After attempting to destroy all evidence of his actions

The US District Court of Arizona has ruled that Jeffrey Howell, a man who used the P2P file-sharing program KaZaA for illegal purposes, should pay a fine of $40,500. What the defendant did was to download 54 tracks from various record companies, and then share them with other users of the software. The Recording Industry Association of America filed a legal motion against him, asking for legal damages on behalf of the affected record labels.

Besides the $40,500, the defendant also has to pay $350 in legal fees. When informed that the RIAA had filed a lawsuit against him, Howell said that the music he shared with KaZaA had, in fact, been legally purchased. He also claimed that he did not willingly share the 54 songs, since his computer could have been accessed by other persons as well. Initially, Howell’s ex-wife was also charged with the same count but, because they had divorced in the meantime, the lawsuit against her was dismissed.

The situation would not have reached such a large scale, had the defendant cooperated with the authorities in time. The RIAA asked him to come up with concrete facts that would support his self-justification, but he went and destroyed all forensic evidence instead. After pleading “not guilty” to the charges, back in 2006, prosecutors discovered that Howell had downloaded and used an application known for its ability of erasing files in such a manner that leaves no possibility whatsoever for their recovery. At the beginning of 2007, a short while after the RIAA had asked him to deliver file information he had on his computer, Howell reinstalled the operating system that ran on the machine, to make sure that no trace was left of his actions.

“It is implausible that Howell would destroy the only evidence that could exonerate him simply to remove KaZaA from his computer. It is entirely incredible that his systematic and pervasive destruction of every last bit of evidence pertaining to the claims against him was simply an effort to tidy up his computer. The timing and character of Howell’s actions show that they were deliberately calculated to conceal the truth and that he willfully destroyed evidence to deceive the court. ” reads the judicial report of the Court of Arizona.

[Via: Softpedia News]