life that has been abused and attacked. We must work hard to protect this so we don't lose that quality. This is what we have to resist."
He said the death toll was the highest in a single day in Norway since World War II.
Stoltenberg added that he will convene government ministers later today to discuss how to handle the crisis. Soldiers have been deployed throughout Oslo to assist police and protect government institutions.
He would not speculate on the suspect's motives, but said right-wing extremism has not been a serious issue before.
"Compared to other countries, I would not say that we have a big problem with right-wing extremism in Norway," he said. "But we have had some groups and we have followed them before."
Judge Slashes ‘Appalling’ $1.5 Million File Sharing Verdict to $54,000 By David Kravets July 22, 2011 | 2:29 pm Categories: RIAA Litigation, The Courts
A federal judge has lowered a file sharing verdict to $54,000 from $1.5 million, ruling Friday that the jury’s award “for stealing 24 songs for personal use is appalling.”
The decision by U.S. District Judge Michael Davis follows the third trial in the Recording Industry Association of America’s lawsuit against Jammie Thomas-Rasset, the first file sharer to take an RIAA lawsuit to a jury trial. Under the case’s latest iteration, a Minnesota jury dinged her in November $62,500 for each of 22 songs she pilfered on Kazaa.
With the decision, Judge Davis has now overturned the judgments of three separate juries in the case dating to 2007. And Friday’s outcome is not likely to be the last word, either.
Thomas-Rasset, of Brainerd, Minnesota, has repeatedly vowed to appeal what her lawyers said were “excessive damages.” Her first trial ended with a $222,000 judgment, but Davis declared a mistrial, on the grounds that he’d improperly instructed the jury on a point of law. After the second trial, Davis tentatively reduced the award from $1.92 million to $54,000, and ordered a new trial on damages if the parties didn’t agree to that amount or settle. That third trial last year ended in the $1.5 million judgement that Davis overruled Friday.
The RIAA has maintained that judges do not have the power to lower jury verdicts in cases concerning the Copyright Act, which allows damages of as much as $150,000 a music track. Judge Davis, however, said Friday that fairness demanded his decision to reduce the award to $2,250 per track.
The jury’s award was “so severe and oppressive as to be wholly disproportionate to the offense and obviously unreasonable,” he wrote.
The three verdicts prove that federal juries are willing to slap file sharers with monster awards. The only other file sharing case to have gone to trial resulted in a Boston jury awarding the RIAA $675,000 for 30 songs, which a judge reduced last year to $67,500.
Davis was the nation’s first judge to reduce the amount of damages in a Copyright Act case.
The third trial involved the jury assuming the woman’s liability. All the jury was required to do was affix a damages figure. Because of the posture of the case after the second trial, the parties could not have directly appealed the judge’s decision lowering the jury’s verdict.
Among the big bones of contention that are to be addressed on appeal, if one comes to pass, would be Thomas-Rasset’s contention that damages under the Copyright Act are unconstitutionally excessive, even with the reduced verdict. The RIAA claims that judges do not have the power to lower a Copyright Act jury award.
“We disagree with the decision and are considering our next steps,” RIAA spokeswoman Cara Duckworth said.
Thomas-Rasset, who did not immediately respond for comment, famously lost her first trial in 2007 — resulting in a $222,000 judgment. But months after the four-day trial was over, Judge Davis declared a mistrial, saying he add incorrectly instructed the jury that merely making copyrighted work available on a file sharing program constituted infringement, regardless of whether anybody downloaded the content.
Most of the thousands of RIAA file sharing cases against individuals settled out of court for a few thousand dollars. The RIAA has said it has ceased its 5-year campaign of suing individual file sharers and, with the Motion Picture Association of America, have convinced internet service providers to take punitive action against copyright scofflaws, including terminating service.